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Several exercise programs I've seen suggest lifting weights 3 times per week, but also say that progress can me made by only lifting twice per week (although it will be slower).

These sorts of programs also suggest eating large amounts of protein. I've heard various numbers, although 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (or of lean bodyweight) is a common one.

But regardless of how much protein you require when following a 3-times-per-week lifting program, my question is this: if you're only training 2 times per week and aiming for gains at a slower pace, do you need less protein? I would think so but I want to be sure.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

1 Gram of protein per pound of body weight is slightly above the absolute maximum your body can use (which is 0.8g/lb). See my answer to Protein: How much is too much?

If you are training less, your body will need less protein to rebuild the muscle and tissue. This also includes calories from all groups (carbohydrates, fat, and protein). The less you are burning, the less you need to consume.

You do need to be careful though that you are not considering three moderate workouts to be "more working out" than two difficult workouts. It's not really about the number of times you work out per week, but how much the body has to rebuild after each workout.

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+1, especially for the maximum figure. Very helpful. As for the "more difficult" factor - My question assumed that the 2 workouts per week person is doing the exact same workout progression as they would at 3 workouts per week, and just progressing more slowly. For example, those doing Stronglifts 5x5 always alternate a squats/benchpress/bent-over-rows workout with a squats/press/deadlift workout and add 5 lbs each time. – Joshua Carmody May 12 '11 at 18:27
When trying to gain, I've heard the extra rest days can actually help speed progression. I'd be careful not to assume faster progression just because of increased frequency. I like Nathan's point that it really all comes down to how much the body needs for rebuilding. – bitsoflogic May 12 '11 at 19:22
Also note that excess protein leeches calcium from your body/bones, so you want to be sure that you aren't completely overdoing it, and if you're taking huge amounts of protein, supplement some calcium with it as well. – Nathan Wheeler May 12 '11 at 19:44
-1 for thoughtless repetition of so-caled "common knowledge". Protein is FOOD not a supplement. Please read… – Mike S Aug 17 '12 at 0:34
@MikeS - All supplements are just "FOOD" if ingested... I fail to see your point. And I don't think anything in my first paragraph is "common knowledge". Additionally, the page you link to seems to be refuting the "max absorption per meal myths" and not the RDAs set out by the scientific community. – Nathan Wheeler Aug 20 '12 at 14:50

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