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high frequency training for mass

Build Muscle Fast with High Frequency Training

Key Points:

– High-Frequency Training produces a greater increase in anabolic hormones and increases protein synthesis to help you build muscle.

– High-Frequency Training increases the speed of motor learning, helping you learn new skills, lifts, and exercises faster.

– High-Frequency Training can rapidly improve strength and accelerate muscle building in beginners and advanced lifters.  

– High-Frequency Training does require a plan. You must reduce training volume to make it work. 

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With the vast number of training programs out there it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. After all, every new article seems to contradict the last and make building muscle way too complicated.

In reality, not much has changed over the years when it comes to human physiology. Building muscle still comes down to creating a response (training), fueling the body (sleep and food), and recovering from the stress response to training.

When it comes to muscle-building workouts you’re really limited to two options: training more often or doing more work within each workout or using a higher training volume.

Should you train one muscle group per workout and pound it into oblivion like a bodybuilder or would you be better training your muscles more frequently, but not to the point of utter destruction during each workout?


My experience says the later: more frequent but shorter workouts reign king for building muscle fast, especially for the average, non-steroid using lifter. Still, you’ll need to manage fatigue and train with shorter workouts to maximize your gains.  

So, what does this mean for you, the busy guy who wants to add size to your chest, shoulders, and back and wonders,  “what is the best way to gain muscle fast?”

Well, listen up my friend.  High-frequency training is the answer.

Problems with Body-Part Splits

Body part splits, those often performed by high-level bodybuilders often aren’t the best option for busy (and non-juiced) guys who’re looking to build muscle.

First, most lifters aren’t advanced enough to really benefit from a ton of isolation exercises like curls because they don’t have the prerequisite strength to create the tension needed to grow.

Having an expertly designed plan with plenty of compound exercises (like squats or rows) can change this. Unfortunately, well-designed body-part splits are uncommon due to poor exercise selection, rep schemes, and total volume.


Second, most magazine generated body part splits take a long time. Let’s face it, you don’t have 90 minutes to train. 

Third, the average busy guy misses training sessions, most commonly legs or back but never chest or arms, and thus, his training is unbalanced. This stunts growth and can open the door for injuries. 

As a quick refresher, here’s what these typically look like:

  1. Monday: Chest
  2. Tuesday: Back
  3. Wednesday: Legs
  4. Thursday: Shoulders 
  5. Friday: Arms

Yes, you probably feel more soreness after these workouts and it makes you feel like you’re doing everything you need to grow. But excess soreness isn’t a great indicator you’ll build more muscle. It simply means you’ve done more than your body is accustomed. 

High-Frequency Training For Natural Lifters

Protein synthesis is a key driver of muscle growth.  But if you’re a regular, steroid free lifter there is only so much protein you can trigger in one workout.

Further, protein synthesis stays elevated for roughly 24-36 hours after training. In this case, more volume per workout is not better when it comes to building muscle, hitting your muscles more often is. 

As a drug-free busy guy, your focus needs to be on getting stronger in the gym, triggering protein synthesis, and getting on with your life: not destroying every fiber of your biceps like a pro bodybuilder.  

Further, when it comes to training like a bodybuilder consider the following: bodybuilders often focus their entire lifestyle on improving their physique. This means seven to ten hours of sleep, little alcohol, disciplined dieting, and maintaining this consistently for years.

This is more than the average dude with a 9-5, a social life, and a family can muster.  You must work within the confines of your lifestyle and time commitments to maximize the results of your training, and this is precisely what I’m going to show you.

High-Frequency Training Builds More Muscle

The more often you stimulate a physiological response to training, the more often you boost protein synthesis and anabolic hormone levels to build muscle.

Here Are The Key Reasons High-Frequency Training Is Better for Helping You Build More Muscle:

Each time you train and eclipse your bodies’ minimum essential strain (MES), you trigger an anabolic response in the body. This results in an uptick in protein synthesis as well as triggering anabolic hormones like testosterone, IGF-1, and human growth hormone(Craig, 1989 et al). 

 In a 2010 study titled Anabolic processes in human skeletal muscle: Restoring the identities of growth hormone and testosterone, it was found that repeated phases of net protein balance, which are a response to repeated bouts of resistance exercise and protein ingestion, underpins muscle hypertrophy.

Further, a  2017 meta-analysis of 15 different studies published in theJournal of Sport Science said:“Results showed an incremental dose-response relationship whereby progressively higher weekly training volumes resulted in greater muscle hypertrophy.” This indicates training body parts more often is ideal for building muscle because of this in part, means a higher training volume overall. When you spread your training volume out throughout the week your muscles will have more time to recover and grow between workout sessions.

When programmed correctly, high-frequency training triggers more frequent protein synthesis, allows ample recovery time, and triggers more frequent secretion of muscle building hormones to help you build muscle faster.

