4

votes

frequency and volume of resistance training

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 14, 2011 at 4:01 PM

Hi all, this post is to challenge much of the wisdom circulating out there which claims "less is more" where exercise is concerned. The claim is that periods of resistance training that follow conventional protocols are preferable where lifespan and quality of life are concerned and that the party line of many PALEOs that it should be limited to only a few times per week is mythical if not for all, then for most people.

Ivan Abadjiev, coach of the Bulgarian Olympic Weightlifting team had prescribed multiple sessions per day for his lifters limitint them to under 1 hour each, on the assumption that this time-frame optimizes testosterone secretion and strength development. I would agree-would you? In hypertrophy terms this also seems true, steroids or no, that multiple sessions are preferable when kept within these limits, if not many per day then many more per week than the three or even two or less sessions many contend is best. In terms of CNS output and activation these protocols of Abadjiev also enhance rather than inhibit. Circulation improves, brain function, respiration, muscle tonus and electrical exitation. These are surely indices of health? As to rest and recuperation, the term 'active' appears more significant in light of higher volume/intensity training than the stronglifts or similar commercialized variants: Abadjiev incorporated in the lifter's meso- and macrocycles lighter periods of reduced volume to maintain neuromuscular efficiency and prevent deconditioning while enabling recuperation. I agree this works--do you? Currently I have been doing an AM/PM daily split following a 6x6 routine on a 3-day cycle using mainly compound exercises. I would like to know if people out there believe that this routine is best for testosterone secretion(the fount of youth many would claim), longevity and functional fitness in daily life. Also, I am on a VLC diet and have never felt better. In the past I used to follow a 3-3.5 days per week training schedule doing 1 hour workouts per time and was in much worse condition(I also consumed many more low G.I carbs in regular intervals throughout the day as many bodybuilders do). I would like people to provide reasons why this routine is undesirable given the practitioner's liking for weight-training and not having a desire to avoid the gym. All feedback is appreciated.

6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on June 13, 2011
at 09:27 AM

Are you asking in a general fitness/paleo sense or in a body-building or weightlifter sense. because they are obviously two completely different things. running for 4 hours a day is the best way to train if you want to be an endurance athlete. does that mean that everyone should train like that. the 2-3 times per week is a general guide line to stay strong and active. so yes, IMO, 2-3 times fine for the average person wanting to be fit and healthy, mixed in with some HIIT and low impact exercise. you obviously have different goals, or just want to show off your knowledge of weightlifting

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 10:12 PM

try a hip belt, old-school style.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 15, 2011
at 03:30 PM

Pavel is not just a kettlebell guru. He has great insight into strength and powerlifting concepts.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 15, 2011
at 03:29 PM

I have heard of the duck-toe deadlift but have never tried it. I use a "shrug bar" or "trap bar" for deadlifts, have you tried this piece of equipment? If not, give it a try. All the benefits of the tradition bar deadlift with more emphasis on the legs.

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on May 15, 2011
at 02:09 PM

What I mean is, I would need studies to be convinced that a particular frequency and volume is more effective than another. I'm not questioning whether weight training itself makes you stronger.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:43 PM

Thanks Mark. Mainly I just like the thrill of lifting weights and have no PRs to record/tout or any desire to compete with anyone. I have downloaded Pavel's 'power to the people' amongst other books but haven't yet investigated. Another goal for the present is to be CSCS certified and I am instructing myself in a variety of techniques and variations that I had previously eschewed for one reason or another. Ever hear of the 'duck-toe deadlift'? I did some sets today and it is a vely 'chinese' exercise.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:39 PM

And advice re: self-diagnosis of hormaonal status under like conditions. Other than standing this is all the movement I do in a day and have no stressors except 'eustress'. I have been training this way for half my life(since 14) on average, mainly doing daily workouts averaging 6 per week, sometimes more, sometimes less. VLC diet for 6 months now and feeling much more calm and relaxed but sometime more fatigued.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:36 PM

Who needs studies when the strongest are those who routinely employ strength through movement at periodic intervals under heavy loads(high levels of CNS activation and muscular force exerted).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:34 PM

I'll check out the reference to abadjiev's proselyte. Do you think It is a disjunctive choice between powerlifting and olympic lifting or are they compatible? One, so far as I know, relies upon more static strength and slower rate of force development the other more explosive but they seem to entail some parrallelism(both explosive, especially the westside methods, and I've seen some oly trainers doing hypertrophy style workouts, mainly the chinese).

