T Nation

Training for Your Body


When you look at those who have impressive physiques, there's always one thing in common that they have - they've figured out what works for their body and they do it over and over again.

This is something most don't seem to get though (myself often at times too); that different things work for different people. Principles are always the same (like intensity/effort, consistency, adequate diet etc), but as for training; this can vary a little.

Obviously, some people have certain areas to work on that others don't. And some people need to go about their diet/cardio a little differently. But more specifically to this topic; I'm talking volume and frequency of training. I've noticed that there tends to be about 3 major categories that people fall into. I don't like to put people in "boxes", but it does generally tend to be the case.

What makes me smile sometimes is the fact that EVERYONE is biased to some degree (based on what they've learned works for themselves). You can find yourself being narrow minded and only recommending people do what you found works (not taking into consideration their body). This is where disagreements can arise - "that'll never work!" or "no, you gotta do more than that!"

Thought I'd post this for those who seem to be "on the fence". The type who never seem to know exactly what to do and always seem to need others to show them. Also, it's important to have faith in what you are doing for long term results. Sometimes you can start to feel almost "guilty", or confused if what you've discovered works ok for yourself, but seems to go completely opposite to what others do. Hopefully this thread (along with other's input) will be more reassuring/give you better direction lol

Group 1:
The low volume, high frequency group. These individuals tend to 'thrive' on brief and frequent. Frequency often falls in the 2x/week category. And volume is often around 5-8 sets/bodypart/week mark. This group don't usually have a high tolerance to many intensifying techniques and generally tend to be able to over-train more easily.

Often, other people who are not from this category cannot understand this groups "makeup", and group 1 type people often get labelled as under-achievers (like they're not trying hard enough) but it's simply because unlike most of the other groups, they don't respond greatly to training differently to what's just been outlined (e.g. increased volume often leads to stagnation for them).

Group 2
The low frequency, higher volume group. These individuals thrive on infrequent "thrashing" of the muscles. They'll often hit a muscle group, and not directly hit it again for up to another week. Frequency often = 1x/week. Volume can vary quit a bit, but is usually 8 sets or higher/bodypart/week. IMO, this group has the better potential for quicker size gains than group 1 do.

Group 3
This one's like a mix of group 1+2. They thrive on high volume which can include high frequency too. If they do high frequency, they lower the volume somewhat to balance it out. Volume often falls within the 12-15 sets/bodypart/week range, although it can be much higher sometimes. It's not unusual to see this sort of person in the gym for 2+ hours/session. I can't prove this, and it may not always be the case, but I've often noticed that genetically, these individuals tend to have a naturally decent build to start with and often have to be more concious about fat control.

In no way do I want to sound dogmatic here, or like I'm putting limits on anyone :slight_smile:

Some people have differences not only with others, but with their own body parts. Take for example group 2 - they may have a bodypart (e.g. chest/calves) that responds better to more frequency. But generally, most of peoples training/splits falls into some main category.

Discuss away...

BTW, I'm mostly group 1



But I agree, high volume works for me because I like to work out a bit longer than most (1h30 sessions), while still using a 4 or 5 day split.


Interesting...I would fall in group 1 for upper body muscle+calves but in group 2 for legs.


Not to entirely disagree, but I think that a large part of it is mental. Some people enjoy different types of training more and just do better in the gym training one way versus another. I think that doing what keeps you motivated and working hard is more important that and physiological differences contributing to different growth with different types of training. And that goes for frequency, volume, intensity, exercise selection, training time, est.


Not only that. Some people have to train around their injuries. The ones that have gotten injured in the pass learn that training with higher volume and lower weights is much safer than going for 5,6 heavy ass reps. It also depends what body part you're training as well to an extend.


Thanks, it's been a passion of mine too as you can see.

I think it's good for some people (who realise that their training doesn't conform to others) to see their type of training on paper (kind of reassuring/like a form of approval).

Some form of structure is definitely needed (or at least strong mental conviction), otherwise we'd all just train our favourite muscle groups and leave the others...or like you said, go to pizza hut lol


While I agree that much of it is psychological (like what I referred to in my other thread, "moderation", about mentally not being able to hold back for the sake of extra volume), I do believe there are definitely principles some people need to stick to in order progress better (more than just "faith").

Take for example one poster who said that he trains legs once, and upper body twice/week. What makes a person decide this...is it not his results/progress?

If I do extra sets for my bodyparts (increase volume), increase calories till gaining...all in the faith that I will get bigger, yet in the long run, it doesn't pan out as well as before with lower volume (despite 100% faith that it would, and dedication and follow through)...was it the program, or me?

