T Nation

Workout Frequency

Christian- Most guys in my gym hit each body part once per week. 12-16 sets per bodypart I’d say. The “traditional” bodybuilding workout. I’ve subscribed to this philosophy in the past and had decent results. But never a ripped athletic look (which probably has more to do with diet).

I’ve really been reading into higher frequency training methods from yourself and Chad Waterbury in particular. Can these style workouts really promote the same amount, if not more, muscle mass than traditional body building workouts. Or are these high frequency systems that incorporate 10x3 methods more for athletes and functional strength? Me personally I like the mass but also want to have a ripped and muscular physique. Any advice differentiating through high frequency benefits vs. traditional bodybuilding methods?

Take my experience - avi was me in my last physique competition. I did ok in my class but got docked off for posing and non-physique related stuff.

I don’t use any PEDs and thought the improvement in physique training “performance style” ala CT actually made a difference. Whereas, previous bro splits would always make me look bloated, and maybe temporarily “built” looking with a shirt on.

But no rippedness/8 pack abs/adonis belt. Hard lean look is vastly more attractive (to mainstream) and probably more attainable without using steroids.

With that said, I’m always experimenting with different training stuff. Perhaps I never gave traditional “bodybuilding” training an earnest try (primarily diet) but I just intuitively feel that the performance stuff makes my body look better and process nutrients better. Ramped up metabolism, nervous system, or just placebo…who knows, it got me to half decent showing up on a npc stage.

I’m a little disllusioned now with IFBB pro physique guys. They use drugs. Maybe I will dabble eventually and the difference will be even more marked.

But case in point, for me as a natural trainee, CT’s training style has given the me best foundation for physique. Maybe it was the perfect rep, or learning to focus on heavy lifts less so than all the 10x3, high frequency stuff. But separating the programming and rep execution might be easier said than done…there’s a certain amount of practicality/magic in CT’s programming that I haven’t gotten from many other programs (and I’ve been on probably every training bandwagon in my neurotic search for the “best”).

Yeah I agree. It seems like the “bro splits” are more tailored to guys using drugs. Can i really stimulate a muscle enough training it to failure once a week? It seems like the more frequency is more beneficial to a natural lifter.

I think that there is a difference between the depletion and supercompensation cycle used by bodybuilders, and the slow but constant myofibrilar hypertrophy that comes from frequent but non depleting strength “stimulation”. Stimulating the muscles from a strength perspective but keeping reps to 5 or less, or even 3 or less upregulates the motor units, it “gently” deforms the tendons causing thickening, it forces the nerve rates up, it causes a little micro damage which gets the immune system to clean out damaged proteins, promotes blood flow, and even helps recovery from the last workout, but it does not deplete the muscles’ energy reserves or cause catabolism of muscle proteins for energy which is basically a traumatic event requiring 5-10 days to recover from. So if you use a hfst approach you could still use a high rep approach once every 5-10 days (maybe once a week), but the basic recovery cycle from a strength activation workout is 24-48 hours.

Maybe an occasional extra day off to make up for a build up of microtrauma makes sense, but I’ve found that I get nothing from 1x per week training, some results from 2, and better results from 3 (and even more if I limit the volume).

The two “standard” approaches that have worked long term for me have been, 3x per week in the strength/strength hypertrophy range of 1-5 reps per set, about 6-20 total reps per movement. For example, 4 x 5 at 75%-80%, 5 x 3 at 80%-85%, 8 x 1 at 85%-95% on 3 different days (if I go to 4 then one should be 5-10% lighter).

The second approach which I may alternate with this for 2-4 week stretches is 2x per week, one day strength, like before and one day of a ramp followed by 2-3 hard sets in the 60-75% range, maybe a week at 60, 65, 70 and 75.

I am thinking about doing something in-between now, one day of strength, cycling between 4 x 5, 5 x 3, and 8 x 1 (at about 75, 80 and 85-90% of a true max), one day of a ramp followed by 3 hard sets in the 60-75% range, and then a third strength day but using about 90% of day 1 weights. You could do this on a 6 day two way split or on a total body routine using 4-5 exercises, or on a total body a and b where you flip flop a, b, a, on week 1 and b, a, b on week 2. By the way, I currently would not do sets of more than 5 if I am not eating at least a maintenance level of calories. If reducing cals, stick to high frequency with multiple sets of 1-3 at 80-90% of your capacity.

From my experience, naturals on better off training more frequently. As often as you can recover.

Eccentricless training is awesome for this

Focus on max force and turning on as many motor units as you can (simply stated most of your training, if not all should focus on bar speed, as in when you notice a rep is harder than the previous you are not generating max force and max tension and you are making it harder to recover (central nervous system, which runs your body the rest of the day and doesn’t get a day off)

Big compound movements give the best hormonal response

Peri-Workout nutrition is CRITICAL if you want to build muscle

Make a plan, follow it, take a look at the results you are getting and adjust.

Sleep 7-10 hours a night

Eat high quality nutrients and enough to recover

Record your workouts, if your weights are going up you’re good, if not, you are not recovering

Pick something and get good at it and stick with it (Have tools and philosophies over workouts

The more explosive you are the better

I know this sounds simple, but I think people read too much and over complicate stuff. I’m certainly not trying to talk down to you or anything like that, just be helpful and keep things simple.

I love high frequency training myself and the perfect rep technique. I stay more ripped, in fact I have to make a big effort to put weight on training this way. It’s much easier to stay ripped.

Your muscles recover much easier than your nervous system. Take care of your nervous system and it will take care of you.