T Nation

Does Days Per Week Matter?

I ask this question because my friend let me borrow 5/3/1 Forever and I read the book from cover to cover over the weekend. I have a few of the programs that I’m interested in. Obviously I know I got a lifetime to run them.

So lets use me for example. I’m 32, 5’6, 165lbs.

Scenario A: Lift 2x a week
Workout 1 - Power Clean, Squat, Strict Press, Rows, Dips, Curls, Abs
Workout 2 - Deadlift, Front Squat, Push Press, Chin Ups, Lunges, RDL, Abs

Scenario B: Lift 3x a week
Workout 1 - Power Clean, Squat, Strict Press, BB Rows, Dips, Abs
Workout 2 - Deadlift, Push Press, Chin Ups, Curls, Lunges, Back Raises
Workout 3 - Power Clean, Squat, Strict Press, DB Rows, RDL, Abs

Scenario C: Lift 4x a week
Workout 1 - Power Clean, Squat, RDL, Lunges, Abs
Workout 2 - Strict Press, BB Rows, Chin Ups, Dips, Curls
Workout 3 - Deadlift, Squat, GHR, Split Squats, Abs
Workout 4 - Push Press, DB Rows, Pull Ups, Push Ups, Curls

By the time I’m 40 (so 8 years) would it matter which program I ran? Would I in theory have the same results (or not a big difference in #s) in 8 years whether I lifted 2x a week for 8 years vs 4x a week for 8 years?

Edit: This question is in a vacuum. Lets say nutrition is on point, recovery is on point, sleeping well, conditioning on other days, etc. The ONLY factor that changes is the frequency of the lifting days.

Honestly… it depends on allot a factors. The main one being how well your able to recover between sessions.

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So I’m not strong right now so I think my recovery would be a lot faster currently. I’m only squatting 210 so its not hard to squat with a 1 day break. But I’m sure once I’m squatting 405 that trying to squat 405 1 day later might not work out as well lol. Would it be one of those things while I’m young I can train more, but as the years pass lower the total days?

Because of this, you get more opportunities to improve conditoning when you lift less. This is why you cycle the programs rather than just pick 1 and run it forever; you need to focus on different things at different times.

So I really want a big power clean, big squat, and big press.

Based on that I really like the idea of the Morning Star template.

Since this is the case, would you say I run this for 3 cycles and then after that switch the template to something else?

I’m just trying to understand how to switch between templates, or when I should be switching. I don’t want to be a program hopper and it seems that most of the posts I’ve seen on this site advise to stick to a program for 6-12 months and not change a thing.

why would one assume that weakness equates to being able to recover quickly? I’ve found this not to be the case in my own experience.

Effort and intensity of training sessions RELATIVE to your maximum ability is what is going to determine more how you recover, among many other variables.

Something else I want to address is that you didn’t actually list programs. You listed days and lifts. But no numbers to accompany them. No percentages of max, no reps, no sets. This is useless. Impossible to assess.

On top of all this, everybody is different. And there is no cookie cutter answer. Some people recover very quickly. Some do not. Even when training, diet, and rest are similar, you have to remember that genetic predisposition plays a HUGE role here. More workouts DO expose you to a higher injury risk over a given period of time, particularly if workouts are not tapered for intensity relative to frequency.

If your question is truly just meant to be in a vacuum, the answer is ‘there is no answer.’ If you’re actually interested in advice, I would advise that you spend time trying all 3 scenarios. I would also suggest that spending part of a given year training 4 days a week and part of the year spending 2-3 days a week can certainly have benefits to most athletes. Variation is really important. You can’t do the same thing forever and expect it to yield results forever. You need waves in your training for it to be maximally effective. Basically, I’m saying your entire thought process is misguided, and you need to approach the task at hand from a different perspective than ‘what is the absolute best way to do X.’ That won’t get you anywhere.

One more thing: I’ve found that, in my experience, different lifts are best performed at different volumes, intensity and frequency. I do not make progress on the deadlift when I deadlift every week. I can only deadlift every other week at most to progress. I can squat as much as twice a week. I can bench about once a week without overuse injuries. I can do pullups, rows, any back work every single training session. Not everyone is the same as me. Figure out what works for you, through EXPERIENCE, not thought experiments.

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No templates; only programs. I believe morning star is 2 leaders and an anchor, but not too sure. Run it as the book says and then pick a different program to run.

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So how do I find out what works for me? Would you suggest I just run a program as it is in its entirety with 100% effort and focus and see where I end up? And then try another program to see how the results differ or how I feel?

I’m just trying to figure out how to approach this. Like I said before I know I want a big clean, big squat, and big press. The morning star program with leader and anchor is 6 cycles total I think. Once I’m done with that how do I figure out what to do next?

I saw in post on this forum that someone said they train something like:

Fall / Winter - 4 Days a Week
Spring - 3 Days a Week
Summer - 2 Days a Week

I might have to try something like this over the course of the next few years so I can learn what I like/don’t like about each setup.

Thanks again man for your thorough and straight forward advice. I truly do appreciate it the directness of it!

yes. don’t be afraid to try different things. The reason you can find pre-written programs that have you lifting anywhere between 2-6 days per week is that they ALL WORK. That’s the thing man. You can get results doing just about anything.

Here’s what will ACTUALLY happen in your life, if you really dedicate yourself to lifting. You’ll run a program. You’ll run another program. Then another. Etc. You’ll start to see how many days per week it takes you to feel too run down or bored with training. You’ll see how you recover. You’ll make adjustments. You’ll start to see templates you favor more than others because they remind you of templates you’ve liked before. You’ll settle into your own training niche. Sometimes, you’ll have more time and energy to devote to training, and you’ll take advantage of that. Sometimes life will get in the way, and you’ll have to take more days off. And all of that is ok.


THANK YOU man! That is the advice I really needed to hear from someone to clear my mind and truly get started on this lifting journey. I knew I was worrying about minor stuff. I know what I have to do now. Thanks so much @flipcollar!!