August 15, 2020
– You can build muscle fast with high-frequency training due to increased muscle protein synthesis, more frequent spikes in anabolic hormone levels, and increased insulin sensitivity.
– 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 requires you to train with less volume per workout session is order to optimally recover.
– High-Frequency Training does require a plan. You must reduce training volume to make it work. Sign up here for your free High-Frequency Muscle Building Program
Every new article seems to contradict the last and make building muscle way too complicated.
Fact is, 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 within each workout.
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 latter: more frequent but shorter workouts reign king for building muscle fast, especially for the average, non-steroid using lifter.
The key reason being you can still train at a high overall volume, which research has shown is key to building lean muscle.
The key difference is higher frequency allows you to train each workout with less volume and less stress, potentially improving your ability to recover.
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 if you enjoy training, want to maximize progress without spending over an hour in the gym each time you train, high frequency training is the answer.
High-frequency training is a relative term, so for all intents and purposes, high-frequency training is more often than you currently train.
More specifically, high-frequency training can range from training muscle groups directly 2-7+ times per week when compared to a classic body-part training split.
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 daily 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.
Third, 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.
High-Frequency Training For Naturals
Protein synthesis is a key driver of muscle growth.
When you’re on anabolics, protein synthesis is turned on 247. This is why many competitive body-building programs have insane volume and emphasis on destroying one body part at a time. Because they have a chemical enhancement to boost recovery faster and additional protein synthesis they can recover from this intense work.
This isn’t the case if you’re a natural, drug-free lifter. Protein synthesis stays elevated for 24-36 hours post-workout in drug-free lifters post-workout.
For the drug-free lifter, this means your workouts need to be shorter, more intense. Get in the gym, trigger muscle protein synthesis, and start recovering. The more often you can trigger muscle protein synthesis while still recovering from your training, the faster you may be able to grow.
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.
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 the more frequent secretion of muscle-building hormones to help you build muscle faster.
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.
Granted your exercise technique is on point, high-frequency strength training improves exercise technique faster.
Look no further than many Olympic weight lifters who practice their competition lifts multiple times throughout the day.
Strength training at the highest level is predicated on maximum neural efficiency. Therefore, the more you can practice your key lifts, the faster you can refine the skill if your recovery is dialed in.
So, what does this mean for most lifters?
If you’re a beginner, training more often will direct build lean muscle. In more advanced lifters, high-frequency training can aid in muscle growth through increasing work capacity and increased frequency of muscle protein synthesis.
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.
What does the research say?
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 are 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.
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 Minimalist Muscle Blitz.
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) Or Cluster Training.
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.
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
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.
One day is spent working with more explosive exercises and higher overall training loads. The other day utilizes submaximal weights and higher training volumes.
You can only grow from the workouts you can recover from.
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 as common as a trustworthy politician. The majority are riddled with poor exercise selection, rep schemes, and too much total volume.
Second, most magazine-generated body part splits to take a long time. If you can’t complete 90 minute training sessions you’re going to perform an unbalanced program.
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:
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 is a piss-poor indicator of a good muscle-building workout.
As long as you keep your workouts short and focused you will see incredible results with high-frequency training. You’ll improve your 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.
Are you looking for a time-sensitive approach to fitness to build maximum muscle despite having a hectic schedule?
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
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