 

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High Frequency Improves Strength Gains

Placing an emphasis on getting stronger will directly build muscle if done by beginners while advanced trainees will progressively build muscle as a byproduct of greater work capacity.

With that in mind, getting strong must be an emphasis if you’re looking to build muscle as it helps you lift more weight for more reps, increasing training volume for greater stress to your muscles.

Build Muscle Fast with High Frequency Training, high frequency training

A 1997 study titled Isometric Torso Rotation Strength: effect of training frequency on its development 33 men and 25 women were tested for rotational strength before and after 12 weeks of training.

Groups split into training groups that exercise one, two, or three times per week. Although there were no major differences between groups training 2-3x per week, strength was significantly increased compared to the one time per week training group (DeMichele, 1997).

Then, in 2000 a study titled “Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects” took 25 experienced participants and randomly separated them into training groups.

Group one performed one day per week of strength training with three sets to failure, with rep ranges moving from three to ten reps per set.

Group two performed workouts three days per week with one set to failure per day while working in the same rep ranges.

Volume was the exact same, yet group two (high-frequency training group) had greater increases in both lean body mass and improved one-rep max strength.

With total volume held constant, spreading the training to three doses per week produced superior results in both strength and muscular hypertrophy.

Considerations for High-Frequency Training

High-frequency training is a relative term, so for all intensive purposes, high-frequency training is more often than you currently train. 

There are three caveats to all of this. 

First, no training plan is worth a lick if you can’t do it consistently. Your ability to complete full training cycles (and not program hop to the next “hot” workout) is arguably the most important factor for transforming your body. 

Second, training frequency and training volume are inversely related. You can’t train most days of the week and train with a ton of volume (or weight) and expect to see results.  It’s best to train 5-6 days per week with shorter workouts that hit major muscle groups in every workout.

Keep a moderate intra-workout volume to promote recovery and maximize growth. You’ll end up with a higher weekly volume without crippling soreness for better recovery and better muscle growth. More on this later. 

Third, if you want to build muscle you need a slight caloric surplus. Too many lifters tend to forget this and blame hard gainer genetics when in reality, they need to eat and train consistently for longer than two months. The muscle building process is a slow, long-term game, as shown here by Lyle McDonald’s muscle growth model.

 

Train With Sufficient Volume

Training volume, the total number of reps and/or time under tension is an important variable for building muscle. Thus, you must look at training volume on a weekly basis rather than a per workout basis. Research has indicated between 30-60 reps per muscle group per workout to be ideal for building muscle.

Unfortunately, this is where most body-part splits miss the boat, drastically overshooting training volume.  This becomes a little more practical with higher frequency, lower volume training plans, like the HFT program here.

Let’s say your chest was trained three times per week. You could hit your volume by doing the following:

Workout One: 55 reps
Barbell Bench Press 5×5 (25 total reps)

Cable Chest Fly 2×15 (30 total reps)

Workout Two: 40 reps
Weighted Dips 4×10

Workout Three: 50 reps
Dumbbell Incline Bench Press 5×10

Important: Please note this isn’t the only training you’d be doing on those days.

As you can see, this provides a much more practical way to spread your training out across the week. 

Get your Free HFT Mass Program Here!

Use Mini-Circuits 

I routinely recommend five-minute micro-routines to accelerate muscle growth. These also do wonders for the “I’m too busy crowd” who only has a few minutes to spare most days of the week.

 

In the case of high-frequency training, mini-workouts to stimulate muscles will induce bouts of protein synthesis and increases in anabolic hormones to get you jacked.

Use this brief circuit, all you need is a doorframe chin-up bar or a mini-band. Hit this workout 2-3x/ week on non-training days or 8-12 hours apart from a typical training session.

1a. Chin Up 3×5 or band pull-aparts 4×15

1b. Push-Up 3-15-20

1c. Bodyweight Squats 3×15

 Preserve the Nervous System

You can’t train hard, heavy, and explosive every single day. If you did, you’d end up a tired, weak, cortisol ridden mess. To optimize muscle growth with high-frequency training you must alternate heavy and explosive workouts with lighter, less demanding workouts. Remember, you can only grow from the workouts you can recover from. 

In other words, one day is spent working with more explosive exercises and higher overall training loads and another day with submaximal weights and higher training volumes.

 

Build Muscle Fast with High-Frequency Training

As long as you keep your workouts short and focused you will see incredible results with high-frequency training. You’ll improve technique on your big lifts and build strength faster by practicing them more often. 

Since you’re training more frequently, you’ll increase work capacity throughout your entire body, allowing you to train harder and longer in the future.

Plus, you’ll stimulate anabolic hormones and protein synthesis more often to build more muscle than training with less frequent, body part splits.

