T Nation

Frequency vs. Recovery


I like lifting hard (to failure), but when I do I am sore for 2 to 3 days.

Should I back off to be able to hit the same muscle groups more often, or opt for a body part split?

Right now I’m doing an upper lower split with a day or two of rest between. Iam a re-beginning lifter after being in the gym only sporadically over the past couple years (new kid).



Here is what Jim said about working out for older people when asked about Strength or Hypertrophy. I think you could use these principles for yourself.



I believe you should train for both; but don’t be so quick to think that these two ways of training are so far away from each other. You don’t need to do 1-3 reps to get stronger; you can get stronger with higher reps, too. So get that outdated bologna out of your head.

Understand that both of these things go quickly as we age; strength/hypertrophy. But also mobility.

As I get older, I focus on these things:

Mobility (easy to keep going)

Getting off the ground - never lose this; do Turkish Get-ups, perfect for older people

Strength/Hypertrophy - again, not mutually exclusive. Strong legs and “built” upper body is the focus. Strong legs are healthy legs.

Conditioning - both hard and easy. Generally, way more easy than hard. Also, the rally cry for my football players is “strong legs, strong lungs”. There are still “coaches” who don’t believe you should be in good shape for football and ignore running. “Strong legs, strong lungs” is also what I believe for my own training.

What you do in the weight room is going to be scaled to what you can do; only you know that. In general, I do Malcolm X BBB, with 5’s PRO and/or a variation of 5’s PRO that I do. That’s 50 total reps after my main work with my FSL. Those 50 reps have to be done in 20 minutes.

So the first part of the workout is “heavy”. The second part is for hypertrophy; Again, just makes things easier to “see”. After that, all assistance work is bodyweight or KB based.

The above is done 3 days/week. One main lift/day, one assistance lift/day.
Conditioning is done 3-4 days/week and is weather/attitude dependent. So as long as I do something, I don’t really care. It can be Prowler, walking, bike, stairs, weight vest walk/stairs, hills, weight vest hills, sled pull, mile run, 100s/50’s. Again, just get moving.

My “strong lungs” don’t have to play football again; they just need to be healthy.


Since this is posted in this forum I assume your 35 or older?


Yup… 40


I like the strong lungs idea. Thanks.

I was more wondering about frequency though. I see Wendler says 2 heavy days a week, which might work but my muscle groups seem to need 2 full days of recovery at least after a weight session. I keep my reps in the 8 - 12 range because I want to train for hypertrophy and I find that it’s easier on my joints than 4 - 6.

If I currently need 72 hrs between sessions, should I back off, to decrease recovery time, or should I break it up more to train almost daily?


I guess you can only answer which is best. Try a daily with less volume for few weeks see how it works out for you.


I’m very much a inexperienced novice, so may not want to pay too much attention to me, but I’ve been training 6 days a week, just concentrating on one big lift a day, throwing in some assistance for that body part after.
At the moment I seem to be recovering just fine, but I am yet to be moving any serious weight nor pushing myself really hard yet.


I’m a bit older than 40.
I really like hitting 1 muscle group per week if pure growth is your goal. I workout 6 days a week.
Lots of good food and rest.
Here’s my workout:
Day 1 Chest Triceps Shoulders
Bench press
Set 1- ___lbs for 30 reps
Set 2- ___lbs for 30 reps
Set 3- ___lbs for 20 reps
Set 4- ___lbs for 10 reps
Set 5- ___lbs for 8 reps
Set 6- ___lbs for 6 reps
Set 7- ___lbs for 4 reps
Set 1- ___lbs for 10 reps
Set 2- ___lbs for 8 reps
set 3- ___lbs for 6 reps
Set 1 ___lbs for 20 reps
Set 2 ___lbs for 15 reps
Set 3 ___lbs for 10 reps
Incline dumbbells press
Set 1 ___lbs dumbbell press for 15 reps
Set 2 ___lbs dumbbell press for 15 reps
Set 3 ___lbs dumbbell press for 15 reps
Finish off Cable flys 3 sets

Day 2 Biceps
4 sets of reverse curls
Set 1 reps - 30
Set 2 reps - 20
Set 3 reps - 20
Set 4 reps - 15
Hammer curls - 4 sets
Set 1 reps - 12
Set 2 reps - 10
Set 3 reps - 8
Set 4 reps - 6
Single arm dumbbell preacher curls
Set 1 reps - 12
Set 2 reps - 10
Set 3 reps - 8
Set 4 reps - 6
Finish biceps with seated concentration curls
4 sets of 12

Day 3 Shoulders (Impacted somewhat on day 1 but not at all on day 2)
Shoulder press machine- The machines are a little easier so I start here
4 sets of 12
Military press (bar or dumbbell)
Set 1 reps - 12
Set 2 reps - 10
Set 3 reps - 8
Incline chest press
Set 1 reps - 12
Set 2 reps - 10
Set 3 reps - 8
Dumbbell side laterals - great for traps too
4 sets of 10
Dumbbell front raises
4 sets of 10
Upright rows
Set 1 reps - 12
Set 2 reps - 10
Set 3 reps - 8
Set 4 reps - 6
Finish with rear delts reverse seated fly machine
4 sets of 10