If someone's strength stagnates while following their "hero's" training split, was it the program or the individual at fault?


As funny as this may be you never hear of the great athletes like Wayne Gretzky waste a practice by just "winging" it. The biggest word there is DELIBERATE. To become a great "whatever" you need to practice it deliberatly and put a lot of time into it.
EDIT: However, bodybuilding can probably stray away from that word a BIT./ hijack

To answer the question I've trained probably all those groups but I fit more comfortably into group 2. I'm not a big guy by any means but again my body seems to agree with me (with recovery and strength gain) in group 2.


For me:
1. I train everything twice a week.
2. I like to use 2 movements for chest, back, legs, 1 movement each for biceps & triceps,but 3 for delts.
3. I balance weight progression with the ability to "feel" the target muscle.
4. I will sacrafice heavy weight for shorter rest periods and reps 8-15 reps.
5. My joints do not like explosive lifting.
6. My muscles like constant tension with static holds and pauses.
7. At my age,(50 this summer), I constantly assess the risk-benefit ratio of every aspect of my training.
8. I prioritize my training with my weakness, not strength wise but aesthetically.


If you wouldn't mind my asking, what would be your "8 Rules" that you would give the younger version of yourself? What would be your rules for the general 20-28 year old.


Yes I would like to know this too.

I have started to use the mind-muscle connection much, MUCH more. I don't worry about the weight as much anymore, of course I try to increase the weight and reps every time I can but if my form goes to complete shit or I don't feel the muscle I'm trying to stimulate, I step back and lower the weight.


I can't give you a list for your body and personality type. Through trial and error, with lots of patience and honest assessment, you will have to come up with your own list.


For some of us 5,6 reps are high rep. Anything more would fall into the "you want me to do what?" category"


Im pretty sure but not 100% there is a 4th group which is low frequency low volume. I find that method works good for my body but I cant stand being in the gym 3 or 4 days a week I need more!


It all depends on your goals I guess. Most bodybuilders I see at the gyms train to feel the muscle, even if they have to sacrifice the amount of weight they can use.
I don't think doing a set of 3 rep max on curls is a good idea when trying to feel your biceps, but that's just me and my own idea, of course it depends on what exercise you are performing, I would guess if someone is doing a compound movement then heavier weight can be/might be used but not necessarily. it's a mix of both in my opinion.



Agreed. Due to work, I started doing Glenn pendlays 5x5 a month ago, and I can feel myself growing. I've put on 6lbs. PB every session, and its helped me realise I don't need 50 sets in a session to grow. But I hate training for 3 days a week lol.. only downside.


Thibs did an article back in day on this:



Excellent point. I used to be an intensity freak, doing low volume and infrequent sessions. Over the years, due to either injuries (unplanned), and better attention to nutrition (planned), I've transitioned into much more into a volume-trainer and still continued making gains. Like BWhit points out, it's a very individualized process of figuring out your own body.



Good thread.

I would like to add that as much as someone might like to say they are a (to use the OP) group I, II, or III style lifter, people shouldn't look to put themselves in there just cause they feel like it, or cause trainer X does this, or cause big guy Y says to do it.

Trainers should look to be brutally honest and look at their individual responsiveness; this means measure progress, whether it be strength, lean body mass (however you measure it), appearance in the mirror, but something objective to find out what you really respond to. And BE HONEST about whether you are making progress or not.

I don't believe its a psychological thing as to what you do, and will respond to. I think its psychological for what's holding you back from making the gains you should be making, but objectively evaluating progress can easily be achieved.

I have been involved with so many teams and individuals, where the same common program (for whatever reason) leads to person X responding like crazy and person Y making no gains at all.

Personally I have found that very high frequency (body part 4x per week, TBT type training) is the only time I made absolutely no progress. I pulled the plug on this after only a month - no log book progress, no appreciable mirror progress etc. But that's just me.

For me its about finding the balance, since I also made slow progress the training third (how I split up years) I went low frequency/high volume.

Currently I am alternating hitting each bodypart 2x per week, but one session very high volume with the other a more intense rest-pause style session.

So when I talk to people about my progress these 3 years (passed the Prof.X test 13.5-18" arms in 3 years training :wink: and they go

"oh, you have the genetics for it", while I smile and say "I don't know about any of that", inside me I'm just thinking

"no, I've just worked fucking hard to find out what I respond to, then I've absolutely focussed on that and put more into this than you, and you're looking for excuses to let you off so you can keep doing what your doing and making no progress at all".

End rant.


I love that answer. "Oh you have the genetics for it." Yes, i do, it took me years of trial and error and countless hours in the gym, but i found those genetics. *smack