One of many greatest debates in bodybuilding previously decade has been about whether or not a better or decrease coaching frequency is healthier. Early research that in contrast coaching a muscle solely as soon as every week to twice every week appeared to counsel twice every week builds extra muscle and that’s what most trainers closely promoted. However newer research that had been higher designed have elevated our understanding of this topic. We now know that should you handle your coaching quantity correctly, you’ll be able to obtain comparable muscle good points no matter whether or not you’re employed every muscle as soon as every week, twice every week or 3 times every week. Sadly, the best lifting frequency continues to be being debated and inflicting a lot confusion.
Beneath is an instance of the sorts of questions (and confusion) about coaching frequency that I nonetheless hear frequently:
“Tom, I used to be questioning if there something improper with doing a 4-day physique half cut up the place every muscle will get labored solely as soon as every week? The explanation I’m asking is as a result of I’ve finished the higher decrease cut up with 4 exercises every week and I like coaching 4 days every week in complete, however I don’t like coaching each muscle so typically (twice every week) as a result of I don’t really feel like my muscle tissues totally get better – particularly my legs. Plus it bothers my knees.
I’d prefer to maintain coaching 4 days every week and use a 4 day cut up however I maintain listening to trainers say working every muscle solely as soon as every week is just too low a low frequency and it doesn’t appear extensively accepted. My query is, isn’t that what most bodybuilders have finished for years to construct a lot muscle? If coaching every muscle solely a as soon as every week labored so effectively for one of the best bodybuilders, wouldn’t it’s an excellent possibility if constructing muscle is my major aim?”
What’s being requested right here is in regards to the optimum coaching frequency to construct muscle, but it surely’s additionally about coaching quantity (what number of units per week). As you’ll see in a minute, these two matters of frequency and quantity are so intently associated, they must be mentioned collectively otherwise you’ll miss the massive image.
On this put up I’ll clear up as soon as and for all of the query about coaching frequency, based mostly on all the most recent analysis. I’ll additionally reply the query about working every muscle with a low frequency of only one time per week, akin to with the 4 X 4 routine (4 day cut up with 4 exercises every week).
Coaching Every Muscle Twice A Week: A Well-liked Methodology
It’s true that a variety of specialists, trainers and coaches as we speak strongly lean on the aspect of extra frequent coaching being higher for muscle progress (hypertrophy). The preferred and nonetheless accepted guideline as we speak is to work every muscle twice every week.
After all, that raises the query, “Have bodybuilders utilizing physique half splits (“bro splits”) been doing it improper in the event that they practice every muscle solely as soon as every week? Or, on the very least, are they leaving some outcomes on the desk?” If that’s the case, how will we clarify their superb physiques?
It’s plain that a few of the most profitable bodybuilders on the planet use physique half splits – 3-day splits, 4 day splits and even 5 day splits. A few of them additionally work every muscle solely as soon as every week, or at the least they lean towards the decrease frequency aspect. Working a muscle as soon as each 5 or 6 days can also be standard coaching frequency in lots of bodybuilding routines.
Many prime bodybuilders within the trenches seem to haven’t adopted probably the most extensively accepted coaching frequency recommendation, but they’re constructed to the hilt. There’s a proof for this obvious paradox, which I’ll get to in a minute.
However first, what’s the scientific rationale behind so many trainers recommending greater frequency coaching? The preliminary concept was the protein synthesis speculation.
Why Practice Every Muscle With A Larger Weekly Frequency? The Protein Synthesis Speculation
Lifting weights stimulates muscle protein synthesis. Research have proven that protein synthesis might peak at round 48 hours after a exercise. Because of this, advocates of extra frequent coaching say that the extra typically you stimulate or spike protein synthesis (giving at the least 48 hours of restoration time), the extra muscle you develop. The longer you wait after that 48 hour interval, the extra you merely de-train and delay the chance for extra progress.
In different phrases, they’re arguing that should you work a muscle as soon as every week, you get one protein synthesis spike per week. In case you work a muscle twice every week, you get two protein synthesis spikes. That’s two alternatives per week for muscle progress versus one.
This protein synthesis speculation sounds logical, and it could be one small a part of the puzzle, but it surely’s not the one piece – there are different variables, an important being weekly quantity.
Some trainers have gone so far as saying that with two protein synthesis spikes per week, you would acquire twice as a lot muscle. Nonetheless, there’s no proof for this.
