By now the majority among you may have already a certain level of knowledge about weight training and fitness in general.
Honestly, there are so many different variables to keep track of and not being neglected. Volume, intensity, the actual programme and nutrition to just name a few.
But how often should you train? What about Frequency in Weight Training?
Today, I am going to talk to you about what the frequency actually stands for in weight training, how you can determine it yourself and lastly give you some benchmarks for optimal muscle growth.
To being, what actually is Frequency in Weight Training?
Basically, frequency divides your training volume into several training sessions.
The training frequency describes the number of training sessions of a certain muscle group during a certain time. Normally, it is common to use a conventional 7-day week as a timeframe and then assess how often a certain muscle group is trained.
To illustrate, assume that you train your arms three times a week, then you would have an arm frequency of 3.
So far, so good. That’s pretty simple, right
But what happens if your personal microcycle does not go up to 7 days?
Being the case when you train two days followed by one rest day, for example.
Or the other way around:
Now if you count the days of training quite blunt, this results in 3 upper body, as well as 2 lower body sessions in week 1 and in 2 upper body and 3 lower body units in week 2.
How do you get the frequency, based on 7 days?
You simply use the normal rule of three: Just assess how many times you go to the gym on average every day and count it up to 7 days. In our
In order to find out how many times we train on average in one day, we have to find a number, then multiply it by 3 and again results in 2. Since we do not train every day, this number must, of course, be less than 1. Then we simply have to multiply that value by 7 so we get the number of average workouts (in 7 days).
Of course, you could refer the frequency on any other timeframe, but this way we can give more consistent recommendations since we always take 7 days as a point of reference.
So when we talk about a training frequency, we always mean the reference to a training week.
Frequency – Recommendations
To achieve the best possible muscle growth, I would recommend a frequency of 2-3. Thus, you should generally stress every muscle two to three times a week.
In order that you understand the reasons for the above-mentioned recommendation, we will discuss it now.
As you may already know, volume is the most important factor in building muscle.
Now suppose that your programme includes 30 sets of chest work per week. If you were to do all 30 sets in one day, the weight after the 15th sentence would probably be at rock bottom.
However, if you split your 30 sets into 3 sessions of 10 sets, you can handle much more volume in a week or a mesocycle. To clarify this aspect, let’s just go through a small example.
We assume that we want to complete 9 sets in the week for our chest and the performance drop per set is constant at 3%. Of course, the last number is completely fictitious and depends on many different factors.
Furthermore, we calculate the weekly volume for a frequency of 1 and 3. This results in the following average performance.
a) Average performance for frequency = 3
Since we train our chest three times a week, we only have to complete 3 sets per unit to get to 9 sets per week. This results in an average performance of 97%.
b) Average performance for frequency = 1
In contrast, this second table comes up with an average performance of 88%.
Thus, the average performance per chest unit is once 97% (frequency = 3) and once 88% (frequency = 1).
To get the weekly volumes, we simply have to multiply the average performance by the volume of the first set and the number of sets.
If we just assume that 1,000kg were moved in the first set, we get the following volumes:
Frequency of 3 = 3 * 3 * 1000kg * 0.97 = 8,730kg
Frequency of 1 = 1 * 9 * 1000kg * 0.88 = 7,920kg
The first 2 numbers of the calculations describe the number of sets per week (frequency * number of sentences per unit).
The last 2 numbers express the number of repetitions times the weight (on average over all sentences).
Since we start training more often (frequency = 3) with full performance, we have a significantly higher volume with the same number of sets and repetitions.
So, the next time someone tells you he is not training with a high frequency because he prefers high volume, it becomes apparent that this person could certainly make use of some private lesson in weight training.
Namely, the frequency is primarily a tool to increase the weekly volume and, of course, the training stress.
2.) Protein synthesis:
In simple terms, protein synthesis helps build new muscle mass.