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:50 AM

If you really have nothing else to do, besides lift in the next few months, then it might be worth it to try the high volume. After all, don't compare yourself to most of us who have to work, get stressed out by that and then, like me, have kids to take care of. So, yes, you are definitely in a particular situation and the frequency (6days/week) MIGHT work for you. Just keep the training sessions short. Also what constitutes lifting heavy is relative.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:34 AM

Personman. So are you lifting twice a day? If that works for you, fine. It would be too much for me. As would 6 days a week. More is not necessarily better, but, then again, so people thrive on that much. Check out Doug Pendlay's website. He's a great coach and a fan of Bulgarian 6X6 for powerlifting seems a lot of repetitions. As for which you should do, Powerlifting or Olympic lifting, those are both respectable and good, so choose the one that you like the most. Of course, there is a lot of technique to Oly lifting, so for that I definitely recommend you join a team, have a coach.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:30 AM

Person Man: I do the 5-3-1. I find that that is the best for me. You can buy the book or read about it over at T-Nation, where a lot of people have benefited from it. You cycle every month. First week, you do moderately heavy sets of 5 reps each. Second week, heavier weights with 3 reps each. Third week, you do not the heaviest with sets of 5, 3 and then 1+, progressively heavier. Fourth week is a light week. Then you start the cycle over, increasing your weigh by 5 or 10 pounds. Like I said, you can read more about it on T-Nation or get the book on Amazon or buy the online version.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:15 AM

As far as exogenous hormones go, the endocrine system is so complex with so many feedback loops that trying to unnaturally increase a particular hormone is always going to have deleterious effects on endogenous production. The only way it's worthwhile is if you have a perfect diet and lifestyle at age 70-80 and your factories are still shuttered. At that point, you may as well since it will likely improve overall health. For young people it's almost always a mistake.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:13 AM

Well, if you're doing VLC, you're going to have much higher cortisol and will decrease your test levels. It's simply a more catabolic state to be in. Were this not the case, every bodybuilder would do it.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 14, 2011
at 11:44 PM

Each set is to total failure.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 14, 2011
at 11:43 PM

@Personman, Are you taking each set to total failure? Training intensity and volume are factors in how often you can effectively train. Right now I am working each body-part with 6 sets, (Monday push, Wednesday legs, Friday pull) and needs 7 days rest minimum.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 11:41 PM

powerlifting in the AM(6x6, mainly compounds), Oly in the PM, maybe 3 days per week or so and getting involved in a team or some such. What would you recommend?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Interesting, I assumed you were younger(as with a lot of the PALEOs). What is your routine now Thomas? Admittedly I AM maxing out to failure with concentrics but do not lift(rerlative to the majority of people) very heavy, although it is as much as I can manage gievn the load. ADjusting the load(decreasing volume, eg. training sessions per week) I find I can lift only slightly greater lb-age so,...I compromise by increasing as I get a thrill out of the activity and have nothing else to do for the next few months. However, I will always do at least 6 days per week. I am contemplating....

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Granted Travis. On all counts. But hypertrophy is not always the goal, I am refering to test levels and physiological changes(CNS activation, etc.). Humans are adaptive organisms. Myself(see "routines, routines") I am on a 3-day cycle where muscles groups are rested usually in 24-72 hours periods(what I refered to as conventioanl bodybuilding-style following the old split routines of Robert Kennedy, et.al, keeping rep ranges lower). I find this is the best of both worlds approach re: strength/endurance/general health. Any qualms against steroid supplementation(liver, kidney, heart, eye damage)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 07:04 PM

Perhaps Viktor. However, do they rest only 10-20 seconds between sets and go to concentric failure as well as doing it daily and twice daily? That is what the bone of contention is here: one version is inadequate re: test levels and physiological changes/enhancement.