A handful of excessive frequency advocates say that should you solely practice every muscle as soon as every week, by the point your subsequent exercise for a particular muscle rolls round, you haven’t solely been totally recovered for days, your muscle tissues are already beginning to atrophy. That is additionally false.
Relying on how sometimes you practice, it’s potential that coaching extra typically may enhance outcomes, however research have proven that your muscle tissues don’t begin to atrophy after even two weeks of complete layoff, not to mention only one week, the place you’re nonetheless coaching.
It’s essential to notice that protein synthesis is a brief time period marker of potential muscle progress (a proxy for muscle progress), it isn’t precise muscle progress that has been measured over time. Lengthy-term research that evaluate muscle progress utilizing completely different coaching frequency and quantity inform us much more.
The reality is, how quickly you’re prepared to coach a muscle group once more isn’t based mostly on a single issue like protein synthesis charges, and I don’t imagine there’s a single finest coaching frequency for each individual in each scenario. Some folks want extra restoration time, and dealing every muscle laborious twice every week leaves them feeling beat up.
Whereas everyone seems to be completely different and even private preferences should be thought of when selecting a program, I do imagine we are able to suggest a great vary for coaching frequency if we have a look at the most recent science in addition to actual world outcomes, whereas holding in thoughts the sensible points as effectively.
New Analysis Explains How Individuals Get The Identical Positive aspects Regardless Of Whether or not They Practice 1,X 2X, or 3X Per Week
One research by Schoenfeld and colleagues went a great distance in settling the argument, and on the similar time, explaining why so lots of the “bros” get nice good points with decrease coaching frequencies. This meta evaluation was printed within the Journal of Sports activities Science and it compiled information from all of the analysis from 25 of an important research on coaching frequency and muscle progress.
The primary discovering was that so long as the weekly quantity was matched, the coaching frequency didn’t appear to matter – twice every week, as soon as every week, or any level in between (as soon as each 4, 5 or 6 days) – in each case, muscle progress was about the identical.
This helps us perceive why so many bodybuilders have been profitable even when solely working every muscle as soon as a week. In case you practice with a decrease frequency, it may possibly nonetheless work nice, however provided that you’re doing the identical weekly quantity as you’d have should you educated with a better frequency.
Right here’s the massive take-away lesson: no matter coaching cut up and frequency you utilize, you need to maintain monitor of your complete weekly units, make sure that it reaches the benchmarks for optimum muscle acquire and ensure it doesn’t drop should you change to a decrease frequency.
Research present that as much as about 10 units per muscle per week, there’s a direct relationship between the variety of units and elevated muscle progress. As much as about 20 units per muscle per week there may be often extra muscle progress, however at a diminishing charge of return. Extra is healthier, however solely up to a degree.
Superior lifters usually require extra quantity however response is particular person and is dependent upon an individual’s skill to tolerate a workload and get better from it. Subsequently, most individuals are suggested to goal for between 10 to twenty units per muscle per week and regulate it inside that vary based mostly on outcomes.
Right here’s an instance:
Schedule A: 2 day cut up, practice 4 days every week, do 6 units per physique half on huge muscle tissues every exercise = 12 units per week
Schedule B: 4 day cut up, practice 4 days every week, do 6 units per physique half on huge muscle tissues every exercise = 6 units per week
Who good points extra muscle, lifters following schedule A or schedule B? That is simple. The group that did extra complete work per week – the 12 units per week group, which on this case was the twice every week schedule. They did double the weekly workload. Moreover, 12 units per week is within the optimum vary, whereas 6 units every week is sub-optimal. It’s not even truthful to match these schedules for the impact on progress as a result of weekly quantity was not equalized.
Satirically, that is how a few of the early comparisons of coaching frequency had been finished – they solely checked out frequency and didn’t take into account quantity. The elevated good points didn’t come from coaching every muscle twice every week, the elevated good points got here as a result of coaching extra typically led to extra complete units being finished per week.
Now check out this second instance:
Schedule A: 2 day cut up, practice 4 days every week, do 6 units per physique half on huge muscle tissues every exercise = 12 units per week
Schedule B: 4 day cut up, practice 4 days every week, do 12 units per physique half on huge muscle tissues every exercise = 12 units per week
On this case, if we have a look at what bodybuilders have seen in follow and likewise take into account the most recent analysis that equalized coaching applications for weekly quantity, we are able to predict that each of those schedules will produce comparable outcomes.
Whole Physique 3 X Per Week Coaching Vs 4-Day Break up Coaching
In 2021 an analogous research (Bartolomei) in contrast the consequences of a 4-day bodybuilding-style cut up routine to a complete physique routine on power and muscle progress. Each routines had been matched for quantity (variety of units per week).
