T Nation

Once A Week For Strength?


I just wan't to ask all the powerlifters, oly lifters and strength guys out there: Have ANY of you ever had LONG TERM improvements while training your lifts or muscle groups only once per week.

I never gained any serious strength or size until I went to 2 or more days a week for a lift, but I still know guys who swear by the blast it and let it rest
philosophy that you should be Totally recovered before you hit it again.


Come on guys just a Yes (it worked for me) or NO (I needed more that one workout per lift/muscle every 7 days)



i have, but ive experienced WAAAAAY better gains by upping the frequency.


I second that!!!


I experienced my best strength gains from training a lift 3 times a week, alternating heavy (6x4-6) and heavy (6x2). I used the same weight for both days. In effect, the low rep day was a recovery day for the high rep day. I did this Mon, Wed, Fri and had the weekend off.

I have never made any worthwhile gains fom training once a week. It might be good for untrained individuals, but that is about it.


I have made gains training the lifts once per week; however, that was a long time ago.

When I get ready for contest I bench 2x, squat 2x, and deadlift 1x per week.



Sounds almost like you did the Russian Squat program.


It's similar to that, but instead of keeping the load constant for the first 3 weeks, I would increase it over a period of 6 weeks. Basically, as soon as I did 6x6, I would increase the weight and go back to 6x4.

That Russian Squat program does kick ass!!


How long term is LONG TERM? I've been doing once a week for the last 3 months and I am making excellent gains. I think my best gains are on a twice a week per muscle group setup though.


I think the best gains in strength can be made when benching 2x a week, squatting once and deadlifting once.

If you only have time to bench once then do speed reps before your heavy work.


I'll be the Philistine here:

Yep, I have seen great gains benching once a week.

Back when I started out I only benched once a week, and that got me over 400.

Later on I used a very simple plan where I worked up to a max raw triple, shirted-up and went to three max singles, then did a bunch of accessory work.

I was on this plan for about six months and managed to put nearly 30 pounds on my bench.

The biggest problem I have doing this sort of plan is that I always worry that I am not doing enough work: darn Puritanical guilt!


There are guidelines for frequency of training from beginner, intermediate, and advanced athletes. Generally, beginners should use greater frequecy of training, as much as 2-3x a week for synaptic facilitation, until they increase their strength levels considerably. Intermediate and advanced atheletes can get better gains by training muscle groups with a frequency of 2x a week or even once a week for elite athletes.


I trained any given lift once a week for about three or four years. It worked for a while but eventually my progress levelled out. Then I went to the WSB template and had decent progress on my bench and hellacious gains in squatting and pulling. Now, my bench is getting kind of stale.

After my next meet, I may consider doing one hard benching session per week. That said- I like benching (even though I suck at it) and I will probably have a hard time staying out of the gym. My squat and DL is still hopping so I will keep my speed day.


This is pretty much what I was going to say.

I'm still pretty much a beginner and make best gains in squat if I can do it 3 times a week, and bench with 2 times a week.

I know a couple REALLY stong guys and they squat once a week and and bench twice a week. They are still getting even stronger and used more frequency before hand. Also they use chains/bands and sometimes will hit over 600-700lbs in a training session which I think has alot to do with it (obviously going to take longer to recover from 500lb squat with 300lb band tension then 275lbs of straight weight) Still they hit short extra workouts most weeks too.


I think the key to making steady strength gains is all about not being affraid to make adjustment and modifications to your program. The WS template is a great framework for doing this if used properly. As a guideline, not as a steadfast rule. There is no one answer for strength gains. Our bodies will react differently to different programs.

Make some adjustments to what you are doing, and switch to maybe to upper/bench days and two lower/squat or DL days. Try that out for at least a good 4-6weeks(12 if you can) and if you feel like it isn't working switch it up. The lack of gains might not be coming from the frequency of training but from the movements you are doing to support the three main lifts. You might take a look at the accessory work and make changes to that as well.

Good Luck!


Thanks Ericka. It was reading the Westside articles about 4 years ago that got me lifting weights again. I had gotten sick and tired of the bodybuilding magazines but discovered that I liked strength better. I'm really not sure why I drifted from the Westside template over the years, but it was my original template.

Maybe I just drifted to far.

For example, I came to believe that box squats were not best if you didn't use a squat suit because you needed more stopping power at the bottom. I also ditched upper range bench press movements for the triceps, figuring that the shirt helped get it up to that point-but instead went to lots of band tension.

I am going to go back and take a close look at the basic template for starters.


Still, I was interested if anyone had continued to progress on 1x/week training of a lift.


I have had continued progress doing this. Specifically for squats and deadlifts. I have trained each of those lifts only one time per week for a period of one year and gained around 150 pounds to each of them. Would the progress have been better if I trained them more frequently? I don't know, maybe, but I just train and compete for fun.




From my experience in OL..

can you gain only by doing the lifts once a week?...Yes, definitely..and it takes some careful planning in order to get the most bang for the buck.

But the problem is that, although once a week(done right) is enough for gains...it's not very optimal. Usually I've made my best gains doing the lifts 2-4 times a week. More than that, I get stalled very quickly.


If you want to play with the frequency of training you must also play with the percent of RM, reps, and sets.

The Russian routines, Smolov, Sheiko, etc., train the lifts with a very high frequency (higher than 2x per week), however, the percentages for the workouts with the corresponding reps and sets are not "balls to the walls" adrenaline requiring efforts.

It's interesting to look at different training methodologies to see what works.