Day 4 Triceps
Narrow bench high reps
Set 1 reps - 30
Set 2 reps - 30
Set 3 reps - 20
Set 4 reps - 20
Set 5 reps - 20
Set 6 reps - 20
Press downs-
Set 1 reps - 20
Set 2 reps - 15
Set 3 reps - 12
Set 4 reps - 10
4 sets of 20
Finish with Kickbacks
4 sets of 10

Day 5 back
Pull ups 6 sets of 10
Lat pull downs
Set 1 reps - 20
Set 2 reps - 15
Set 3 reps - 12
Set 4 reps - 10
Set 5 reps - 8
Seated rows-
Set 1 reps - 20
Set 2 reps - 15
Set 3 reps - 12
Set 4 reps - 10
Set 5 reps - 8
Finish with a super set on cables
Day 6 - Legs
Set 1 reps - 20
Set 2 reps - 15
Set 3 reps - 12
Set 4 reps - 10
Set 5 reps - 8
Leg extensions
Set 1 reps - 20
Set 2 reps - 15
Set 3 reps - 15
Set 4 reps - 12
Set 5 reps - 10
Hamstring curls
Set 1 reps - 20
Set 2 reps - 15
Set 3 reps - 15
Set 4 reps - 12
Set 5 reps - 10
Hack Squat-
Set 1 reps - 12
Set 2 reps - 10
Set 3 reps - 8
Set 4 reps - 6
5 set of 15


After I turned 40 it took me longer to recover from heavy workouts. It’s perfectly natural. Right now I’m lifting in the gym 3 or 4 days a week at the most, but six mornings a week I do a short mix of yoga, martial arts, and “core” body weight exercises, for more mobility and burning off a few calories than stressing the muscles.


For clarification what is your exercise selection and what does your work volume look like OP?


The upper/lower is a fine split and as long as you are making progress. Ideally you want to design a program that allows you to do as little as possible and still make progress (you can always fine tune it). Carrying fatigue from workout to workout is fine, just know what you are doing.

recovering between workouts and progressing --> Don’t touch anything
recovering between workouts and no progress --> Do a little more
not recovering between workouts and no progress --> Do a little less


You’re 40, not 400. If you are not struggling then you are fine.

If you find you are carrying lots of fatigue then a tiny bit less volume and curbing the intensity a bit (do a rep less than you otherwise would) will likely do the trick.

If you still find you are carrying fatigue then look to bring your deloads in more frequently.

Focus on mobility and recovery work during your deloads. Eat a bit better, sleep a bit better and make sure your heart is in good condition.

You can rinse and repeat the above forever.

This assumes you weren’t training like a psychopath previously.


^ I agree.

Really liked bowclan’s first post.


This sounds like a good idea, thanks.


Yeah… I’m a sissy looking for the magic pill to fix it all. I think I’ll just stop whining and GET AFTER IT!

Thanks for the kick in the ass.


Perfect summary. I’ve been making steady progress, just feeling beat-up. I’ll keep 2aking and adjust as you suggested.



I do an upper lower split M/T Th/F
3 sets of 8 - 12 reps for each exercise

Pull-ups x 3 sets
DB Bench
Cable row
DB military press
DB lat raise
EZ curl
Wrist ext/wrist curl superset

Walking Lunge
DB standing toe raise
Seated toe raise
Hanging leg lifts
Decline situps
Cable oblique crunches


Hmm… I think you can get similar results or even better with less volume. I redesigned your workout to focus on the compound basics and assistance movements can be added as needed (might want to just ditch them all together for now). For your progression model I’d recommend double progression. What this means is that for any rep range you can progress by adding reps or weight (once the upper threshold has been met). So the name of the game is to always hit a weight you can handle for 8-10 reps… then once you get 10 reps with that weight add some more. Rinse and repeat. Hopefully with this workout you won’t feel beat up all the time while making great progress.

Monday - Upper Vertical Emphasis
– DB/BB Shoulder Press
– Weighted Chins

Tuesday - Lower Hinge
– Deadlift
– RDL / SLDL / Hip Thrusts (just pick one)
– Seated Calves

Thursday Upper Horizontal Emphasis
– DB/BB Bench Press
– DB/BB Row

Friday- Lower Push Emphasis
– Squats
– Bulgarian Split Squats
– Standing Calves


An addendum to my last post…

One thing you might wanna toy around with is rest/pause. Sometimes using rest/pause can wreck you with higher frequencies but since you are hitting muscle groups twice a week I think it will be just fine. Just like before you’ll be going for a range and following a double progression. However, instead of doing your second and third sets as straight sets do them rest pause. So something like this…

Set 1: Try to beat your best… 8-10 reps… increase weight if you hit 10
Rest: 15 Seconds
Set 2: Try to as many reps as you can staying just shy of failure (maybe 4-6 reps?)
Rest: 15 Seconds
Set 3: Try to has as many reps as you can (maybe 2-4 reps?) this time you can take it to failure if it is safe to do so.