Frequency & Splits to Build Muscle | Science-based Natural Bodybuilding | Basics of Training (Ep.4)

Yo what’s up?! Dr. Swole here. MD body
builder – here with our fourth video of the series Basics of Training. In this video
I’ll be talking all about training frequency: how often should you hit a
muscle group? So at this point the literature is pretty limited but what we
do know is that there is evidence to say that training twice per week is better
than training once per week for a muscle group. Now how do we explain this? In my
interpretation, I think one reason to explain this phenomenon is that when you
split up training over multiple sessions it reduces the amount of volume per
workout and increases the likelihood that you’ll be productive during that
workout. In my last video on volume, I mentioned that we should shoot for about
10 to 20 sets per muscle group per week Now let’s say you’re shooting for that
20 sets per week mark. If you were to do that all in one workout, say a bro style
all-out workout, 20 sets. 20 sets is a lot to do in one day. That would be like
doing five exercises with four sets each and most likely by the end of those sets
the last few sets aren’t going to be very productive: you’ll be dropping the
amount of weight you’ll be using, probably doing fewer reps that you would be able
to do if you were well rested. Now, this ties back into the other concept we
talked about in my volume video and that is MRV, your maximum recoverable volume. Now, it’s been suggested by experts in the field that there is likely not only
a per week maximum recoverable volume which is the maximum amount of volume
that you can do in one week and still recover from, but there’s also a per
session MRV and what that means is that there’s
a maximum number of sets that you can probably do in a workout before becoming fatigued and having the subsequent sets not being productive. Also recall that we
are shooting for maximizing the amount of volume we can do and volume, as we
mentioned in the last video, is sets times reps times amount of weight lifted.
So if say you’re doing 20 sets of back in one workout and for the last five to
six sets the weight that you can pull is dropping a lot
you’re actually reducing volume. If you split those 20 sets up into two sessions
of ten sets each you’re more likely to be able to maximize the number of reps
and the amount of weight you can do for those exercises over that same week and
thus accumulate more volume, and likely better gains. Well at this point you
might be saying, “Bill why don’t I just train every muscle group every day of
the week seven times per week frequency?” Now if you recall what I said carefully
we said that two times per week frequency has been shown to be better
than one time per week frequency but we don’t really know anything about what
happens beyond two sets per week in terms of practicality. I would make the
recommendation that for larger muscle groups you usually would want to shoot
for about two to three times per week frequency since training these movements generates a lot of systemic fatigue That is, it tires out of your whole
body and it’s difficult to recover from those taxing workouts, such as workouts
including squats, deadlifts, benchpress. It is generally recommended at this point
that smaller muscle groups can likely tolerate higher frequencies per week.
That means biceps, triceps, delts, and calves may benefit from training higher
frequencies, such as three or four times per week. I’ll mention that once you go
beyond two times per week since we’re not really sure based on the evidence we
have so far. I think you need to try out higher frequencies to see if they work
better for you. Looking back at our staircase of training priorities,
recall that progressive overload and volume both ranked higher in importance
than training frequency. What that means is you should be manipulating your
training frequency to optimize your ability to progressively overload over
your multi set 6-12 rep max and in order to allow you to maximize the
amount of training volume that you can accumulate. So now that we’re talking
about frequency it also makes sense to delve a little bit into splits. A
training split is the way you split up your muscle groups and slot them into
workouts throughout the week. I’ll say up front that our science-based recommendation
of twice per week frequency at the minimum has a pretty
significant implication in that it immediately is a strike against the classic bro split.
The bro split is the traditional method of bodybuilding training where athletes
would train one major muscle group per day: chest day, back day, arms day. Note that in the bro split you’re only training each
muscle once per week, which we now think is likely not optimal. What that means is
when you hear people talk about doing their bro split in the gym: “yo its arms
day today” in your mind you’ll be like “that’s cute but you’re probably not
science-based!” Now if we’re going to adhere to this twice per week training
frequency that puts a few constraints on the types of splits that we’re able to
implement. First of all, going into a twice per week training regimen, I would
immediately suggest that you should be doing full-body. Why? Because that’s the
only way that you can train every muscle group twice per week. If you’re training
three times per week you have a little bit more freedom and here you might be
able to split up your body into two different workouts, say upper/lower and
then have a full body workout so upper/lower/full body. This way you
can still train each muscle group twice per week. Of course, you can still do a
full body three times per week. If you’re training four times per week you have a
little bit more flexibility. So one way to do it would be to go upper/lower
which is actually my favorite training split and the one I’m currently running.
Or you can do some sort of custom split What I mean by that is you might have
some sort of unique way of splitting up your muscle groups depending on your own personal needs. One example of this might be to do chest, back, quads, and calves in
one day and the rest of your muscle groups the other day. Still works. Still
is twice per week training frequency. And then of course full body. if you’re
training five times per week you have lots of flexibility so most likely be
going for some sort of custom split usually a custom split will be
implemented to allow you to accommodate for certain injuries. And of course, full
body you may also usually custom split to add
volume for a specific lagging muscle group, for example, having an extra day
for chest if you have a weak chest. If you’re training six times a week
you have the option of doing a classic push-pull leg split which I think works
really well and you’ll still be training everything
twice per week. Of course, again, you can do custom: choose-your-own-adventure,
and then lastly, full body. Again, just to make it clear, when we say that we’re
increasing our frequency of training note that we are not necessarily
increasing the amount of volume. When a lot of people hear, “oh you can go from
one time per week to three times per week training and likely improve your
gains” they might say, “oh I’ll take my 10 sets per week training program and do
that three times per week.” The problem is now you’re suddenly tripling your volume
and going to 30 sets per week, which for most people will be above their maximum
recoverable volume and thus they will not be able to recover. the other thing
is that with high frequency training you’ll need to decrease the relative
intensity at which you train. Telative intensity is basically how close you
take a set to failure: keeping three reps left in the tank at the end of a set is
a lower relative intensity than going all the way to failure. Now when you train very close to or at failure you generate significantly more
fatigue which means you need more time in between workouts to train the same
muscle again and still recover. So just keep in mind that when you’re increasing
your training frequency you will need to decrease the amount of volume per
session and you might need to decrease your relative intensity. Now what kind of
training intensity should I be training at then? And that is the topic of our
next video! That’s all for now guys, thanks for watching! Make sure you
subscribe, like the video, leave me a comment, and let me know what kind of
topics you want to see covered on Ask Dr. Swole. See you next time!

8 thoughts on “Frequency & Splits to Build Muscle | Science-based Natural Bodybuilding | Basics of Training (Ep.4)

  1. Very informative video!! I am currently on a 4x/week upper/lower split, but soon I might have to drop to 3x/week because of work, family, etc.
    Would it be fine if I do deadlifts on my lower and squats on my full body day? Because it is important to me to have the big 3 lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) in my workouts.
    I would be hitting bench press 2x/week like this… Is deadlift/squat 1x/week enough if trained intensely?

  2. Would you consider Upper/Lower(4× a week) is more beneficial than fullbody (3x a week) for someone who has been lifting seriously for 2 years?

  3. Hey man it's me again. In regards to Two times full body per week. Do I progress on both of the days for overload each day or pick one day and second day light weights

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