It’s time to drop the body-part split act and get serious about building muscle. High-frequency training is the answer.

Get your Free HFT Mass Program Here!

DeMichele, P. L., Pollock, M. L., Graves, J. E., Foster, D. N., Carpenter, D., Garzarella, L., Brechue, W., & Fulton, M. (1997). Isometric torso rotation strength: effect of training frequency on its development. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 78(1), 64-69. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9014960

MacDougall JD, Gibala MJ, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDonald JR, Interisano SA, Yarasheski KE. The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 1995 Dec;20(4):480-6

McLester, J., Bishop, E., & Guilliams, M. (2000). Comparison of 1 day and 3 days per week of equal-volume resistance training in experienced subjects. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 14(3). Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2000/08000/Comparison_of_1_Day_and_3_Days_Per_Week_of.6.aspx

Phillips SM, Tipton KD, Aarsland A, Wolf SE, Wolfe RR.  Mixed muscle protein synthesis and breakdown after resistance exercise in humans. Am J Physiol. 1997 Jul;273(1 Pt 1):E99-107

Phillips, S., & West, D. (2010). Anabolic processes in human skeletal muscle: restoring the identities of growth hormone and testosterone. Physican and Sportsmedicine, 38(3), 97-104. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.10.1814

 

High Frequency Training: Your Strength Building Solution

Expert Tips to Build Muscle, build muscle

High Frequency Training is a hotly debated topic.

Some “experts” say you should demolish every muscle once per week, blitzing the body part split. Others say focus on an upper-lower or total body split because training major movement patterns more frequently will stimulate faster gains in strength and size.

I’m with High Frequency Training. Here’s Why. 

Training Frequency the number of sessions performed per unit of time, is the most important training variable for building size, strength, and skill mastery for beginners.

For those looking to gain muscle and strength frequent training is the premier and logical choice for the fastest gains. Unfortunately, most people still follow bodybuilding body-part split routines popularized in every fitness magazine over the last three decades. These routines aren’t ideal for anyone except high-level bodybuilders.

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Consider the Following:

If you’re learning a new language is it best to study for five hours one day per week, or 45 minutes seven days per week?

Would you be stronger performing squats in 52 workouts per year or 104?

I would go with 45 minutes per day, seven days per week and 104 workouts without a doubt.

But Why?

Consistent exposure to stimuli is vital for learning new things and movement patterns.

The Research on High Frequency Training

In 2000 the study Comparison of 1 Day and 3 Days Per Week of Equal-Volume Resistance Training in Experienced Subjects 25 experienced participants were randomly separated into training groups. Group one performed one day per week of strength training with three sets to failure, with rep ranges moving from three to ten reps per set.

Group two performed workouts three days per week with one set to failure per day, while working in the same rep ranges. Volume was kept the exact same, yet group two had greater increases in both lean body mass and improved one-rep max strength. With total volume held constant, spreading the training frequency to three doses per week produced superior results in both strength and muscular hypertrophy.

high frequency training

In a 1997 study titled Isometric torso rotation strength: effect of training frequency on its development 33 men and 25 women were tested for rotational strength before and after 12 weeks of training. Groups were split into training groups that exercises one, two, or three times per week.

Although there were not major differences between groups training two or three times per week, strength was significantly increased compared to the one time per week training group. Once again, a higher frequency than one time per week was shown to improve strength gains.

In a 2010 study titled Anabolic processes in human skeletal muscle: restoring the identities of growth Hormone and Testosterone it was found that repeated phases of net protein balance, which can be generated in response to repeated bouts of resistance exercise and protein ingestion, underpins muscle hypertrophy.

This shows that frequent exposure to training increases protein synthesis at the cellular level, leading to greater amounts of muscle growth.

High Frequency Training for Hypertrophy and Strength

Full body workouts are the premier and logical choice for beginners. The more muscle you stimulate frequently the more muscle and strength you’ll build, with three or four workouts per week being plenty.

high frequency training
PhotoCredit:elitefts.net

To set up your own full-body workout start with a dynamic warm-up to activate muscles, lubricate joints, and prepare the body for activity.

Before hitting the weights start with some box jumps or medicine ball slams to fire up the central nervous system to lift more weight. Two or three sets of three to five reps should be plenty.

Pick an upper body push, an upper body pull and a compound lower body exercise.

This includes squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, push-ups, chin-ups, rows, cleans, overhead presses, and glute bridges.

Stick with four or five sets of two to eight reps with one or two minutes of rest between sets. Multi-joint exercises should be practiced with a high training frequency and technically mastered for both safety and results.

Plan ten minutes (yes, only ten) at the end of your workout of free time to do things you want to do, whether it’s abs, biceps curls, or somersaults across the floor.

