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Training variables: Frequency

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How many times per week can you work each muscle group? Does we need to increase and lower frequency according to our goals? I´ve heard this questions a lot and they both refer to training frequency, here there´s not a right or wrong answer although there are some tips you can use to get better results.

There needs to be a balance between frequency and volume and we also need to follow a good nutrition program that supports the amount of work.

Frequency refers to how many times per week we work each  muscle group, we´re going to divide it into low, medium and high frequency. If we follow a typical or the most common training split in bodybuilding which last 5 days plus one or two days of cardio or rest we have low frequency because we are hitting each muscle group once per week, if we follow a 2 days split or a 3 days split and do it 2 times per week it´s medium frequency because we are working each muscle group twice per week and if we do full-body workouts 3 days a week that´s high frequency.

So the question is what is the best frequency for each fitness goal? and the answer is it depends of some other variable specially volume and intensity and it also depends of the other 4 principles of fitness and the time we´ve been training consistently.

If we are new to working out,  high frequency by doing full-body workouts 3 days per week on none consecutive days is a great option. If we do full-body workouts 3 days a week the volume for each muscle group will be low on each workout The goal here is to develop the habit of working out and we need to do it with activities we like that gives us the best results possible, if we hate doing 3 or 4 day splits then it will be harder to get up and exercise.

If the goal is fat loss and considering that we need to be on a caloric deficit it may be hard to do high volume workouts so moderate frequency is a great option, hitting each muscle 2 times per week gives our body the stimulus needed to keep the level of strength so that we maintain as much muscle as possible. This option is great for someone who has been working out consistently and it´s already a habit. With moderate frequency we can combine rep ranges, we can do one workout with heavy weight/low reps and the second workout with higher reps/lower weight.

If our goal is gain lean muscle mass we have 2 options, the first one is low frequency with high volume and high intensity, since we are working each muscle group once a week we are giving them enough time to recover but if the volume and intensity of each workout are not right it may not be enough stimulus for our muscles to grow. The second option is moderate frequency which causes more hypertrophy and it causes more muscle growth, we may not be able to do a lot of volume but keeping the intensity high is crucial.

There´s one more option for muscle growth which I´ve seen a lot of people using which is high frequency, working each muscle 3 days a week with full-body workouts. I personally don´t like this one but you can try it and if you like it and get results keep doing it. The problem with this one is that in most cases I see people using it to try to gain muscle mass and see results faster but more it´s not always a good thingg. Recovery is crucial for muscle growth and if we are hitting each muscle 3 times a week they may not have enough time to recover.

All variables work together if we have high frequency we need to go lower in volume, with volume high we go lower in frequency, intensity also depends of the amount of volume and frequency and they all need to consider enough time to recover. But to set the right frequency the other 4 elements of fitness also play an important role. If our goal is fat loss we need to make sure that we are giving our body enough nutrients to get through daily activities and the workout while we are on a calorie deficit so that our body uses stored body fat.

If we want to gain muscle we need to give our body enough nutrients to recover, repair and grow and also enough energy to get us through the workouts.

We also need to have good quality sleep every night and rest and keep stress low. Our body recovers while we are resting and sleeping if any of this elements is not on point we won´t see great results.

Let us know in the comment sections how many times are you working each muscle group per week now and it you´ve tried different frequencies which one gives you the best results?

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Pam