In case you’ve missed it, there’s been an interesting discussion on the Dog Pound regarding the issue of exercise variety (see thread “Time for a New Debate” for details).
In that same spirit, I’d like to throw open a debate about another issue that appears to be highly contentious among strength experts - exercise frequency.
More specifically, I’m referring to the issue of how frequently to train a particular bodypart or exercise. It seems the strength & conditioning is more or less divided into three camps:
Those who believe that more frequent exposure to a given lift leads to more significant strength gains. They often recommend training the same lift 3 or more times per week. Typically they recommend training with relatively low volume per session and with fewer lifts per muscle group/bodypart. Included in this group would be Pavel Tsatsouline, Bill Starr, Tudor Bompa, Olympic weightlifting coaches and lifters the world over, T-Mag’s own Chad Waterbury and Russian powerlifting coaches such as Boris Sheiko.
Those who believe that a lift or muscle group should be trained very hard and then should be allowed to supercompensate over a period of several days of rest. Generally this group would recommend training each lift or muscle group once every 5-7 days. Often this group recommends higher volume per session and more lifts per muscle group/bodypart. Included in this group would be Charles Poliquin, Ian King, Fred Hatfield, and most Western powerlifters.
This is a small group that I’ve created only because its members don’t fit neatly into either of the other two categories. This is a group that believes that power and maximal strength should be trained during separate sessions in the same training week. This group of course includes Louie Simmons and the Westside crew, as well as T-Mag’s own Christian Thibaudeau. I would say that this group is more closely aligned with group 2 than group 1.
So, does more frequent training lead to better strength gains due to increased practice and neural adaptations, or does it stifle intensity and lead to overtraining?
Is one method better for pure strength and another method better for hypertrophy?
There are plenty of strong people in each of the camps, but I’d like to hear what you think based on your experience.