The general discovering was that in skilled, educated male lifters, age 18 to 35, after 10 weeks, each applications had considerably elevated the topic’s muscle mass and maximal power when quantity was equated. The upper frequency group did barely higher on power, however neither cut up routines nor complete physique coaching 3X every week stood head and shoulders above the opposite and there was no distinction in hypertrophy.
In 2022, one other research (Neves) confirmed that when weekly quantity is matched, there may be little to no distinction in power or muscle measurement good points no matter whether or not you hit every muscle as soon as every week or 3 times every week.
This was some of the effectively designed research to this point for quite a lot of causes.
For instance, to measure the rise in muscle cross sectional space (measurement), the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which is extra correct than the physique composition strategies utilized in earlier research. As well as, they used solely educated topics of their experiment. Older research used untrained topics.
This research additionally used a inside topic design. Which means every participant went by way of a section the place they educated with a 3 times every week frequency and the identical participant additionally used the as soon as every week frequency. Older research used a between topic design the place one group educated every muscle three (or two) occasions per week, and one other group of various people did the identical.
As a result of people range of their response to coaching, the latter kind of research was much less correct at figuring out which protocol labored higher. These newer research with the superior design have given us a variety of confidence within the conclusion that muscle progress is comparable whatever the frequency, so long as the weekly quantity is identical.
Weekly Quantity (Units) Issues The Most For Muscle Positive aspects
There’s some proof that power good points is likely to be slightly higher with coaching a muscle greater than as soon as every week. Even when your aim is physique / hypertrophy, not most power, that is value contemplating as a result of gaining power correlates with gaining muscle.
However at this level, we now have quite a few research exhibiting that 1X, 2X or 3X per week coaching frequencies can all produce comparable outcomes if weekly quantity is identical. In a few of the older analysis the place 2X and 3X frequencies produced extra muscle, there have been flaws within the research designs, however nonetheless, the principle cause greater frequency seemed superior is as a result of coaching extra typically led to extra complete units being carried out per week.
We even have a lot of anecdotal proof and there are numerous examples of bodybuilders who bought jacked coaching every muscle solely as soon as every week (or with a considerably low frequency like hitting every muscle as soon as each 5 or 6 days).
What did these bodybuilders do in a different way to supply such nice good points whereas working every muscle solely as soon as every week? They did extra units for every muscle in every exercise. And since it’s a physique half cut up routine, it’s extra sensible to do. Once you’re solely working a pair muscle tissues per session, you’ve gotten loads of time for lots of units with out making it a marathon exercise.
Downsides Of Decrease Coaching Frequency
The way you unfold a certain quantity of coaching quantity throughout the week is a vital query to ponder. To this present day, the subject continues to be debated. Regardless of what the current analysis has revealed, a variety of coaches nonetheless insist that twice every week is one of the best follow for frequency for most individuals, so don’t be shocked should you maintain listening to that.
An higher / decrease cut up finished 4 days every week the place every muscle is labored twice every week might look very best on paper. Nonetheless, not everybody enjoys coaching their complete higher physique in a single session and doing that twice every week. Many individuals get pleasure from physique half splits way more. Lots of people additionally don’t wish to practice 5 or 6 days every week, they wish to keep on with 4 classes every week as a result of that’s practical for them.
Given the way in which the analysis reveals weekly quantity is what issues most for muscle good points, your resolution on a coaching frequency might be going to come back down to non-public desire, what you get pleasure from, what suits your time accessible and what works finest for you.
Merely understand that coaching a muscle extra typically than as soon as per week might certainly assist construct extra muscle if it helps you do extra units per week. It might additionally make it easier to unfold your coaching quantity throughout the week so that you’re not doing so many units in a single exercise.
Once you add extra units, you’ll often see extra muscle progress, at the least up to a degree the place you attain the excessive finish of the really useful quantity vary and two issues occur:
1. You begin overtraining (you’ll be able to’t get better from the quantity of labor finished in a single session)
2. Your exercises get too lengthy to be sensible.
As well as, many coaches, in addition to the researchers who did a few of the newer research, level out that doing a really excessive variety of units for one muscle in a single exercise (greater than 10 to 12) is likely to be detrimental for some folks. It might causes a variety of (micro) muscle harm and calls for a variety of restoration.
