This is Tracey from Scott Fitness with
calf raise technique. I've spent a little time looking over
ExRx.net and from what I've seen it is very well written and
has a good balance--good work. I'm curious what you think
of my habit of only training each muscle group once every two
weeks or so?
Tracey Cheuvront, 'Bastionhead'
The optimal training frequency is dependent upon total training
volum, intensity, and your ability to recover between workouts.
I have known those that have reported doing well with training
each muscle group once per week while performing a high volume
program with multiple exercises and sets for each muscle group.
Many studies do, however suggest greater strength gains when
weight training 2 to 3 times per week (Berger 1962, Hoffman et.
al. 1990, Faigenbaum & Pallock 1997, Rhea
et. al. 2003). The difference in optimal training frequency
between novice (3x/wk) and experienced participants (2x/wk) is
thought to be due to the higher training volumes being used in
the studies using trained subjects. Interestingly, Fleck
& Kreamer (2004) suggest a periodized
weight training program may allow for more frequent training
sessions and the use of a higher total training volume compared
to a non-varied training program.
Weight training components (intensity, duration,
frequency) are somewhat inversely proportionate to one another
(I*D*F). This model suggests that if one component is decreased,
increasing one or both of the other components may make up for
this loss. For example, by training each muscle group every 4
days instead of every 3 days (decreased frequency), the number
of exercises or sets may be increased (increased duration), or
the amount of weight may be increased (increased intensity).
Intensity is the least forgiving of the three components, if
intensity is decreased for a
time, strength and muscle mass gains will likely deteriorate.
Increasing frequency or duration cannot make up for a decrease
of intensity. When frequency decreases to a point, detraining
begins to occur and less progress can be made. However, losses
of muscular endurance occur well before strength losses are experienced.
Interestingly, strength and muscular development may actually
increase after periods of overtraining
when short layoffs, such as one to two weeks, are implemented.
This does not mean, however, that more progress cannot be achieved
with greater frequency of lower
volume training, so the likelihood of overtraining is less
likely, hence short lay offs would have a less positive effect.
As you have pointed out in a previous conversation, I too
am unaware of any studies that have examined the efficacy of
training frequencies less than once per week. I would have thought,
before you reported your experience, that these sorts of studies
would fall into the category of detraining.
James Griffing, ExRx.net
Thanks for such a thorough response!
frequency/intensity/duration of training, I am in agreement with
your description of the inter-relationship of these factors.
However, my experience with high intensity weight training has
made me keenly aware of the large amount of rest necessary between
workouts for optimum progress--which for me means being able
to increase either the reps at a given weight, the weight at
a given number of reps, or both weight and reps, on a workout-to-workout
basis. Whereas most well-accepted recommendations advise anywhere
between 2 and 7 days between same-muscle training sessions, I
have gotten best results from taking 10-20 days--and have even
gained strength in the SLDL taking 40 (FORTY!) days between workouts.
And I use a fairly low-volume approach, usually 4 of fewer total
work sets per muscle group. I have to laugh at the idea of doing
squats or DLs, for instance, every 5th day--often I'm still sore
from the last workout on the 4th or 5th day, which means I am
not even fully recovered--let alone physiologically over-compensated
and ready for another progressive dose of exercise stimulus.
And I routinely go 4 to 5 successive days with no resistance
training whatsoever, with no loss of strength or muscular endurance.
When I first tried this, I was worried about losing the minuscule
gains I had managed to achieve with traditional higher frequency
training. But after I got over this initial fear and gave it
a try, my strength and muscle gains were tremendous. I challenge
anyone to give it a try.
I can't count the number of times people have approached me
for training advice, but when I tell them my methods, they don't
believe me: "But all the dogma says...." So a big impetus
for the youtube channel was, in addition to meeting/motivating/being
motivated by other natural lifters, to counteract all the disinformation
going around about bodybuilding exercise, but in a forum that
is fun and inspirational more than didactic.
Tracey Cheuvront, 'Bastionhead', Lifetime Drug Free
There appears to be some support your idea of longer recovery
between workouts. At least a few high level former athletes use
varying methods to recovery from extraordinary high levels of
training volume or intensity. Dr Mauro Di Pasquale, MD, a World
Champion Powerlifter reportedly trained every 5 days alternating
between a minimum workout and a 4 hour workouts (every 10 days).
This is an example of polarizing the training stimulus around
a target response. It can assists recovery by decreasing the
frequency between each type of workout, thereby avoiding overtaxing
the metabolic pathway in the same way every workout. This can
take the form of alternating between a high intense / low volume
and low intense / high volume workout or alternating between
heavy and light workouts. Also see Training
Apart from this variation technique, it is not uncommon for
advanced bodybuilders to train each muscle group once a week
to allow recovery between their high volume workouts. From an
alternative approach, Mike Mentzer, Pro Bodybuilder, famous for
advocated HIT training recommended resting 10-12 days between
training each body part. HIT was the brain child of Author Jones,
the inventor and founder of Nautilus Weight Training Equipment.
HIT involved a single set for each exercise, training each exercise
beyond muscular failure (very high intensity, very low volume).
Also see Low
Genetics also presumably plays a role in recover time. My
former sports history professor explained to us that coaches
of Eastern Bloc countries in the Cold War days reportedly would
intentionally overtrain candidates in attempt to find the few
athletes that would actually recover and make progress under
their high volume / high frequency training protocols. I'm guessing
you would have not done so well in that situation ;-)
Apparently you take an extraordinary long time to recover.
From our previous discussions, I understand you also do a lot
of other taxing activities such as cycling to and from work,
heavy gardening, and yard work; including cutting your entire
lawn with a manual mechanical mower and tilling your huge garden
by hand. I can imagine that these feats are a workout in themselves
that require time in which to recover.
Other factors such as diet can significantly affect recover
time. For example, those on a low carbohydrate diet will typically
have low glycogen stores
which will increase time to exhaustion and likely time to optimal
recovery, particularly where anaerobic
exercise is concerned.
This essay by Dave Staplin, called Understanding Recovery: A Wound Healing Model
would seem to support your training philosophy. However some
would argue that this increased strength gains Dave and his training
partner experienced was likely due to a sort of Overreaching
and Tapering effect. I'm sure many our visitors would have
an interest in the idea of extended recovery between workouts.
Also see Alternating
Rest with Workout Days on 3 Day Split Q&A.
It's interesting that you bring up low frequency training
again, as I have some recent experience to share. For nearly
a year, my main works sets on the decline barbell press have
stagnated at 225lbs for ~13 reps and then 275lbs for a couple
sets of 6-7 reps. Over this year, I have been doing this exercise
every 12 days or so. But recently, I had a significant leap
in performance in a particular workout, getting 225lbs for 16
reps and then 275lbs for 2 sets of 8. Curiously, it had been
17 (SEVENTEEN) days since my last chest workout instead of the
usual 12. I really think those extra ~5 days of recovery are
the reason for the performance increase.
Mike Mentzer wrote a bunch of HIT articles that were published
in various bodybuilding magazines in the early and mid 1990s.
Those articles were the impetus for me to begin thinking about
unconventional approaches to training, and the low frequency
in particular. But of course Arthur Jones is the OG of HIT.
I have read everything I can get my hands on about Jones' training
philosophy, the history and development of the Nautilus machines,
even his general biography--he was a true genius, iconoclast,
and all-around fascinating character.
Tracey Cheuvront, 'Bastionhead', Lifetime Drug Free