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How Many Times Per Week Should I Train a Muscle Group?


#1

Hey guys! I’ve wanted to ask how many times per week should i train a muscle group?
Considering the fact that muscle protein synthesis only lasts for up to 36 hours after training, isn’t it a smart idea to train a muscle group every other day or 3 days per week? After MPS goes to baseline you are not growing anymore. So logically it makes sense but there is evidence that training a muscle group more than twice per week is not going to produce more gains. Brad Schoenfeld confirmed this and said that volume per workout is very important and there is no point in training a muscle more than twice per week. I’m so confused right now. Also there is the Norwegian Frequency Study that shows that the group that trained 6 days per week built more muscle and gained more strength compared to the 3 day a week group. But considering the fact that the study was never published and it might be biased, maybe we shouldn’t draw conclusions. The thing we know is that training a muscle more than once a week is optimal.
Thoughts?


Full Body Every Single Day Progress Log
#2

I have found 1-7 most ideal.


#3

How certain are you of this statement?

Body builders (even natural ones), by and large train each muscle group once a week and they seem to be getting decent results.

Overall I would say its probably beneficial to train a muscle 2-3x a week depending on the method and muscle group, but I don’t think at the end of a decade of training it will make a huge difference in the natural trainee.

On the whole I would say just train in whatever manner excites you most and gets you fired up to train, and that will be the program you do best on.


#4

~3x / 2 weeks

S


#5

Feels like this has been done to death.

Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. (2016). Schoenfeld, Ogborn & Krieger.

TLDR Twice a week beats once a week.
Extrapolating from the findings: Given adequate recovery higher frequency will result in better hypertrophy vs lower frequencies. Disclaimer/Limitation: when PEDs are involved is a different set of rules tho.


#6

I like Schoenfeld, I read the publications and understand them (bought his latest book collecting his works) and yet all of the top pros I’ve known (natty, so I’m not talking PED enhanced!) don’t follow the suggested advice and easily have much more lbm than the majority (most?) that I see who constantly obsess about the duration of protein synthesis as the sole variable in building muscle mass. @BrickHead and I talk and joke about this quite frequently.

S


#7

About threefiddy other variables to consider. Whether by elevated muscle protein synthesis or other mechanism that’s what the research shows. Anecdote and experience is valid evidence just like studies and meta analyses.

You’re probably right about all dem top pros. Whether they trained higher or lower frequency given enough time they’d end up with the same lbm. Would they have gotten there faster tho with high frequency training? A few months quicker? Years? Who knows.


#8

This topic for the garillionth time.

The amount of times you train a muscle depends on your goal and what program your following. Obviously if you’re after general fitness, don’t have many days to train or don’t want to train often, then you’re going to probably be using a full body or upper-lower program, in which case you’ll be training each muscle group two or three times per week.

However, if we’re talking about the most ideal way to train for size, we’re talking about bodybuilding training, not all programs that literally build the body. I say this because several times in the past when I discussed this topic, some people have actually gotten angry with me and acted as if I insulted their best friends or family members, and exclaimed, “What are you trying to say, you can’t build a body or get big doing other programs other than split routines?”

So I’ll discuss bodybuilding training because that seems to be the form of training many fitness writers are referring to when they try to discredit body part splits or low frequency training. Because of the nature of a body part split, a high volume can be done per muscle group and the frequency is once every 5 to 7 days.

What many of these MPS-obssessed coaches and writers don’t mention is that just because there’s an increase in MPS, it doesn’t mean there’s an increase in actual growth.

Second, they write and think as if nothing is going on with specific muscle groups when they’re not trained specifically, even though there is plenty of overlap during the course of a five- to-seven day training period. I’ve used these examples over and over again. If I train chest on Monday, and then two to three days later train shoulders and triceps, i have trained chest, shoulders, and triceps twice considering dips might be used for triceps and the shoulder and triceps are used on both days, obviously. If I do stiff legged deadlifts for leg day, and then two to three days later train back, I have hit my back twice, once specifically, one with less stimulation.

And as Lonnie said, there must be something else besides MPS going on considering bodybuilders have done fine just training each muscle group once per week. Even with quads not getting much more overlapping stimulation, there have been people who developed impressive quads training them directly once per week, with little else stimulation.

Anyway, without all this being explained, the proof is right in front of everyone’s faces: pro bodybuilders having the most heavily muscled bodies while not following the advice of the great fitness sages who never stepped on a stage or looked like a bodybuilder. At least Brad Schoenfeld competed and I believe he has stated that bro splits are just fine.


#9

I think the other issue is that frequency is only one variables of training, so focusing on “how many times”, while worth while to discuss, doesnt even come close to painting the whole picture.

Volume (both an individual session, and weekly), intensity, intensiveness, training age, physical age, exercise selection and sequence, workout density, genetics, recovery, supplements, drugs, recovery factors, etc…

ALL of those things (and likely many others) play a factor in progress, so to suggest that a muscle grows better training it twice a week instead of once would have to match ALL those factors and have the only thing changed be the frequency of stimulation.

I will say that for myself, I prefer not being a cripple 5 days of the week after leg day, so I choose to spread my training load over several days. My legs are not noticeably smaller or bigger, so its not like training them twice or once makes a HUGE difference


#10

Couple of thoughts which strike me.