Because of this, they counsel that if you wish to do a excessive quantity of 14, 16, 18, even 20 units every week for a single physique half, go for it, however of their opinion it’s higher to unfold that enormous variety of units out throughout the week extra. For instance, do 8 or 10 units per session twice every week as a substitute of making an attempt to cram 16 or 20 units for one muscle in a single exercise. Personally, I might argue that 12 units for a big muscle in a single exercise is manageable and most superior bodybuilders can deal with much more than that with no detriment.
The Backside Line
The underside line right here is that should you do the identical variety of weekly units per muscle, and also you’re hitting optimum quantity benchmarks, then it doesn’t matter whether or not you practice every muscle as soon as, twice and even 3 times every week, the muscle good points will likely be comparable. Sure it’s okay to work every muscle solely as soon as every week.
Now we have to confess, coaching every muscle solely as soon as every week actually is a really low frequency. If I practice chest on Monday, I don’t really feel like I want to attend till the next Monday to hit it once more. I really feel like I may practice it once more on Friday. That’s why I prefer to arrange bodybuilding-style cut up routines the place I practice every muscle about as soon as each 5 days. In my case, I believe that’s a candy spot for reaching optimum quantity and optimum restoration.
However everyone seems to be completely different, particularly close to restoration. Primarily based on the newest science we now have, one of the best guideline is to decide on your individual coaching frequency that you simply want probably the most. That is excellent news as a result of there are numerous causes folks might not wish to work every muscle twice every week. Like the whole lot else in coaching and diet, you might want to customise your coaching to fit your physique – genetics, restoration skill, accidents and private desire.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to experiment with completely different coaching schedules and coaching volumes. Extra long run analysis is required to substantiate this, however proof helps the concept should you change your coaching frequency over the course of a yr as a substitute of at all times sticking to the frequency that you simply’re used to, this may produce higher good points. It doesn’t damage to coach every muscle twice every week at occasions, as soon as every week at occasions, and someplace in between at different occasions.
In sensible phrases this implies you may do a 2-day cut up for just a few months, then change to a 3-day, 4-day, and even 5-day cut up (the basic “bro cut up). It’s not improper to assume even full-body exercises (no cut up) might be put into the combo whilst a sophisticated lifter. Full physique exercises hitting every muscle 3 occasions every week usually are not only for novices.
In case you’ve heard recommendation earlier than to “combine issues up,” we now might wish to prolong that past merely altering workouts and lifting strategies, but additionally altering up your lifting frequency frequently quite than on the lookout for one “finest” method. This doesn’t imply program hopping, but it surely may imply making an attempt a brand new coaching schedule as typically as each three months or so.
This is among the causes that we provide a number of coaching program choices for our members at Burn the Fats Inside Circle. In reality, we now have over a dozen flagship coaching plans and are actually including new ones each quarter.
Our latest coaching program is a 4 day cut up with 4 exercises per week. You may see meaning every muscle is labored solely as soon as per week. We name this the 4 X 4 Muscle and Physique program.
In case you’re not a member but and also you’re keen on trying out all kinds of various cut up routines designed for optimizing muscle good points and physique transformation you’ll be able to be taught extra on the pages beneath:
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Tom Venuto, Creator of Burn the Fats, Feed the Muscle Information To Versatile Meal Planning
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About Tom Venuto
Tom Venuto is a pure bodybuilding and fats loss knowledgeable. He’s additionally a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former aggressive bodybuilder and as we speak works as a full-time health coach, author, blogger, and writer. In his spare time, he’s an avid out of doors fanatic and backpacker. His e-book, Burn The Fats, Feed The Muscle is a global bestseller, first as an book and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Physique Fats Resolution, Tom’s e-book about emotional consuming and long-term weight upkeep, was an Oprah Journal and Males’s Health Journal choose. Tom can also be the founding father of Burn The Fats Inside Circle – a health assist group with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click on right here for membership particulars
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Neves R, et al, Impact of various coaching frequencies on maximal power efficiency and muscle hypertrophy in educated people – a within-subject design, PLOS ONE, 17:10, e0276154, 2022
Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J, Krieger J. What number of occasions per week ought to a muscle be educated to maximise muscle hypertrophy? A scientific evaluation and meta-analysis of research inspecting the consequences of resistance coaching frequency. J Sports activities Sci. 2018 Dec 17:1-10.
Schoenfeld BJ, et al, Results of resistance coaching frequency on measures of muscle hypertrophy: A scientific evaluation and meta-analysis, Sports activities Medication, 46(11), 1689-1697, 2016