If you’re looking to increase your leg strength or size, have limited time, or feel overly taxed from a single or even twice a week leg workout, then you may be wondering if training legs three times per week can provide benefits without any significant downsides.
It’s certainly possible to train your legs three times per week, but you need to ensure that you balance your workouts and that the benefits of training legs three times per week are what you’re looking for, more isn’t always better.
Stop Hating Leg Day
There are a number of reasons that you may hate leg day, even just the weight and number of muscles that you need to hit during compound leg movements. By training legs three times per week you can get the same benefits but feel better by reducing single day load on your legs.
You give yourself an opportunity to improve your strength and grow your muscles and support system faster so that if you’re concerned about lifting too light, you’ll improve very fast or can even say that you have a high training volume from three days per week rather than one.
One of the big benefits depending on how you split your leg training, is that you can focus on specific muscle groups each day, so you’ll feel less rushed to get through everything required for leg training and can focus and enjoy the gym more.
Spread The Training Volume Out
By training legs three times per week you can either increase your volume and get faster results, or you can simply split your 1-day training volume across three days which means less time in the gym each day.
You may be training in your lunch hour, before work, or have a short window after work to get your leg training in. For most people, this is going to around 1 hour of available time to get to the gym, change, do your training, shower, and then get back.
For most people, that 1 hour is going to feel rushed and unpleasant, and you’re unlikely to get a full leg workout in with the appropriate rest time or total volume that you need to really improve your physique.
Your problems with time for workouts will only get worse if you have to hit the gym at the busiest times of the day, being able to spread your workout across multiple days is highly beneficial for the average office worker.
Train For Hypertrophy And Strength
Training three times per week will allow you to train for hypertrophy and strength at the same time by focusing different days on different workout strategies that improve either area, rather than having to pick one or try power building, you can get maximum results for both.
Monday could be your heavy leg day with fewer reps to help build your strength, and hopefully, you’ve had a restful weekend so that you can give that day maximum effort.
Wednesday could be your hypertrophy day, lighter weight with higher reps, and it also gives you some extra time to recover from a heavy leg training day on Monday.
Friday, you can focus on your preference or implement a power-building workout with medium weights and medium reps.
A three-day training schedule for your legs each week gives you the chance to get bigger and stronger at the same time, which once-a-week leg training will never allow.
Train Less Often With Full Body Workouts
Training legs three times per week may mean the other days of the week are for different muscle groups, or you could implement full-body workouts by splitting your leg training across three days and adding other muscle groups into the workout.
If you can’t train 6-7 days a week but still want to get the results of hitting muscles multiple times per week, then full-body workouts are your best option.
Pick your three days and plan out a routine that lets you hit all your compound movements throughout the week, have a focus day for each full-body workout, so Monday is more legs, Wednesday is more pull, and Friday is more push.
You can also do alternative exercises on the different full-body workout days, so squats on Monday, leg press on Wednesday, and lunges on Friday.
Focus On One Specific Muscle Group Each Session
Another option of training legs three times per week is hitting different muscles on those different days, so your volume for each exercise is done on a single day, but you’re training fewer leg exercises each training day for less fatigue and more focus on each muscle.
You can focus on quads Monday, hamstrings, and glutes on Wednesday, with calves and other minor leg muscles on Friday. Typically you’d add other exercises for other muscles into those days that complement the exercises you’ll be doing.
If Wednesday is hamstrings and glutes, you’d likely perform deadlifts, hamstring curls, and incorporate some pulling exercises like bent-over rows or other back/bicep exercises.
This allows you to feel less fatigued and get better results for each muscle as working them all out together will typically activate them all, and you get poorer results.
Build More Muscle
Research shows us that muscle groups need around 48 hours to recover from a standard workout, and this is the case for most average gym-goers. So if you’re working leg muscles once or twice per week, then you’re leaving muscle or strength growth on the table.
You should start by determining what volume you want to perform in your leg workouts for each of the muscle groups, this should take around 1-2 weeks so you can understand what is doable for a single day. It also ensures that your body is used to the leg workouts.
Take your 1-day volume and split it into three days, and you’ll have the same muscle growth, you can then start to increase your volume for each day so that your growth becomes more significant from a higher volume workout, but you’re less taxed by spreading it out.
Your muscles have enough time to recover between each session, and your body isn’t taxed as much each session which means you can increase your 1-day max volume, which results in more muscle or more strength for your workouts.