Have fun and enjoy yourself. I highly recommend a qualified coach to get you off on the right foot.

Upper/ Lower Splits

If you’ve been training for a solid year while making significant strength gains you can get more creative.

I recommend intermediates move to an upper-lower split, with halves of the body being hit at least 48 hours apart. Pick two presses and two or three pulling exercises performed in alternative sets on upper body days. Always train strength first and add weight to the bar, but feel free to add in some higher rep work to build those “pretty bumps.

According to The Mechanisms of Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training.” Chasing the pump is alright, as the accumulation of metabolites from exercise requires the use of anaerobic glycolysis resulting in the buildup of lactate, hydrogen ions, and other metabolites.

high frequency training

This metabolic stress leads to greater muscle fiber damage, furthering the need for tissue repair and nutrient shuttling to the source of damage.

Lower body workouts should be at least 48 hours apart as well, with 72 being ideal for maximum recovery.

Just like the upper body workouts train strength first and add weight to the bar, but feel free to add in some higher rep work to stimulate the metabolic environment to promote further muscle growth.

Here’s a sample lower body day: 1×10/each

  • Walking knee hug
  • Cradle walk
  • Straight leg march
  • Dynamic quad stretch
  • Forward lunge
  • Reverse lunge w/reach
  • Spiderman’s
  • Sub-Scap Push-Ups
  • Body Weight Squats
  • Box Jump 3×3

Weight Room:

1.Front Squat 5×5

2a.Romanian Deadlift 4×8

2b. Side plank 4×30 seconds

3a. Bulgarian Split Squat 3×12-15

3b. Hanging leg raises 3×10-15

4. Free time/ intervals/ Pretty bumps

*Note: If you’re a competitive athlete this isn’t a program for you. You’ll need more specialization and movement included early in the session. Many athletes succeed with total body programs because they place a premium on recovery. 

 Routines that train movements or muscles only one time per week are not optimal for high-performance strength development, especially for beginners. I recommend training each movement pattern at least twice per week for the best gains in strength, muscle, and performance.

High Frequency Training for Athletes and Skill Mastery

 “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” –Vince Lombardi

For learning a new movement or athletic skill the more frequently you practice the quicker it’s learned, eventually leading to unconscious competence—being able to perform a skill correctly without conscious thought.

Training skills to the point muscle memory is imperative for athlete success and transfer from the weight room. Practicing solid body position and movements like triple-extension to perfection will reinforce movement in the field of play.

athletes, sports performance, high frequency training

 

These same principles apply to anyone learning a new skill or movement. The more frequently you practice perfect technique the faster the learning process and subsequent gains.

Movement skill development must be grooved correctly until it becomes automatic and follows the following continuum: (Landow, 2013)
Unconscious Incompetence: Athlete looks clueless, unable to comprehend what is needed.

Conscious Incompetence: Athlete understands what’s needed, unable to produce it.

Conscious Incompetence:  Athlete can reproduce with much needed concentration, but not in series.

Unconscious Competence: Automatic near perfection execution without thought.

Training for athletic gains is a process that can’t be served due justice in this post, but matching movement patterns to movements required in sport is a key step. (No, this doesn’t mean throwing 12lb baseballs.) For more in-depth sports performance specialization read this & this.

It’s a Wrap ( In Dr. Dre Voice)

The process of perfecting a skill, whether it’s shooting free throws or lifting technique, takes much practice. Total body and upper-lower training splits provide higher frequency training to maximize strength and muscle-building gains with compound lifts.  

Put the leg extensions and seven variations of biceps curls on the back-burner and get back to what’s essential: high-frequency training with big movements, your strength building solution. 

Get Your 12 Week HFT Mass Program Today

Resources:

McLester, J., Bishop, E., & Guilliams, M. (2000). Comparison of 1 day and 3 days per week of equal-volume resistance training in experienced subjects. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 14(3). Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Abstract/2000/08000/Comparison_of_1_Day_and_3_Days_Per_Week_of.6.aspx

DeMichele, P. L., Pollock, M. L., Graves, J. E., Foster, D. N., Carpenter, D., Garzarella, L., Brechue, W., & Fulton, M. (1997). Isometric torso rotation strength: effect of training frequency on its development. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 78(1), 64-69. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9014960

Landow, L. (2013, August). In Loren Landow (Chair). Train to win. Steadman Hawkins Sports Performance Train to win performance mentorship, Denver, Colorado.

Phillips, S., & West, D. (2010). Anabolic processes in human skeletal muscle: restoring the identities of growth hormone and testosterone. Physican and Sportsmedicine, 38(3), 97-104. doi: 10.3810/psm.2010.10.1814

Schoenfeld, Brad. “The Mechanisms of Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24.10 (2010): 2857. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

photo credit: planetc1 via photopin cc

photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

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