T Nation

Determining Optimum Training Frequency

I’ve read often on this site that the optimal training frequency varies from person to person and from workout to workout. What follows is a relatively simple and potentially quite accurate method of determining this frequency for a specific workout. I apologise if this has already been described elsewhere on the site, however I did a search and found no similar topic.

Basically, the testing involves carrying out the desired routine at the beginning of the week, resting a certain number of days, and then measuring the strength increase. The next week the same workout would be conducted, but the strength increase would be measured earlier or later. This is best explained with an example.

A lifter, Timmy, is trying to discern the optimum frequency for benching on a 5*5 program. He would workout as usual on Monday, and then wait maybe five days and test his 5RM bench on Saturday.

If his bench had gone up from 200 to 210 pounds, that is a strength increase of 5%, or 1% per day. The next week he would bench again on Monday, but would measure strength on a different day, say Wednesday. If his bench had increased from 210 to 216, that would be an increase of 3% in two days, or 1.5% per day. Thus it would be more productive for Timmy to rest two days between benching than for him to rest five days.

For this test to be accurate, sleep, diet and stress levels would have to be kept constant. If it was carried out on an individual muscle group with an isolation movement, then it would also be necessary to ensure compound movements were performed alongside the tested movement, in order to take their hormonal effects and the recovery they necessitate into account.

Like the 80% 1RM fibre type test, this test can only be taken as a guide, as there are many factors that could affect the accuracy of the result. Overall, however, I think it would be about as close as one can come to objectively determining the optimum recovery time for a certain workout, and I hope someone reading this is able to benefit somehow from it…