Burn More Calories And Fat
Working your larger muscle groups, such as your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, requires more energy to be expended during the session and for a number of hours after the session. By increasing your leg workout days to three times per week, you increase the calories burned.
You need to be focusing on large muscle groups with compound exercises to get maximum results, so exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and variations on these exercises give you the most fat-burning benefits.
Not only will you be burning more calories during the session, but research shows that these types of exercises have you burning significantly higher calories for a number of hours after the session has finished.
So if you work out your legs once per week, you might get 3 hours of enhanced fat burning, while three times per week could result in 9 hours of enhanced fat burning.
It takes time and practice to get good at anything, this includes your leg training and the exercises you need to perform. If you’re working your legs once per week, it’s going to take some time until you get the form down correctly and reap the full benefits of leg day.
If you increase how often you perform movements in your leg workout, you’re going to get better at them faster, which means you perform them more optimally, gain more muscle, have an easier time, and simply get bigger and stronger faster.
You’ll also find that getting better and stronger in your leg workouts will enhance your other workouts, even things like bench press can see significant weight increases due to improved leg drive that is often seen from practice and more strength in your legs.
Reduce The Risk Of Injury
Two exercises have the highest chance of injury in the gym, the barbell squat and the deadlift, by increasing the frequency of these movements, you reduce the load per day on your body, and you get better at the movement faster than you can add more weight to the movement.
You improve the strength of your ligaments and tendons, and your body learns the movements faster. You’ll also find that if you’re tired from high volume workouts on a single day that your form starts to break down, and you risk injury from the incorrect form on heavy lifts.
Spreading the volume of your leg workout across multiple days is far superior in injury prevention than simply following good form, even if you don’t increase your volume for faster growth, you keep yourself injury-free.
Hit Muscles From Different Angles For Better Aesthetics
By spreading your leg workouts across three days per week, you can get the higher volume, but you can also perform different variations of the same exercises, which improves your overall aesthetics by targeting the muscles from different angles and getting full growth.
If you’re primarily training your legs with squats in a squat rack, you can switch up some of your volume to different exercises, such as back squats, front squats, box squats, and anything else that you need to work on.
You’ll be able to focus some of your extra volume capacity on lagging areas in your legs while still increasing overall strength in your legal.
Increase Your Training Flexibility
If you’re training three times a week, you’ll likely be performing variations of each leg exercise, so if you are training to use a squat rack but none are available, you can flip your training workout for the day and focus on the leg press or hack squat instead.
You’ll also find that if you need to travel or use different gyms with different equipment or even very limited equipment, you can more easily adapt without hindering your progress, simply by switching which days you do which leg exercises.
Recovery From Training Legs Three Times Per Week
Depending on how you split your leg training across three times per week, you need to ensure that you get adequate recovery time of 48 hours, or you’re going to see diminishing returns as your body gets too taxed, and your muscles don’t have time to recover properly.
Make sure that you have a full 48 hours between your leg training days, and that includes the time of day you train. So training Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning wouldn’t be ideal as you’re cutting into the recovery time.
Nutrition For Training Legs Three Times Per Week
No matter your goal you need proper nutrition for your workouts. If you’re trying to gain size, then your body may need additional calories each week as the increased training will burn more than usual, so ensure that you’re watching the scale and not losing weight.
You also need to ensure that you’re consuming at least 1g of protein per 1lb of lean muscle on your body, but for ease, you can just go for 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight.
Sleep For Training Legs Three Times Per Week
Training your legs three times per week, especially if you’re doing it for increased volume, will need optimal sleep to get the best results, so sleeping 8 hours per night to allow time for your muscles to recover and regrow will be required.
It would be unfortunate if you’re increasing your leg workouts to three times per week but not giving your body enough sleep to recover and grow, as you’ll be wasting your time.
Should You Train Legs Three Times Per Week?
Studies have shown that you can train your legs once per week, twice, three times, or even seven times per week, and if you keep the same amount of sets and reps overall for the week, then your progress will be almost exactly the same.
So leg training is about the volume that you perform throughout the week, whether it’s 9 sets once per week or 3 sets three times per week, you get the same muscle growth benefits.
Training legs can be a significant tax on your central nervous system and body overall, so if you’re taking your once per week leg training and doing the exact same thing three times per week, you’re going to have problems from overtraining and overtaxing your body.