T Nation

Training Frequency?


How often should a natural trainee workout in order to gain size and strength ?

At the moment I only train the big lifts once a week using the 5x5 system as I can only train 3 times a week due to other commitments.


3 times a week focusing on the big 3 once a week is plenty... I have pretty much ran a 3 day a week for years very occasionly going to 4 times. Just train hard on the few times you have and your good to go


3-4 times a week, with 80-90% of the work being compound movements.


Thanks for the input, the reason I ask is that I read an article on here by Dan Blewett where he stated the following "If a worthwhile lift is only performed once per week, it's likely not going to improve, and if it's unlikely to improve, why bother?"

This then got me thinking, however although I only perform the big lifts once a week there is some overlap in my training so the various muscle groups do get trained indirectly plus I know the respected Wendler's 531 program only had you hitting the big lifts once a week too, I think I was probably just after some reassurance :slight_smile:


The answer is a lot like meal frequency. overall work done is far more important than frequency. Training hard for 8 straight hours one day a week is harder to recover from than 30 minutes 7 days a week. What you need to focus on is the amount of training you are doing, then you can basically divide it up however you want short of doing something stupid (like power cleans after heavy deadlifts)

You can literally take those 3 workouts you'd do mentioned above and divide the training into as many days as you'd like.

for example if you do 3 sets of 10 squatting one day a week, you can just as easily work up to 1 set of 10, 3 days a week. It never made sense to me that people seem to think you can recover from 3x10 better than 1x10 3 times.

That said, if I had only 3 days a week, I'd probably do either tbt or a 2 way split like push/pull, or upper/lower and just alternate every workout.

probably would end up with what you'd call TBT because I'd squat every training day. =0)


Thanks for the input DoubleDuce, I keep my training sessions under an hour as I've read that is best so at this moment in time i'm not doing much volume in fact each work out only has 9 work sets however I add weight to these sets every session ie I started comfortable and increase the weight each session.

I train at home for two of the work outs as that's what I prefer however I go to the gym once a week just to do squats, I did Wendlers big but boring program for a couple of cycles and quickly realised that 5x10 bodyweight squats after the 531 didn't leave me with much in the tank for much else lol.


Thats great progress, stick to the exact program you're doing until you stall.
Which 5x5 template are you on?


I think your on the right track Treadway. You took the Dan Blewit quote all wrong though. I believe it was " If it's worth doing, it's worth doing often" not "If you can't do it often, don't bother at all" There's a big differance between those quotes, and I hope that helps.

Somtimes beginers get confused by the differances in high level coaches programs. I'll give you a hint to long term sucsess, instead of looking for the differances in programs, start looking for the similaities in big name coaches programs, and focus on putting these in your traing.

I think your already doing this,#1, focusing on compound movements,#2, keeping workouts around 1 hour, #3, 3-4 workouts a week, #4,training big movements in the 5ish rep range, #5, not putting to much focus on isolation lifts. The point is Dan Blewett, Jim Wendler, Dan John, Eric Cressey, and probably most other strength coaches are mostly in agreement on these points you are already doing.

So you can never go wrong finding similarities in training routines, but can waste time, and make yourself nuts finding differances. Goodluck


RampatBadger the 5x5 program i'm following is a variation of the big bench course written by Brook Kubik and edited by Stuart McRobert, and is as follows:

Saturdays ( at home ) Reverse grip bent over rows, Bench press, Deadlifts.

Tuesdays ( at the gym ) Squats and I throw in some shrugs and sometimes some wide grip upright rows

Thursdays ( at home ) weighted chins/pullups various grips, Close grip bench press, Barbell curls.

So far its going well obviously its starting to get a bit tougher but I haven't stalled yet so i'm hoping to get another month out of it maybe more. I was thinking of following it up with a 10x3 program as I would like to gain a little size whilst still being able to work on my strength.

AnytimeJake the comment I made regards Dan Blewett I actually copied word for word so I don't think I misread it but as you say I probably didn't understand it, perhaps when he insists on a lift being trained multiple times a week he was referring to those that require a greater amount of skill to perform such as Olympic lifts.


This right here...


Ya I went back and read the quote, your right, I can't understand Dan being so final on the subject, but anyway. You and I have talked before, and I'm a big Mc Roberts fan, Beyond Brawn has been my bible for 20+ years. Every lifter needs a methodolgy of what to believe, to be able to seperate fact from fiction, so many experts now with the internet. If I were you I'd stick with Stuarts training advice as fact, and be carefull trusting other sorces. This seems to be working for you. I think I've read Beyond Brawn atleast 30 times in my life, this plus Bill Star, and more recently Wendler forms the basis of my training for all my clients, plus myself, can't go wrong, Goodluck


Why must the "big lifts" always be 5x5? I'd get some higher rep action in there (except maybe deads) especially if you go higher frequency on a single lift.

Huge fan of TBT now over bro-splits, just sucks not to be in the gym lifting more often.


giograves I have used higher reps combined with lower reps when I did a couple of cycles of wendlers big but boring program, unfortunately it didn't really suit my needs at the time but no doubt I will go back to it eventually.

For me personally I use a 5x5 program for the big lifts as i'm more interested in building my strength and 1 rep max than I am regards gaining size....that's not to say I wouldn't mind more size though :slight_smile:


Here's how I judge it:
I jump onto my pullup bar. If I am incapable of performing a pullup due to lack of energy, soreness, etc. I don't train.
Then I perform bodyweight squats. If this causes too much pain, I don't train.
Then I perform a pushup. If that causes too much pain, I don't train.

It sounds daft, I know, but I'm not good at keeping logs up to date. From what logs I do complete, weight training seems to happen anywhere between 2 and 4 times a week.


If you have gone through puberty and are now fully functioning after your growth spurts than you should be able to train daily.
When your bones grow your muscles are under constant stress, they don't over train they adapt


Liam unfortunately some of us have limited free time hence only being able to train 3 times a week due to outside commitments that was why I asked the question originally.


Speaking of frequency, is it possible that you can make solid strength and muscle mass gains in the legs by only doing one lower body workout per week? I ask this because according to the W4SB II template, it seems like you don't have to do more than one lower body workout per week.




On the 5x5 program I only do squats once a week and although I started light to begin I have been able to add weight every week , at my last session I squatted 1.5 x my body weight and reckon I have still got room to keep my weekly weight increases going.

I do deadlifts on a different day so this might have some carry over although I don't think it does in my case.


But isn't that only if you're already moving heavy weights and well beyond being a beginner?

Obviously your legs won't atrophy away just because you lift once a week, but that doesn't seem enough stimulus unless you're already capable of putting in a LOT of work on the day that you do squat/deadlift/whatever.