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Volume or Frequency

Hello guys, just thought it would be good if you would share your experience on the matter. So, in terms of getting stronger, do you prefer to train the three main lifts more often ( two/three/four times a week ) with lighter weights, or do you prefer to go all out on an exercise and come back to it after a week ? Volume or frequency ?

P.s. I personally prefer working with lighter weights ( 90% 1 r.m. ) for squats and bench, but train them at least three times a week, except deadlift. For the deadlift, I do it once a week, all out, that’s the way it works for me. thanks in advance guys ( and girls ) .

Lol at 90% being “lighter weights”…

I’ve tried a bunch of things in the past and here’s what I’ve been able to piece together so far from my training.

Squat:
Super high frequency, high intensity, and either low or high volumes, but if I need to take any time off for longer than half a week I lose weeks worth of progress. I also am in pain almost every day I’m doing this, but the lift improves.
Because the above is impractical and probably not sustainable for me, I’ve made good progress decreasing the frequency to 2-3 times a week, lowering the intensity to 70-80% and somewhat more volume per day for the accumulation block and working up from there into the intensification block. Still toying around with specificity on the squat, although at this point it seems like the more specific my lifting is the better.

Bench:
I can feel recovered from a bench session in just a couple hours, meaning if I wanted to I could (and have) benched up to 6 times a week with high intensity and usually low to moderate volume, depending on the day. Unfortunately, although I seem to recover just fine from these sessions, it doesn’t improve my bench a whole lot.
Further revision has led me to find that, much like my squat, my bench needs a little bit lower frequency and a little less specificity than I was giving it: 3 times a week total with the competition bench or a very close alternative (e.g. one board, 3 ct. pause, etc.) making up two of those sessions and one of those sessions being a less-specific movement (e.g. incline bench, floor press, dead bench, etc.). These are all typically 80-90% with moderate volume.

Deadlift:
This one has been all over the place. Sometimes if I increase the frequency my deadlift spikes, other times it falls. So I’ve settled on one heavy day a week (80-90%) with relatively low volume and then one lighter assistance lift (block pull, pulls against bands, pull to the knees, etc.) once a week, either on my heavy deadlift day or on a separate day, to get more volume without taxing the CNS too much.

You’re actually missing one piece of the puzzle here. It’s not just volume or frequency; there is volume, frequency, and intensity. So basically frequency is just how often you do the same life or body part, volume is the number of bar lifts in your work sets independent of weight so sets x reps, and intensity is basically how heavy you go.

You can balance these in different ways. If you try to go all out on volume, frequency, and intensity then you will burn yourself out. A popular method is to go pretty high frequency and high volume with lighter weight. Some people also like obliterating one thing with high intensity and high volume but only doing it relatively infrequently. Then that leaves going heavy often, but not doing much volume. That last one is probably not a good option for building, more for just peaking your strength.

On the squat, high volume, frequency and intensity raised my max from 132.5 kg in january this year to 180 kg in july (now). I did daily maxes 6 days per week, sometimes twice per day, on average maybe squatting 8-9 times per week at age 17-18 without gaining any bodyweight. Actually got leaner.

On the bench sheiko style moderate-high volume of simply benching 3-5 times per week, mostly working around 75% really has worked. My bench went up from 110 kg to 140 kg since christmas 2013.

On the deadlift, pulling singles up to ~80% and occasionally going heavier 3 times a week took my deadlift from 180 kg around christmas 2013 to around 230 kg at this point in time. Having a good structure for the deadlift, simply deadlifting a lot seems to make it go up. High volume/frequency training makes me feel like shit, but the periods where I felt like shit are what got me strongest.

Something people don’t talk about enough is the context of the training method, particularly with respect to the point in a lifter’s career in which it’s implemented. If you’re a beginner or intermediate squatter, something conventional like 1-2x/week squatting with a pretty straight line progression is what you should be doing, for one because it will work well for you, but also because it is simple and you should preserve more complex training methods for when they become necessary. Yeah, daily squatting might work a little better for you for awhile, but then diminishing returns kick in. Now where do you go?

Too often on the internet, you see stories about guys squatting six days a week to get to a 405 squat, which is ludicrous to me. If that’s really what it took to get you there, you have no idea how to program, and replaced intelligent programming with a mindless high frequency approach. You’ve also considerably lowered your ultimate ceiling. Congrats.

If daily maxing is what it takes to get you from 600 to 625 or something like that, then you do what you need to do. You should never use an advanced method until you actually need it. Always leave yourself a next move.

[quote]devoted wrote:
Hello guys, just thought it would be good if you would share your experience on the matter. So, in terms of getting stronger, do you prefer to train the three main lifts more often ( two/three/four times a week ) with lighter weights, or do you prefer to go all out on an exercise and come back to it after a week ? Volume or frequency ?
[/quote]

I pretty much never train the main lifts, only partials and variations of them. I deadlift once every 2 months, and rely primarily on the dead bench and squat to chains for the rest of my training.

As for training lifts that build the lifts, I train 4 days a week and dedicate a day each week specifically to each lift (squat, bench, dead and also the overhead press). I find that there is a pretty good amount of carryover in terms of assistance work for squats to deads and bench to press, so in that regard, I’m training the building lifts twice a week.