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6 Answers

2
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 10:22 PM

Ibadjiev was a great coach BUT a lot of his athletes got injured. I have practiced under a coach who used the bulgarian method. I got hurt. Maybe it's ok for you youngsters but at 51, I have finally learned my lesson: I need to stick to 3 times per week weightlifting. More than that I will get injured and it's only counter-productive. Different people are different though.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 11:41 PM

powerlifting in the AM(6x6, mainly compounds), Oly in the PM, maybe 3 days per week or so and getting involved in a team or some such. What would you recommend?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:30 AM

Person Man: I do the 5-3-1. I find that that is the best for me. You can buy the book or read about it over at T-Nation, where a lot of people have benefited from it. You cycle every month. First week, you do moderately heavy sets of 5 reps each. Second week, heavier weights with 3 reps each. Third week, you do not the heaviest with sets of 5, 3 and then 1+, progressively heavier. Fourth week is a light week. Then you start the cycle over, increasing your weigh by 5 or 10 pounds. Like I said, you can read more about it on T-Nation or get the book on Amazon or buy the online version.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:50 AM

If you really have nothing else to do, besides lift in the next few months, then it might be worth it to try the high volume. After all, don't compare yourself to most of us who have to work, get stressed out by that and then, like me, have kids to take care of. So, yes, you are definitely in a particular situation and the frequency (6days/week) MIGHT work for you. Just keep the training sessions short. Also what constitutes lifting heavy is relative.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:34 AM

Personman. So are you lifting twice a day? If that works for you, fine. It would be too much for me. As would 6 days a week. More is not necessarily better, but, then again, so people thrive on that much. Check out Doug Pendlay's website. He's a great coach and a fan of Bulgarian 6X6 for powerlifting seems a lot of repetitions. As for which you should do, Powerlifting or Olympic lifting, those are both respectable and good, so choose the one that you like the most. Of course, there is a lot of technique to Oly lifting, so for that I definitely recommend you join a team, have a coach.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Interesting, I assumed you were younger(as with a lot of the PALEOs). What is your routine now Thomas? Admittedly I AM maxing out to failure with concentrics but do not lift(rerlative to the majority of people) very heavy, although it is as much as I can manage gievn the load. ADjusting the load(decreasing volume, eg. training sessions per week) I find I can lift only slightly greater lb-age so,...I compromise by increasing as I get a thrill out of the activity and have nothing else to do for the next few months. However, I will always do at least 6 days per week. I am contemplating....

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:34 PM

I'll check out the reference to abadjiev's proselyte. Do you think It is a disjunctive choice between powerlifting and olympic lifting or are they compatible? One, so far as I know, relies upon more static strength and slower rate of force development the other more explosive but they seem to entail some parrallelism(both explosive, especially the westside methods, and I've seen some oly trainers doing hypertrophy style workouts, mainly the chinese).

1
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25472)

on May 15, 2011
at 12:43 AM

Great question........It depends upon your hormonal status. When I assess that I then make recs.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:39 PM

And advice re: self-diagnosis of hormaonal status under like conditions. Other than standing this is all the movement I do in a day and have no stressors except 'eustress'. I have been training this way for half my life(since 14) on average, mainly doing daily workouts averaging 6 per week, sometimes more, sometimes less. VLC diet for 6 months now and feeling much more calm and relaxed but sometime more fatigued.

1
100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on May 14, 2011
at 11:46 PM

This is the kind of realm in which no amount of clever argumentation is particularly persuasive to me, because it is too easy to appeal to "common sense", authority, or biological mechanisms that may or may not have any relevance in practice, all in support of opposing positions. Show me the studies!

