Last updated on October 29th, 2022 at 07:17 pm
So, you want to know, “Is PPL Once a Week Enough?”
Out of all the various workout programs there are, PPL definitely seems to be one of the most popular.
Basically, this allows you to hit every muscle group on a weekly basis.
However, is hitting each muscle group once a week over the course of 3 days enough?
Or should you be doing PPL 6 days a week?
Then again, would you be better off using a different workout routine if you only have 3 days a week available to train.
Allow me to reveal all.
Is PPL Once a Week Enough?
You can certainly do PPL once a week, although this isn’t the best option for optimal muscle growth. PPL is typically best done 6 days a week, as this allows you to hit each muscle group twice per week. That being said, if you only have 3 days to train then a full-body workout, 3 times a week, is best. Furthermore, if you have additional days a week to train you could be better off doing shorter workouts, while following a bro-split 5 times a week.
PPL Will Always Be Best Twice a Week
If I’m being brutally honest, there are both advantages and disadvantages to training PPL just once a week.
As a beginner in the gym you’ll generally want to only be training 3 days a week anyway.
And realistically, this is all you should be doing for at least your first 2-3 months of training.
If you think about it, you are literally going from doing no exercise to doing something.
However, as your body, mind, and muscles aren’t used to the stresses and strains of lifting weights, it makes a lot of sense to have more rest and recovery days than workout days.
That being said, from a personal perspective, I would always say that PPL should be performed twice a week, so for 6 days a week.
But, as I’ve just mentioned, as a beginner you definitely shouldn’t be training 6 days a week.
In truth, you’ll actually be doing more harm than good by trying to train this much as a beginner.
So, in my mind, as an intermediate or advanced lifter you should be aiming to hit each muscle group more often.
Therefore, a 6-day PPL is the way forward.
But, as a beginner, there are definitely better options for training just 3 days a week.
The Best 3-Day Workout Split
Personally, I believe that if you only have 3 days a week to train, then you’d be better off with a full-body workout.
And this is regardless of whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced lifter.
In fact, even the great Arnold Schwarzenegger started out full-body workouts.
So, you obviously don’t need me to tell you that if it’s good enough for Arnie, it’s definitely good enough for the rest of us.
There are of course a number of ways to perform three full-body workouts a week.
Obviously, the right option for you is a workout routine that suits your training goals.
However, as I’ve mentioned, optimal muscle-building typically occurs if you can hit the muscle groups twice a week.
This is actually perfectly feasible by performing a full-body workout three times a week.
In effect, you could actually end up performing push/pull/legs each and every workout.
But, of course, it would make sense to change the exercises up a little for variation, as well as hitting the muscles from a number of angles.
I would also say that your main focus should be compound exercises if you’re only training three times a week.
So, as much as we all love arm training, pumping up bicep curls and tricep pushdowns multiple times a week will not produce the best size and strength goals.
Therefore, you would be better off perhaps focusing on five basic exercises each workout.
So, this would probably look something like:
- Quad-focused exercise, e.g Barbell back squat.
- Glute and hamstring-focused exercise, e.g. Romanian deadlift
- Push-focused exercise with horizontal torso, e.g. Bench press
- Pull-focused exercise with a vertical torso, e.g. Pull ups
- Core-focused exercise, e.g. planks
On your next workout you would change your exercise selection.
Plus, you would change your push/pull torso position, e.g. vertical torso push – overhead press, horizontal torso pull – bent-over row.
Consider the Bro-Split
Okay, this does kinda go against what I’ve said.
Plus, I’m not particularly a fan of the bro-split.
This is mainly because you WON’T be hitting each muscle group more than once a week.
However, I know for a fact that many people will swear by the bro-split and will categorically state this is when they achieved their best gains.
So, I guess it’s a case of, “each to their own”.
Just because I’m not a fan, this doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you.
You must remember that we are all different to each other, and therefore our body’s typically react differently to training stimulus.
However, this also means that you’ll be training 5 days a week, as opposed to three.
So, this obviously comes down to how much time you have available to train on a weekly basis.
Something else I often try to do is to aim to perform a certain number of sets per muscle group on a weekly basis.
I still maintain that hitting the muscle groups twice a week is best for hypertrophy, but you obviously don’t have this option with the bro-split.
That being said, my aim is to hit the largest muscle groups with 10-12 sets and the smaller muscle groups with 6-8 sets.
Furthermore, as you’re performing a bro-split, you don’t need to solely focus on purely compound exercises.
So, as an example my shoulder day may look as follows:
- Military Press – 4 sets of 5 reps
- Arnold Press – 3 sets of 8 reps
- Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 10 reps
- Rear Delt Flye – 2 sets of 15 reps
So, even though you’re only hitting your shoulders once a week, you’ll definitely be getting a decent amount of volume.
Plus, you also get to hit each training protocol, i.e. strength, hypertrophy, and muscular endurance, in the same workout.
Bro-Splits – What Does Science Actually Say?
So, I hope you understand that while it’s possible to do PPL once a week, it probably isn’t enough in terms of optimal muscle growth.
Realistically, PPL is best performed twice a week for 6 workouts in total.
That being said, a 6-day week workout split should not be attempted by beginners in their first 6 months of training.
Realistically, a far better option would be to do three full-body workouts on a weekly basis.
This allows you to hit each muscle group multiple times throughout the week, as well as allowing for ample rest.
Finally, you may also be interested to read what I had to say about PPL potentially being better than an upper/lower body split.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.