Needless to say, debates and arguments about training frequency have existed for as long as bodybuilding has existed. Lots of different circles have lots of different ideas and methodologies about how many times to train your muscles.
Some swear by hitting the muscle once per week. Others preach 2 to 3 times a week is optimal.
Which is right? That question is unanswerable. We could play devil’s advocate and side with one school of thought, or we could give you a cookie-cutter answer. But that just doesn’t jive with the Gone Liftin’ creedo.
Different Training Frequencies – High Frequency and Low Frequency
Let’s break down the difference between training frequencies.
First there is high training frequency – training the same muscle 3 times a week or more. Then there is low frequency training – training the muscle once per week.
You would think that high frequency training would deliver faster and more prominent results than low frequency training, right? Maybe so, maybe no. Training has and always will depend on too many variables to give a concrete answer on such a topic.
Some lifters and athletes will benefit from training the same movement 3 times a week or more, while others might gain dramatic results from executing a movement once a week. The answer lies in your genetics. In this scenario, what’s good for the goose is NOT always good for the gander…
Let’s talk about the pro’s and con’s of the two different training protocols, and hopefully that will shed some light for you when planning a workout regime. First we’ll talk about high frequency training:
PROS of High Frequency Training
- Results are better and faster – If you train the muscle multiple times, and have adequate recovery time and your nutrition prowess is in check, you will see better and faster results
- Better muscular coordination – the more you perform an exercise or a movement or a technique, the faster and the better you will become at said technique
- Practice makes perfect! – The old adage in all sports and all athletic activities – the more you do something, the better and more proficient you become at it – this carries over in virtually all aspects of life in general
- Sport-specific utilization – If you train sport-specific movements, you will become very good at those kind of movements (NOTE: this does not necessarily mean that if your work capacity in a certain movement is high, that other movements will carry the same virtue) – sport-specific training allows an individual to become the best he can be in specific movements which increase athletic ability
- You will adapt – The body is a remarkable piece of science and machinery – the way we heal, adapt, and progress is uncanny – the more you do something, the better your body will adapt to the rigors and the training frequency, allowing you to make consistent progress
CONS of High Frequency Training
- Higher chance of injury – This should be common sense – the more you train a muscle, the more you increase the likelihood of sustaining an injury
- Pre-existing conditions – If you have pre-existing or persistent injuries, training them at a higher frequency can exacerbate the discomfort or risk of prolonging the impedance
- Adaptation – Once the body gets used to the same type of training protocol, making gains tends to get harder – tapering off of such a regime can have negative effects as well – when you are used to a certain protocol of training, the body may feel as if you’re messing with it when changing your routine around, and your body will react accordingly
- Fluctuation of strength – the double-edged sword to high frequency training is that some days you will feel like Superman, and other days you will feel nowhere near your peak levels of strength from just a few days prior
- Burning out – Obviously, the more you train, the more fatigued you become on a weekly basis – with a constant load of exercises, you may burn out due to overtraining or mental overload – mind your resources!
We ain’t done yet… Move on to the next phase of frequency training – the pro’s and con’s of low training frequency.