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Effective Training Frequency for Hypertrophy


by Matt Weik

With so much information out there today, it’s difficult to weed through the BS “Bro-Science” and the legitimate research backed science. These days everyone who picks up a weight is a fitness guru in their own mind. Everything they read in magazines is taken as gospel and these goons will hang onto every word that the biggest guy in the gym says. “I just read an article that showed Phil Heath’s workout on how to get 20+ inch arms! Now I can finally look like ‘The Gift’ himself!” Cool bro, I have a needle of the highest quality oxygen for you to inject into your vein too that will make you huge. Actually, don’t attempt that last sentence, it’s a sure way to end up dead—but you get the sarcasm, right? Come on, get real people. Snap out of it. Stop listening to the opinions of individuals and start looking into the actual concrete research.

I get it, everyone trains differently and every training protocol is different. What works for Arnold might not work for Ronnie Coleman. What works for Ronnie Coleman might not work for Jay Cutler. And what protocol they all use might not work for you. Half of the battle of getting the physique of your dreams is figuring out your own body. What rep range and total working sets give you the best results. And better yet, like what this article covers, what frequency of training will yield the best results.

For a while the idea of hitting each muscle group extremely hard once a week was floating around in just about every gym across the US. Why? Because just about every bodybuilder out there was following such a routine. They explain that if you hit the muscle hard enough, you’ll need a full week to rebuild the torn muscle fibers before you can step back in the gym and hit that muscle group hard again. While that might work for them, it isn’t the case for majority of the people going to the gym these days. In fact, professional bodybuilders can get away with that style of training due to their steroid use. Heck, with their steroid use, they could actually go in and train at a very low intensity and still put on more size than most of the people in there lifting heavy—it’s just the nature of the drugs. You can’t let it crush your motivation to get in there and train like an absolute beast.

Now with all of that being said, here’s the really cool part… new research has come out that talks about the best way to put on size (muscle hypertrophy). You don’t have to worry about “bro-science” this time, this is a legit study done by BJ Schoenfeld and his team. While many people assume that you would be overtraining by hitting the same muscle group multiple times a week, Schoenfeld’s study shows the complete opposite. In terms of resistance training frequency, this study tested a group of subjects training anywhere from one to three times a week. What they have come to find is that training twice a week yielded more hypertrophy than simply training one day a week. With that said, they aren’t exactly stopping there and slapping high-fives. There’s more work to be done. The next piece of data they plan to seek out is how training two days a week per muscle group compares to training the same muscle group three times a week. In doing this future study, it will give us all a better idea of the best overall training frequency in terms of putting on muscle and training for hypertrophy.

In the meantime, don’t cut yourself short by following the workouts you read in magazines and through quotes your favorite bodybuilder says. Utilize the data found in this study and change your workouts to allow each muscle group to be hit twice a week. Combine this training routine with a clean diet and you’re on your way to some very impressive gains. Don’t miss out by using old school bro-science, buy your research confirmed ticket now for the gains train and hop aboard!

Schoenfeld, B., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. (2016). Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/27102172/
[Epub ahead of print]

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