High Frequency Training for Hypertrophy
Arnold Was a big believer in high frequency workouts, he would work every muscle group two to three times a week, and sometimes would train a lagging muscle every day.
High frequency training is very effective workout technique for hypertrophy, but it has to be done the right way or you will just end up overtraining.
Unfortunately, just increasing your frequency from 3 days a week to 6 days per week only works for the genetically chosen few. Men like Schwarzenegger, Columbu, and Haney etc. Most of the high-frequency plans we see in muscle mags that would leave the average guy befuddled, burned out, and bemused.
Here's why the average Joe won't be able to train like Arnold used to:
1) Excessive initial systems shock
Our skeletal muscle systems are incredibly malleable; the problem is we don't respond well to high bursts of volume and intensity at the same time. Only crippling levels of muscle soreness and complete fatigue follow when the average Joe does that type of training. The bottom line is that you simply have to slowly build-up your capacity so that your body is able to adjust to the increased frequency in your training.
2) Immutable Parameters
As far as sports science is concerned, there's little wonder that the average Joe over-trains, considering the built-in lack of variance when following these training programs that were used by pro bodybuilders. Sports science has now proven that when you vary the level of both your intensity and your volume your central nervous system (CNS) and your skeletal muscle systems improve their response to weight training.
If we consider how our bodies have evolved through the millennia where we would be sprinting from a predator on one day, chop a tree down on the second day, and walk or climb on the third day. One could argue our bodies are simply not designed to chop a tree down every day, week in and week out. The human body likes constant change. The bottom line is that you need to vary all your training parameters on a constant basis to avoid burnout.
3) Excessive Training Intensity
Your CNS is simply not capable of dealing with a mind-blowing intensity type of training for any length of time; our nervous systems are just not capable of withstanding that kind of stress continuously. Research now clearly demonstrates that our systems generally are a lot more efficient at recovering from a wide range of different training intensities, not just HIIT. The bottom line is you need to limit the amount of HIIT work done in each micro-cycle so that you avoid training to the point of failure on a continuous basis.
4) Lack of Recovery Modalities
Old-school bodybuilders did not have the luxury of scientifically formulated nutrition and therapeutic needs that we have today. Today the average Joe can incorporate anything from active recovery sessions, stretching, salt baths, ice massage and electro stimulation, etc. If you add that to the creatine and our improved nutritional awareness generally, one would think we would be a lot better off than other old-school weight trainer/bodybuilders were when it comes to muscle recovery.
The 4 points listed above show why the average Joe doesn't get predictable results by using traditional high frequency programs claimed by the publishers to be written by professional bodybuilders. When we look at the lats on any Olympic gymnast, or the quads on a speed skater, or the calves on a soccer player, the upper-back seen on lumberjacks or the forearms found on an average mechanic, we know that the key to accelerating hypertrophy is high frequency.
Let's quickly take a look at why the various different professions listed above have given them these physical attributes from doing what they do best. Each profession listed, from the lumber-jack to the soccer player have built up their own individual capacity to a point where they can handle any high-frequency training by slowly training through their DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). They never reach the point of failure, or very seldom and the movement pattern is constantly changing.
It's that last part that's important. Variety is the key to achieving hypertrophy success on a sustainable basis. When you're doing 12 sets of bench-press a week working in a pseudo-fixed type of movement pattern, you'll only get overuse injuries, not good for any hypertrophy. High frequency training works when it's done by using many different types of contraction patterns, different motor-unit recruitment levels, and different specific muscle recruitment.
To reach new levels in hypertrophy will require an increase in training frequency done weekly, without limiting exercise selection in any way, because when you simply limit exercise selection to a few movements that'll match-up to your line of muscle-pull, you'll just get more overuse injuries and overtraining of the isolated muscle group. Variety is your hypertrophy spice!
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