“Muscle training frequency” is the frequency at which you directly train a specific muscle group per week, and this largely dictates the type of workout routine an individual follows.

The new, most popular training frequency is once per week.

This frequency leads to a structure called a body-part split routine (also known as the bro-split).

This routine has people give specific days of the week to focus directly on training just 1-2 muscle groups for that day.

As an example

  • chest on Monday
  • back on Tuesday
  • shoulders and arms on Wednesday
  • legs on Thursday
  • and so on.

The Body Part Split

A recent survey of 127 competitive bodybuilders found that every respondent trained with a split routine. The theory behind such routines is that growth is maximised by forcing a muscle to reach failure by using high training volumes, using multiple exercises from multiple angles, and then giving that specific muscle an entire week to recover.

body part split

The issue is that body-part splits are not ideal for almost everyone that focuses on strength and hypertrophy, and completely illogical for every beginner.

Despite their popularity, the scientific evidence overwhelmingly opposes their good use. A recent meta-analysis showed training a muscle twice a week promoted significantly superior hypertrophic outcomes to once a week, even when weekly volume was the same [4]. To add to this, a study by the American College of Sports Medicine agreed with this result, stating “the recommendation for training frequency is 2-3x week for novice and intermediate training” [6].

The improved rate at which you will progress when training frequency is increased from 1-2x per week to 3x per week was found in a crossover study to be 28.1%, when 24 men were tested on different training programs over a 12 week period [7]. However, the extent of which an increased training frequency will help you is individual based on a variety of factors, mainly regarding genetic variation and personal recovery rates.

Using this 3 day a week training model, it is essential to perform full body workouts on each training day.

Full Body Workouts

As mentioned in the “Workout Frequency” section, it is shown that muscle protein synthesis is elevated for approximately 48 hours post resistance training [1][2]. Based on this, stimulation of a given muscle every 48 hours maximally increases muscle protein accretion and thus have a positive effect on muscle size [8]. Unlike low training frequencies, you do not waste time in giving the muscle unnecessary, extended periods of rest when in reality it is ready for re-stimulation.

training volume

Full body workouts allow adequate tension to be placed on every muscle each time you step in the gym.

Taking a step back and just using common sense can make the logic even clearer. If you had to gain x amount of muscle on your chest, or x amount of strength on your bench press by next year or something bad will happen,

would you perform the bench press just once per week?

Would you train your chest just once per week?

Course not!

Many studies are available showing that strength improves at a faster rate with higher training frequencies.

This is due to enhanced neurological adaptation and motor pattern recruitment to the exercises being performed, as well as morphological factors such as growth of type II fibres, increased angle of fibre pennation and connective tissue structure [9]. The increased strength gain will also cause additional muscle growth, as they are directly proportional, with higher training loads causing an increase in cross-sectional area of the whole muscle and individual muscle fibres [10].

Summary – Use full body workouts.

To View all of Our Beginners Strength Training Articles See Below:

  • 1) MacDougall JD, Gibala MJ, Tarnopolsky MA, MacDonald JR, Interisano SA, Yarasheski KE. 1995. The time course for elevated muscle protein synthesis following heavy resistance exercise. Can J Appl Physiol. 20(4):480-6.
  • 2) Aragon AA, Schoenfeld BJ. 2013. Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
  • 4) Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. 2016. Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 46(11):1689-1697.
  • 6) Kraemer WJ, Adams K, Cafarelli E, Dudley GA, Dooly C, Feigenbaum MS, Fleck SJ, Franklin B, Fry AC, Hoffman JR, Newton RU, Potteiger J, Stone MH, Ratamess NA, Triplett-McBride T. 2002. American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand.
  • Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc.
  • 7) Graves JE, Pollock ML, Leggett SH, Braith RW, Carpenter DM, Bishop LE. 1988. Effect of reduced training frequency on muscular strength. Int J Sports Med. 9(5):316-9.
  • 8) Mawer R. 2017. Research Review: Full Body Training Superior To Training Individual Muscles – Death Of The Bro Split?. Available from: http://rudymawer.com/blog/research-review-full-body-training/
  • 9) Folland JP, Williams AG. 2007. The adaptations to strength training : morphological and neurological contributions to increased strength. Sports Med. 37(2):145-68
  • 10) Trappe S, Williamson D, Godard M, Porter D, Rowden G, Costill D. 2000. Effect of resistance training on single muscle fiber contractile function in older men. J Appl Physiol. 89: 143–152,