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Possible to See Progress Training Each Muscle Once a Week?


I am 21 years old and have been lifting since I was in 7th grade. I played football in high school and we hit each lift twice a week (squats, bench, clean).

I’m in college now and I have about four days of the week to lift and I’m wondering how I should write my program out.

My goal is to gain muscle mass but I’m kind of in the dark on how to split it up.


you can absolutely make progress training each muscle once a week.

Something like

Day 1 - Chest/Triceps
Day 2 - Back/Biceps
Day 3 - Legs
Day 4 - Shoulders

Or whatever.


It’s very possible to train a muscle once a week and see great progress. Bodybuilders have been doing that for years. I laid out several examples of ways to break it down here.

But lifting “only” four days a week doesn’t mean you have to do that. You could do two days upper/two days lower and be just fine too. This program is one example.

Out of curiosity, what’s your height, current weight, and general fat level?


I am 5’11" and roughly 200 lbs. I don’t have a clue about my body fat percentage, I have never had it tested but just by guessing I have about 10-15 pounds I need to lose before my abs are visible to kind of give you an idea.


Probably 20.002 to 23.654%


You can certainly gain muscle by training everything once a week. Is it the most optimal way to go, probably not unless your highly advanced… Few people are actually at a stage where 6 days rest in between training muscle groups is nessecary. Something that has you hitting body parts 2-4 times a week would be better.


This is actually something that has been bothering me for quite a while too. You often read it’s optimal to hit a muscle twice a week for optimal progress. On the other hand, many programs are set up in a way that would only train them once a week, like many 5/3/1 templates, many of CT’s programs, etc.

Personally, I feel better training them twice, especially when it comes to upper body. But for recovery reasons I only do each of the big lifts with heavy weights once a week. So it currently looks like this now:

Day 1: Bench intensity (= heavy), Overhead Press volume (= lighter, more volume), shoulder accessory

Day 2: Squat intensity, Speed Deadlifts (low volume; not a big fan of high volume DLs), deadlift accessory

Day 3: Overhead Press intensity, Bench volume, chest accessory

Day 4: Deadlift intensity, Squat volume (not too much due to recovery issues), leg accessory

I add some arm pump work on upper body days and ab work on lower body days.


It’s been shown in many studies that lifting more frequently has many more benefits than low frequency, not to say it isn’t useful for some people and their situations. But if you stop and think logically… Why would you wait a whole week to directly train a muscle again??


That’s why I’m wondering why so many of Wendler’s or CT’s templates only have you train them once. There must be some major benefit.


They are both rather advanced… I can’t speak for their programming though.


Look up Consolidation of Stressors. Frequency is just a variable and when balanced appropriately with other variables, I don’t find too much difference over the long term myself.


This will turn into a debate that has the potential to become patently absurd if you don’t have the experience and results to formulate your opinions.

Just try out different things and evaluate your results to decide what’s best for you.


very good point.

I’ve started training less recently and am doing way better on it in certain ways, slightly worse in others.

My strength and size gains are coming way faster than when I tried to hit everything twice, so the extra recovery is doing me good, but the body composition isn’t as good.

I think it’s more to do with your individual recovery and how hard you push in your sessions. I have a fast metabolism so I think extra days where I don’t train and just eat do me good.

I wouldn’t consider myself to be a particularly “advanced” lifter but I guess that’s a relative term.

Yogi's Random Training Thoughts

Yeah If you’re someone who loves to push for hard sessions 1 times a week frequency might be appropriate. But if you can back off a little and appropriately periodise your training, the scientific and anecdotal concensus is that a frequency of 2-3 times a week does provide superior gains.


I really don’t think they do. 5/3/1 and pretty much all of CT’s recent stuff is based on movements, not “bodyparts”, so that’s going to blur the issue right off the bat.

But if you did try to look at them from those perspectives, 5/3/1 is basically an upper/lower split, hitting each batch of muscles twice a week. Not everything gets direct work, but you’re doing some kind of pressing work twice a week (hitting the chest or shoulders with 5/3/1 and accessory work for back, chest, shoulders, and arms in both sessions usually), a quad-dominant move once or twice a week (not uncommon have higher rep squats on the 5/3/1 deadlift day), hamstring-dominant exercises twice a week (again, deadlift variations on the 5/3/1 squat day aren’t uncommon).

CT’s plans are pretty varied but the focus is, again, often one big lift per workout with 5-6 workouts per week (which means revisiting a movement pattern/“bodypart” more than once a week) or they’re upper/lower (or sometimes full body) workouts.


Which one of Wendler’s templates has you train a muscle group only once a week?


He has a few templates where you train twice a week with one upper and one lower body workout per week.


Could you tell me which ones? I haven’t seen any like that before.

Edit: Wait; are we not counting all the jumps, throws and conditioning as hitting the muscles?


No, you don’t.

Re read the template.

LikeChris is saying, it is not as simple as “I only barbell curl once a week, so it’s once a week biceps, right?” Err, no.


I was just talking about the strength training template.

The amount of jumps and throws he recommends is very low.