Greater strength gains were made with higher frequency training. Muscle mass responses equally between training a muscle group 2 or 3 times a week when the volume is similar.
DOES HIGH TRAINING FREQUENCY RESULT IN BETTER MUSCLE GROWTH? TRAIN EACH BODY PART TWICE OR THREE TIMES A WEEK? SUMMARY
- · Greater strength gains were made with a higher training frequency
- · Muscle mass responses equally between training a muscle group 2 or 3 times a week when the volume is similar.
IS WORKING OUT 3 TIMES A WEEK BETTER FOR GAINING MUSCLE
Greater increases in weekly training volume (sets x reps x weight) correlate with increased muscle growth. You can increase workout volume by boosting workout frequency. We describe frequency as the number of training sessions per week. Some studies show that training each muscle 2-3 times per week with full-body training leads to more significant muscle mass increases than training with split routines (i.e., once per week). This is due to the higher training frequency for each muscle group every week. (1, 2)
Previous research didn’t always equate the volume (i.e., sets x reps) between the groups, which is a limitation. In one study, researchers compared a split routine (2 sessions per week) to a full-body routine (3 sessions per week) with similar total volumes. By the study’s end, both groups showed similar increases in muscle mass and strength. (3)
HIGH TRAINING FREQUENCY WITH EQUAL VOLUME STUDY
To date, there has not been a study to replicate the findings of using various training frequencies but having similar total training volume and its effect on muscle growth and strength. Researchers had subjects trained in 2 sessions, where every muscle group was trained twice per week with 9 sets/per session. The other group trained in 3 sessions; every muscle group was trained 3 times per week with 6 sets/per session.
All other training variables (e.g., exercise performed, exercise order, range of repetitions, rest interval between sets and exercises, etc.) were similar between the groups for 11 weeks. All the sets were taken to complete muscular failure. Researchers measured body composition and strength before and after the 11 weeks of training. All the subjects consumed adequate protein, with at least 1.1 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU WORKOUT TO BUILD MUSCLE?
At the end of the study, the total training volume was similar for all the groups. Both groups trained with 18 sets per week for each bodypart. There was no difference in changes in muscle mass between the groups when the volume was equated. Based on the current results and similar results for both increases in muscle mass, volume is more important than the frequency for promoting muscle growth.
The group training each muscle thrice a week made better strength gains in the bench press and squat. Increasing training frequency may be a viable approach to increasing muscle strength in well-trained athletes. Although total muscle mass was not different between the groups, some individual muscle groups responded better to the higher training frequency. For example, the percent change in muscle growth was better for the anterior quadriceps, triceps, and biceps; all favored the higher training frequency group. However, other muscle groups, such as the quadriceps, favored lower training frequency(4) See the chart below.