If you are a gym participant, either a beginner or a more advanced exerciser, you have most likely encountered the question – “How many times a week do you train?” Find out in the article if a larger training fund really means more results.
What is really important in the training process?
The main concept we need to keep in mind when manipulating a training program is the volume of training.
It is the total work done in a unit of time. We will look at the volume in the text as the total number of demanding work series in one week. This applies to those series in which the failure is close enough (maximum 3-4 repetitions from the failure) to be able to cause the desired adaptations. Thus, warm-up series or extremely light work series are not counted in the weekly training volume for the purpose of hypertrophy.
For example, if we do 3 series of flat bench, 3 series of oblique bench and 4 series of stretching on a weekly basis, our chest volume is 10 series.
How to determine the frequency of training?
To thoroughly understand the correct view of frequency, that is, the number of trainings per week, we will take a brief analogy: Imagine that you are a farmer and have a large amount of land to cultivate. One day, you decide to take the tools and get the job done, along the way you decide to work all the work, that is, the whole field in the same day, at once.
It goes easy at first, you dig fast and you feel great. However, what will happen after a few hours of work? You will begin to feel signs of fatigue, decreased concentration, and lack of work ability. Your work will no longer be as effective as at the beginning of the shift!
There is an effective amount of work that we can do in a unit of time, and everything over that becomes counterproductive, the so-called Junk volume. It is work that we do that does not contribute to our goals, in this case muscle growth. Precisely because we are not able to do it well due to the fatigue acquired in previous series.
In which case do you think we will be more effective? If we do 10 sets for the chest in one workout, or if we divide that work into two workouts of 5 sets each? Of course, in the second case, why?
Precisely because the last few series in the first case would have been much worse for us due to fatigue. The volume, when divided, becomes of better quality. What will the farmer do at best? He will divide the same amount of work into several days, in order to increase his efficiency.
We can transfer this to training in general. The field that requires processing is the amount of training we need to do. Our body is limited by a certain amount of stimuli that we can withstand in a time frame, and that we can adequately recover from it and be in the process in the long run.
What do the relevant studies say?
Brad Schoenfeld and co-workers compared the two training programs. In both cases, training was done three times a week, also called 3 day workout split, but in the first group of subjects, the frequency of training was such that each muscle was worked only once a week:
- day: chest and back
- day: legs
- day: shoulders and arms
The second group did full body training, so each muscle was stimulated three times a week.
- day: whole body
- day: whole body
- day: whole body
The choice of exercises, volume, and relative intensity were identical in both groups, but the second group achieved significantly better results in increasing muscle mass than the first!
Other studies show that if we divide the same work into several training sessions, we will get superior results in increasing muscle strength, hypertrophy and neuromuscular adaptations compared to a situation where we would “cram” all the volume for one muscle group into one workout on a weekly basis!
Aim to “hit” each muscle at least twice a week, or divide the total work for a particular group into two training sessions. Most people can progress very well to 3 to 4 workouts per week (full body or upper / lower variant). If you are not an extremely advanced exerciser, this kind of split training will surely be enough for you to progress and you will also avoid overtraining.