My squat is progressing nicely with just 3x per week after squatting to a max everyday and generally training probably 20 hours a week. I’ve heard many people talk about using advanced programming too early, but it really hasn’t given me anything but great results, both in terms of muscle mass and strength, relatively speaking. My friend, who has severe thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis fucked himself up on advanced programming, seeing as how he has even less of a strength base than I do. I’m convinced high frequency programming will take me on to a 250 kg (551) around the end of year.

Your theory is that by training advanced programming, I increase my body’s volume capacity and I’ll need to do more and more in order to get gains after squatting +6 times per week, yes?

[quote]OmniStyx wrote:
Lol at 90% being “lighter weights”…

I’ve tried a bunch of things in the past and here’s what I’ve been able to piece together so far from my training.

Squat:
Super high frequency, high intensity, and either low or high volumes, but if I need to take any time off for longer than half a week I lose weeks worth of progress. I also am in pain almost every day I’m doing this, but the lift improves.
Because the above is impractical and probably not sustainable for me, I’ve made good progress decreasing the frequency to 2-3 times a week, lowering the intensity to 70-80% and somewhat more volume per day for the accumulation block and working up from there into the intensification block. Still toying around with specificity on the squat, although at this point it seems like the more specific my lifting is the better.

Bench:
I can feel recovered from a bench session in just a couple hours, meaning if I wanted to I could (and have) benched up to 6 times a week with high intensity and usually low to moderate volume, depending on the day. Unfortunately, although I seem to recover just fine from these sessions, it doesn’t improve my bench a whole lot.
Further revision has led me to find that, much like my squat, my bench needs a little bit lower frequency and a little less specificity than I was giving it: 3 times a week total with the competition bench or a very close alternative (e.g. one board, 3 ct. pause, etc.) making up two of those sessions and one of those sessions being a less-specific movement (e.g. incline bench, floor press, dead bench, etc.). These are all typically 80-90% with moderate volume.

Deadlift:
This one has been all over the place. Sometimes if I increase the frequency my deadlift spikes, other times it falls. So I’ve settled on one heavy day a week (80-90%) with relatively low volume and then one lighter assistance lift (block pull, pulls against bands, pull to the knees, etc.) once a week, either on my heavy deadlift day or on a separate day, to get more volume without taxing the CNS too much.[/quote]

There could be some issues with your approach. Whilst I’m no expert, I have been doing this a few weeks now and pain, not sustainable, poor results and “all over the place” might be an indication of an issue.

I really feel this has a lot to do with training age.

A beginner can probably almost always make good gains using a linear periodization scheme that keeps both volume and frequency relatively low. When this fails to yield results, the lifter would probably need to increase one of the two variables to get things going again.

I think high-frequency mesocycles can be useful for intermediates like myself for bringing up a lagging lift (this always works for me in the squat), but shouldn’t be the mainstay of programming until they’ve reached an advanced level. It’s easy to increase volume and frequency and produce short-term results, but it’s very difficult to decrease these variables as one’s training age increases. That is, intermediate to advanced lifters need to increase volume and/or frequency to continue to progress over the long term, so if they’ve already been training as intermediate lifters, say, six times a week using moderate to high volume, they might only produce results if they start incorporating two-a-days, which is obviously less than ideal for most people in the sport.

This is one of the reasons why I won’t get into Sheiko programming until I’ve stopped progressing using my current methods, in which I train four times a week, hitting each powerlifting twice a week with moderate volume.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but I’m just basing this off of my own experience, from what I’ve heard and what I’ve read in basic training reads (Bompa, Verkhoshansky etc.).

tsantos: Obviously there’s been something wrong with every approach I’ve tried in the past, otherwise I would never have switched to any other program because I would have found the perfect one for me. You’ve been doing what, exactly, for a few weeks? Pseudo-Bulgarian style? I have a year’s cumulative experience with pseudo-Bulgarian training, or close analogs thereof. If you want an idea of why it wasn’t sustainable for me, go read Mike T’s article “The Case Against Specificity.” There were also a number of other factors, like time I’m willing to commit each week to go to the gym. I will comfortably be able to spend 3 days a week in the gym, 4 if necessary. Going up to 5 just isn’t happening, let alone 6, because I have several 400-level physics courses, two clubs to run, some semblance of a social life, and I still need enough time to do nothing by myself to keep myself sane.

On the pain side, there’s a whole essay I could write about why I’m as susceptible to pain as I am. The short version: I have extreme joint laxity in my shoulders and hips and very long limbs compared to my torso length, making it extremely difficult to keep perfectly tight at the bottom of the eccentric in both the squat and the bench. Losing tension causes soft-tissue damage which leads to pain. This soft-tissue damage impairs recovery and makes me more prone to this damage for the next sessions. Couple this with very high frequency and it’s a recipe for chronic pain.

“All over the place” actually referred to me not knowing exactly what brings my deadlift up. Deadlifting twice a week to a near-max single did only a little bit for my training max, but then a few weeks later I hit a 60-pound PR at a meet. On the other hand, deadlifting once a week brought up my 5 RM by 100 pounds in 11 weeks but brought up my 1 RM by only 10-15 pounds.