Now having said that, you need to sit down and write out your schedule for a typical week. Next find when you can workout without having to skip meals. It is best if you can find one time in order to workout everyday. By doing this, you will allow your mind and body to properly prepare, instead of surprising it daily, for the great stress that you will put upon it. Plus, this will enable your body to be on a consistent circadian cycle. What is good about this is the fact that when you take a day off after consistently training at the same time everyday, your body will release a lot of the same anabolic hormones at the time you would normally workout. Because of this, I think it is good to be in a restful state on your day off, don't do any hard physical activities.
What time you should train is really up to you. I do not recommend lifting before your first meal or even after your last meal. Your body needs fuel in order to perform at its maximum potential. Similarly, your body needs sufficient intake in order to recover from a physically stressful event. Also, I think that training right after a meal is a mistake. Your digestive organs require blood supply in order to breakdown and absorb food and nutrients. However working out immediately after eating takes blood from your digestive tract and transfers it to working muscles. As a result, you'll probably puke up whatever you ate, which puts you at risk of being in an even bigger catabolic state, which we don't want. If you do puke, don't stop, worry about it after you're done. I feel that waiting at least one hour should be efficient enough, however I usually wait up to two hours and then train.
After training, it is imperative to get some sort of substance in your system, be it a protein shake or a meal. When I say right after training, I mean right when you step out of the gym. Your body may already be starting to use its own tissue for fuel, if you workout properly, so giving it something to work with cannot be overstressed. Now then, you've established a time to workout, but you are limited on the amount of time that you can spend in the gym. No worries, I've encountered this problem since I started college. Now it's not so bad, but when I was training for powerlifting shows, I was in the gym usually around three hours at a time. You need to evaluate how you workout. If you're one of those people who go to the gym and find yourself talking quite a bit between and during sets then listen up. You don't go to social gatherings to workout, so don't go the gym to socialize! A typical workout should take no longer than one hour. If I'm working out and I see that I've been going at it for an hour and one minute, I pack my shit and leave right then. Doing endless sets is ridiculous. Keep it short and to the point. Go by feel, if you have to drop your weight significantly on your second or third set, then it's best to move on to the next exercise. Rest periods should be kept at around one to one-and-a-half minutes. For all of you talkers, this time should be spent either stretching or getting mentally prepared for the next set/exercise.
I know that less than one hour may not seem like enough time to get a thorough workout, but keep in mind that this time period includes about 10-to-15 minutes of warming-up. Now, trust me, 30-to-40 minutes of 110% effort is an extremely huge amount of work for your body to dish out, more than this is risking overtraining. When trying to build muscle, less is really more, as far as set numbers and duration of training is concerned. Using extremely heavy weight until ABSOLUTE failure for every exercise is very necessary. If you do it right, by the time you get to your fourth or fifth exercise, you should feel like you've got nothing left. This is the whole point: pushing your body until you've got nothing left in a short amount of time.
Now, from personal experience, I'll let you know how this plan has worked for me. When I was powerlifting, like I said, I would be in the gym three hours at a time, sometimes longer. However, I was taking five to ten minutes rest per set. I didn't spend time talking or anything like that, but I was training with world champion powerlifters who believe that this is the way to maximize strength, and they're right. I noticed that my strength was skyrocketing, but my overall muscularity was not. When I made the transition to bodybuilding, I found I had a lot more time on my hands, which lowered my mental stress levels. As you may not know, being mentally stressed out all of time makes it difficult to grow because your body releases catabolic hormones during these times for extra energy.
My training partner and I are now trying a concept called "Powerbuilding". I first heard of this term from King Kamali, and I think it has allowed for both my training partner and I to make huge gains in muscle building and overall strength as well. Equally as important, I am saving much more time now than before with better all-around gains.