  1. I agree that there are a myriad of variables to consider other than just MPS and number of times per week we train a muscle group (volume, intensity, age etc etc).
  2. Is MPS muscle specific or is there a generic carry over to the rest of the body? In the same way that when you train, no matter which body part you train, the body as a whole reacts (release of energy stores, release of hormones etc). The body works as one unit. You cannot eat for your biceps only.
  3. A split system of training does not train each muscle group once per week. There HAS to be carry over. As has been stated many times you simply cannot train chest only or shoulders only without there being an indirect training effect on other muscle groups (triceps being the obvious one in this instance).
  4. So perhaps we should be asking at what level of training intensity does MPS kick in and also at what level of training intensity does it peak.

I have no axe to grind in the 3x week vs 1xweek discussion. I have tried most variations. One observation which I will make however is that when I train a bodypart more frequently with a decent level of intensity I usually end up with an injury which reduces my workout schedule to a less than optimal zero times per week.

Gazz


#11

Brad Schoenfeld has evidence showing that training a muscle group 3 times per week is superior compared to training a muscle once a week. But they are not sure between 3 vs 2 times per week. We have to wait to see the new studies.
I’m not saying body part splits are not going to produce great gains if consistency, exercise selection, nutrition is in check. I’m saying that it’s just going to produce slower gains, higher frequency is more efficient. Body Part Split Versus Full Body
Check out this study and let me know what you think.


#12

One must also consider that this has an effect.

It’s a study about strength training benefits to the untrained side of the body even unilateral training is performed. Example–leg extensions with the left leg can improve quad strength in the right leg.

This is mostly useful in injury scenarios but who’s to say the same thing doesn’t occur in regular training. Training legs improves upper body strength? Perhaps the body’s response to training affects the entire body and, therefore, you improve every day you train.


#13

Training legs improves upper body strength because usually on leg day everyone is squatting right? Squats work the core. Core is involved in rows, standing presses, deadlifts. This is why it boosts upper body strength. Also a lot of people deadlift on leg day. Deadlifts work the core, rhomboids, traps, lats, forearms, biceps, hams, glutes, calves. All of these muscles are involved in Rows, Chin Ups, Overhead Presses.
I think that splits are kind of stupid because let’s say you have a chest day. On chest day you do all kinds of presses thus working the anterior deltoids and triceps. On shoulders day you work the upper pecs, triceps. On top of that you have arm day. Push / Pull type of split is more logical and i still don’t like it.


#14

Let’s put things in perspective here.

You are talking to natural pros who probably have an extensive client list with results to back them up.

In fact, a survey was cited in the introduction of the study:

“A recent survey of 127 competitive male bodybuilders found that more than two-thirds of respondents trained each muscle group only once per week (9). Moreover, none of the respondents trained a muscle group more than twice weekly and every respondent reported employing a split-body routine (9).”

But we’re looking at a study on:

“Subjects were 20 male volunteers (height = 1.76 ± 0.05 m; body mass = 78.0 ± 10.7 kg; age = 23.5 ± 2.9 years) recruited from a university population. This sample size was justified by a priori power analysis based on previous work from our lab using vastus lateralis thickness as the outcome measure with a target effect size difference of 0.6, alpha of 0.05 and power of 0.80. Subjects were well-trained; all had been resistance training a minimum of 3 days-per-week for at least 1 year, with a mean lifting experience of 4.5 ± 3.1 years. Moreover, all subjects regularly performed the barbell back squat and bench press exercises for at least 1 year prior to entering the study.”

Doing this split:

And even the author concedes one of the limitations was:

“…the novelty factor of changing programs may have unduly influenced results. During pre-study interviews, 16 of the 19 subjects reported training with a split routine on a regular basis. Although the topic has not been well studied, there is some evidence to indicate that muscular adaptations are enhanced when program variables are altered outside of traditional norms (12).”

Seriously, it’s not like no one has ever gotten big before and all our information on this subject thus far has been derived from animal models or in vitro studies.

Stuff like this normally goes into my “Who Gives a Flying Fuck” list for a good reason.


#15

Given the actual rate of growth of new muscle tissue from training, I’d say it has very little to do with it. It doesn’t seem to occur at the right time in the adaptation sequence.

It seems to occur more in the period of time that repair of the damage done from the exercise takes place than in the period of super compensation, but I’ve never actually looked at this stuff at such a granular level.


#16

Pro Bodybuilders are juicing. Juice enhances MPS, if they stopped training they would still be as big as they are now.
There is a study showing that the growth process starts after the damage is repaired. But the repair process is part of the MPS time frame, so you might spend 12 hours repairing the damange and 24 hours growing (Example).


#17

Total training volume is the key factor in determining how often you can hit a body part and recover from it & make progress IME. Figure out through experimentation how much vloume you can put in per week & then figure out how much you need to space out these sessions.


#18

I don’t even think it’s even worth looking at in such scientific detail considering real world results for even genetically ordinary people.


#19

So Phil Heath can stop training now, continue his roid use, and he’ll still be the same size he is now. Gee, what’s the point in him to even continue lifting when he can simply do cardio and diet down for shows.

We can screw around reading studies NOT done on competitive bodybuilders or we can actually do what has been shown to work for thousands of bodybuilders, including genetically ordinary ones.

Care to provide a sample of or name a great training program that falls in line with all this?


#20

I can’t address that with great certainty, but would speculate that it is the next workouts MPS that assists the previous ones super compensation.

Just spit balling on the idea of the time frame and sequence of events though. The real figuring out is for the actual scientists.

How would pro BB’rs or someone using steroids maintain the same size without training though? No stimulus, no response.