If you’ve been regularly going to the gym, you must have some sort of plan, right?
Whether it's get ripped for Summer or get huge over Winter, chances are you're following some training program designed to get you the most out of the time spent at the gym.
If you’re fairly new to fitness, it might not occur to you just how much science (we ain't talking bro science!) goes into stuff, fitness training programs included. As with everything in science, it’s constantly evolving. The more stuff we discover, the better the science gets and that includes what we now know of high frequency training. With me so far? OK let's continue...
Most training programs for bodybuilders utilized a traditional training split, which basically means they did low frequency but high volume training – that’s training different muscles groups once per week, doing a lot of reps and sets each session.
But we now know muscle building isn’t simply doing more sets to make greater gains. High frequency training is actually working out the same muscle groups multiple times throughout the week, and at fewer sets per session at that.
The key factor here is muscle protein synthesis or MPS. That’s when our cells lay down new muscle fiber and this happens in each and every training session. Note though that a recent study found that in untrained subjects, MPS during the early stages of the training program was used to repair damaged muscle protein. After muscle damage is diminished (at about 2 to 3 weeks), MPS is then used to hypertrophy muscles or increase muscle tissue.
But why workout the same muscle groups more in a week with fewer sets each session? That’s because our MPS levels increase to the same point after working out whether you’re doing lower volume exercises at 8 sets, or higher volume exercises at 15 or more sets, and these MPS levels stay elevated anywhere from 12 hours to 3 days depending on where you are on your fitness level.
Following a high frequency training plan means you’re taking full advantage of your MPS levels and letting those cells lay down new muscle fibers more consistently, without overworking your muscles unnecessarily by increasing your sets. Remember, your MPS levels tend to stay the same whether you’re doing 8 sets, or 15 or more sets per training session. Based on research, the optimum number of sets would be around 5 to 10 per muscle group. Anything beyond that and you may just be wasting your time and energy (and fatiguing those muscles). Doing more sets may also lead to more muscle damage, which can cause muscle loss – and we don’t want that!
Having fewer sets to do also mean you’re able to keep your energy levels high and perform them with more intensity.
Keep in mind though that in bodybuilding, you do need to allow your muscles to recover more after rigorously training them. So while you may want to maximize your gains and train as often as possible, it would be counterproductive – and unhealthy – if doing so causes under-recovery. When this happens, you’ll experience prolonged muscle soreness, achy joints, excessive fatigue, negative moods, and even a weakened immune system. Start with training the same muscle groups at least twice a week and go from there.
Remember to use gym gear to stay injury-free and accessories like our Grenadier Grips will allow you more gains faster!