To better visualize the process, let’s just assume that our muscles are built like a brick wall. In that case, amino acids would be our bricks and the addition of new stones to increase the wall, the protein synthesis. In contrast, protein degradation (proteolysis) describes the removal of bricks from the brick wall.
In addition, you should know that both processes occur both simultaneously and at any time. To extend the brick wall, you just have to add more bricks to it than you will eventually remove. Consequently, muscle building can only happen if:
Protein synthesis > Protein degradation
In theory, therefore, there is both the option to increase the synthesis and to reduce degradation. While protein synthesis can be very strongly influenced, this does not equally apply to protein breakdown (in healthy athletes).
Even a relatively small amount of protein is sufficient to inhibit protein degradation to its maximum. So if you really want to build muscle, you should try to maximize protein synthesis.
In the case of doping-free athletes, strength training, in addition to a high-protein diet, is the only option to significantly increase protein synthesis.
However, it does not stay elevated permanently training but returns to its base value after roughly 24-72 hours. The period of increase is mainly determined by your training and your genetics.
Some time ago it was assumed that with increasing training level, the duration of the protein synthesis increase is reduced.
In fact, beginners (compared to advanced athletes) have experienced a
However, the mistake was to look at mixed rather than myofibrillar protein synthesis. This describes namely the protein synthesis of the proteins, which can contract and are therefore responsible for muscle growth.
In addition, muscle damage caused by training, which is significantly stronger in beginners, was left out.
Rather than building muscle, much of myofibrillar protein synthesis is used to repair this damage. If one excludes this factor, one can assume that the myofibrillar protein synthesis is not significantly influenced by the training level.
In summary, it can, therefore, be said that after 3 days at the latest the muscle growth effect begins to decrease and accordingly every muscle should probably be trained at least twice a week.
Practice makes perfect.
For example, if you bench more often, you will also be able to learn and perfect the technique much faster.
Not for nothing athletes train in technically demanding sports every day. Some weightlifters even go train twice a day. Especially as a beginner, this point is extremely important.
4.) Training quality
A higher frequency also increases your workout quality as you perform fewer sets of mental and physical fatigue. Maximum concentration is probably no longer effectively possible after 20 sets of squats.
The result: The technique suffers, the target muscle may not be hit properly and the risk of injury increases.
5.) Theory and practice
The study situation clearly shows that a higher frequency at the same volume often results in better progress.
Furthermore, it was formerly (before the ever-increasing use of doping in the last 30 years) on the agenda of every professional bodybuilder to train each muscle at least twice a week.
Only since insulin, growth hormones
Even today, almost all professional bodybuilders use a higher frequency to improve their
6.) Force gains
At the same volume, a higher frequency seems to provide greater strength gains.
If you are only interested in muscle mass, you probably do not have to train every muscle more than two to three times a week.
At a frequency of 3, you would then have all the above-mentioned advantages in
In theory, of course, a frequency of 7 is possible, but it makes training planning much more difficult.
In that case, you should adjust the intensity, load, and number of total reps properly to this high frequency because you have no buffer to offset overreaching sessions that eventually lead to extensive fatigue.
Also, for most (including me), this type of exercise will not be that much fun because the workloads need to be kept relatively low. However, this option is absolutely available to those who prefer this style of training.
Finally, it must be said that
If you have a lot more fun with a low frequency and thus keep it rolling even better, then there is nothing against it.
It does not matter if you have the “perfect” plan for 2 months and then just surrender because you no longer feel like it.
Now, after I’ve talked quite a lot, here are some key points that you should keep in mind about frequency in weight training and how often you should train for optimal muscle growth:
- Usually, the frequency describes your exercise frequency per muscle group per week.
- Optimum frequency for muscle growth: 2-3 per muscle group per week
- Optimal Frequency for Strength: 2-6 (exercise-specific) per muscle group per week
How often do you train each muscle group per week? Do focus on muscle growth or strength training?
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Thanks for the read folks,