100fd85230060e754fc13394eee6d6f1

(18706)

on May 15, 2011
at 02:09 PM

What I mean is, I would need studies to be convinced that a particular frequency and volume is more effective than another. I'm not questioning whether weight training itself makes you stronger.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:36 PM

Who needs studies when the strongest are those who routinely employ strength through movement at periodic intervals under heavy loads(high levels of CNS activation and muscular force exerted).

1
Medium avatar

on May 14, 2011
at 06:40 PM

The tolerance of increased volume/frequency is markedly higher in those receiving exogenous anabolics in supraphysiological doses. I'd be really surprised if a successful Eastern European weight lifting team were not doing this. The difference between 800 ng/dL and 3000 ng/dL is massive.

Olympic lifting itself is also more about technique and explosive power, with hypertrophy coming as a disadvantageous side effect, since these guys are usually in weight classes. Not sure that it would necessarily carry over even if they were clean.

That being said, I agree that hitting a muscle group once a week as many do these days is less than ideal. I never really started to make progress until I started to hit groups 2-3x a week. I'd never do multiple times a day however. Additionally, although I've increased frequency, I haven't really increased volume. I can't seem to find it now, but I was reading a study recently where they had trained individuals either do X volume once a week or X volume split into 3 workouts, and the latter program was significantly more effective.

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:13 AM

Well, if you're doing VLC, you're going to have much higher cortisol and will decrease your test levels. It's simply a more catabolic state to be in. Were this not the case, every bodybuilder would do it.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 07:09 PM

Granted Travis. On all counts. But hypertrophy is not always the goal, I am refering to test levels and physiological changes(CNS activation, etc.). Humans are adaptive organisms. Myself(see "routines, routines") I am on a 3-day cycle where muscles groups are rested usually in 24-72 hours periods(what I refered to as conventioanl bodybuilding-style following the old split routines of Robert Kennedy, et.al, keeping rep ranges lower). I find this is the best of both worlds approach re: strength/endurance/general health. Any qualms against steroid supplementation(liver, kidney, heart, eye damage)

Medium avatar

(39821)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:15 AM

As far as exogenous hormones go, the endocrine system is so complex with so many feedback loops that trying to unnaturally increase a particular hormone is always going to have deleterious effects on endogenous production. The only way it's worthwhile is if you have a perfect diet and lifestyle at age 70-80 and your factories are still shuttered. At that point, you may as well since it will likely improve overall health. For young people it's almost always a mistake.

0
535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 15, 2011
at 12:18 AM

What are your goals? It sounds like you are interested in strength. If so check out the book "Beyond Bodybuilding" by Pavel Tsatsouline. His advice is priceless.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 01:43 PM

Thanks Mark. Mainly I just like the thrill of lifting weights and have no PRs to record/tout or any desire to compete with anyone. I have downloaded Pavel's 'power to the people' amongst other books but haven't yet investigated. Another goal for the present is to be CSCS certified and I am instructing myself in a variety of techniques and variations that I had previously eschewed for one reason or another. Ever hear of the 'duck-toe deadlift'? I did some sets today and it is a vely 'chinese' exercise.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 15, 2011
at 03:30 PM

Pavel is not just a kettlebell guru. He has great insight into strength and powerlifting concepts.

535633b57c4a4940d1e913e7a12ee791

(1013)

on May 15, 2011
at 03:29 PM

I have heard of the duck-toe deadlift but have never tried it. I use a "shrug bar" or "trap bar" for deadlifts, have you tried this piece of equipment? If not, give it a try. All the benefits of the tradition bar deadlift with more emphasis on the legs.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 15, 2011
at 10:12 PM

try a hip belt, old-school style.

0
B7577e193614cf8659f80be51299556b

on May 14, 2011
at 04:26 PM

Maybe you know maybe not but http://stronglifts.com/ very similar, read out :)

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 14, 2011
at 07:04 PM

Perhaps Viktor. However, do they rest only 10-20 seconds between sets and go to concentric failure as well as doing it daily and twice daily? That is what the bone of contention is here: one version is inadequate re: test levels and physiological changes/enhancement.

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