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Training Frequency and Recovery Issues

I need some help with my programming regarding training frequency and recovery. I’ve been training for 3 years now and gained 50lbs (I was very underweight when I started) - not all of that was muscle tbh. After 3 years I’m starting to know my body quite well in terms of which exercises work, which don’t etc. But there’s always the same pitfall for me, namely recovery.

I always try to apply known scientific principles like keeping a training frequency of at least twice a week for a given muscle group. However, I feel like that’s excessive for me. I have a pretty busy job, I’m on my feet a lot, lots of stress so I thought it was because of my job that I don’t recover fast enough. Now I’ve taken a deload week, can’t go to work bc of the corona virus and I started doing my home workouts (I have some equipment to keep me busy). So I’m fully rested now.

Tuesday was a push workout, Wednesday a pull workout, Thursday legs and yesterday I just went for a walk (about 1 hour). Like I said, I don’t use excessive volume (e.g. push day was 7 sets for chest, 4 lateral delts and 4 triceps) - all in the 8-15 rep range, 1-2 reps from failure. I tried the same workout today (3 days in between) and failed miserably. My strength was 10-20% less than 4 days ago, even though I’ve really stuck to my nutrition these past 2 weeks, sleep is better than ever, I have ZERO stress and I’m not doing anything exhausting. Muscles are not really sore anymore either.

In the past I went with full body workouts, which became too draining, so I switched to upper/lower. That worked fine for a while but after a few weeks I always get ‘sick’, which lasts a week - I just feel sluggish, tired, strength drops… I then take a step back and perform PPL just once a week (or rotate it so I do 4 w/o one week, 3 the next). This seems to work fine for recovery, but I always go back to higher frequency programs because “they’re proven to be better” - at least that’s what I keep reading/hearing - and I’m ‘afraid’ that the ‘once a week’ frequency won’t work.

I’ve tried doing U/L just 3 times a week instead of 4, but I keep running into the same issues here. Another thing to note are joint pains when pressing too frequently. I can take pressing twice a week for 2-3 weeks and then I get constant aches and pains, which go away after a week off.

So my question basically is: I want to train in an optimal way for myself, which maybe isn’t ‘optimal’ as in the fastest way to get to my goal. Based on the info I gave, which approach would you recommend?

Sorry for the long post, but you guys probably have a lot of time on your hands now :slight_smile:

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Rotate through proven programs off this site/plan as per below will keep you fresh…

If you’ve experimented on yourself a bunch, and lower frequency works better, Do That.

You didn’t mention what Goal you were in a hurry achieve, but lots of people train once per week frequency for lots of different goals.

My goal is to get to about 180-190 at 10% (Depending on how I look once I reached that weight) and maintain that year round. Currently I’m at 175lbs, 15-16%. More oriented towards men’s physique type off-season build. Just lean and carrying a good amount of muscle.

So muscle growth in general. Also keeping myself injury free, as I have a torn labrum in my left shoulder. A years worth of PT fixed that for the most part and I noticed that gaining shoulder strength helped a lot with pain management.

When you change (reduce) frequency, are you increasing the loading parameters to accommodate for the reduced frequency?

Sometimes when people try to do “less” they just plunge themselves into a deficit differently.

Is that possible here?

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Plenty of guys training for mass in general, and Physique/Bodybuilding specifically use “lower” frequency or once a week, or however you want to think about it.

Dudes who advocate high frequency have studies and stories backing it up. But if you dig around, lower frequency guys have tons of studies and stories of how that way is better.

A couple years back some research bros did a study and wrote an article promoting high frequency. Part of the study was asking Bodybuilders how they trained and every one said they used since per week type split.

So don’t worry about missing out on gains or anything silly like that.

Also remember that “Optimal” means sustainable and balanced. If you train 3 days a week for awhile you’ll do enough work and push hard enough for 3 days per week. You’ll do the “optimal” training for that frequency. If you suddenly add a 4th day, and train the same way,volume and intensity wise, you’ve just added 33% to your workload. That’s a huge jump, that throws off the training/recovery balance and makes your training unsustainable.


What does your actual split look like? Exercises, sets and reps.

Did you switch exercises between sessions??

Has calories decreased? how is sleep? I have to cut back frequency in a deficit. I can sustain 3 on 1 off if i am eating a lot, but if i drop calories, i have to go to 4x a week or cut back volume