Optimal Frequency = Every 3-5

According to the research you’d do well to hit a lift every 3-5 days.

This is of course under the proviso that you hit it with the necessary stimulus to trigger and adaptive response, or at least start to build towards creating one in a long term periodised protocol.

One way of looking at programming this frequency is to work in 5 days microcycles, one option would be as follows:

  • Day 1 – Chest & Back
  • Day 2 – Legs
  • Day 3 – off
  • Day 4 -Shoulders & Back
  • Day 5 – Off
  • The cycle then repeats back to day one after this.

If that was your chosen plan You’d find Charles Poliquin quite happy, as that is one of his most recommended and it works rather well, hence why it is the first example. Repeat that cycle 4-8 times depending on your level of ability and progress you make.

The above is good if you have no restriction on the days you can train, however if you are bound by the working week then you may have an issue, as such here is an example that fits that frequency of hitting each lift every 3-5 days.

  • Monday – Anterior Chain Movements
  • Tuesday – Off
  • Wednesday Off
  • Thursday – Posterior Chain Movements
  • Friday – Off
  • Saturday – Anterior Chain Movements
  • Sunday – Off
  • Monday – Posterior Chain Movements
  • As you can see you alternate Anterior/Posterior days

The above puts your lifting frequency at ever 4-5 days, a nice spacing for you to really give each day a good hammering.

If you’re wondering what would fall in to each day, here is a brief example:

Anterior Chain – Presses, Squats, Ab Roll outs (or think pushing muscles)

Posterior Chain – Pulls, Deadlifts, Loaded Carries (or think pulling muscles)

You might even go for Upper Body, Lower Body, the options are many.

So long as you covered every movement pattern/or muscle over the two days you’d have no issues in terms of making progress, however I would advise picking exercises that would give you the most bang for you buck, such as Snatch Grip Deficit Deadlifts, Clean & press, Chins for example.

Over the years if there is one thing I’ve noticed it is this – people are way too focused on doing everything under the in a session, bodybuilder style, even if this is not the most optimal style of training for them, as a result they often end up with unbalanced training protocols that are sub standard for progress.

Speaking of which, this bring the question to “What sets & reps should be used?” – Always something asked, and as per the norm many will say “It depends” which is fair, however what people are really asking for is a starting point or at least some direction.

For this I like the ‘rule of 15-25’ meaning that your main lifts will contain 15 to 35 working reps, this has been shown to allow progress (look up PRE by Delorme & Watkins), you can use many loading schemes, it might be any of the following:

  • 1x5x50%, 1x5x75%, 3x5x100% – all % are of 5RM
  • 1x10x50%, 1x10x75%, 1x10x100% – all % are of 10RM

The options are endless,s however I;d recommend starting with one of those two for your main ‘heavy lifts’ and for accessory work (smaller muscles or isolation work), doing 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps, hitting momentary muscular failure at the end of each set – however this doesn’t mean your form goes to pot, all of your from must be as close to ‘perfect’ as possible, if its not, lower the weight and focus on using a slower cadence, say 4 seconds down, 1 second pause at bottom of lift, then 1-2 second concentric and repeat for all desired reps.

All fairly simple, perhaps even boring, however it will work, trust me.

There you go, some info/options to get you started.

Enjoy,

Ross

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