Optimal High Frequency Training Workout for Natural Lifters
Since the dawn of bodybuilding, weight lifters were told to completely destroy a muscle during a training session for maximal growth. Since you destroyed this muscle, you were then told to wait five to seven days before training it again.
Or you follow the current magazines and trends and notice your idols in the bodybuilding world do an insane workout; thirty sets for quads in one training session. Since their body is perfect in your eyes, you as a natural lifter begin to copy everything your idol does.
I bet once you tried this style of training you were extremely tired, irritable, and sore. Typical body part splits are not optimal for the natural weight lifter and there are many reasons for that.
The Human Body Seeks Homeostasis
The body’s number one goal is to remain into homeostasis. This is the process of staying “balanced”, and applies to every metabolic process that occurs in the human body.
Weight lifters will not build muscle or strength in homeostasis. This is the body’s way of saying, “I don’t need to do anything to change because no stress has occurred.”
A weight lifter is in one of two states, anabolism or catabolism. Anabolism is preferred because it is the process of recovering and growing while catabolism is losing muscle tissue. One factor for anabolism to occur is protein synthesis, the process of protein rushing through the bloodstream in order for your muscles to repair and grow.
People who are on steroids usually are in a constant state of elevated protein synthesis due to exogenous hormones in their body. The natural lifter has elevated protein synthesis for 24 to 48 hours after an optimal training session and then homeostasis occurs and no hypertrophy occurs. High frequency training fixes the natural lifter dilemma by allowing you to be in a constant anabolic state due to the style of training.
High frequency training is training body parts at a moderate volume multiple times a week rather than once. So overall growth of muscle tissue will occur much greater for the natural lifter when protein synthesis is constantly elevated.
High Frequency Training and Adaptation
Weight training has a much greater purpose than deliberate stress. When chronic weight lifting occurs the body craves homeostasis so muscle tissue grows in size and strength to withstand the previous challenges in the weight room. This process is generalized as adaptation. In biology adaptation is defined as “a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.”
Let’s take a simple example. In the summer your pasty white skin becomes tanner under the sunlight. Your skin is adapting to the stress of radiation by becoming darker to prevent illness such as sun burn. Without adaptation your health would dramatically decline.
If your skin did not become darker and sunburn occurred, and your skin still did not adapt and recover from the burns, skin cancer may occur. Adaptation in the weight room is just as important as in any other adaptive activity.
You notice when you first started to lift you were probably extremely sore and tired. Your body hasn’t adapted to the physical demands and no growth or strength increase will occur in this phase.
High frequency training is beneficial once again for adaptation. Since you are training a body part more frequently the muscles go through more “practice” of the movement patterns and stress. As they say. “practice makes perfect.” This occurs in the weight room for both strength and hypertrophy.
For strength using high frequency training, you adapt much more quickly to the movement pattern of a deadlift as well as the amount of weight since you attempt it more frequently. For hypertrophy, protein synthesis with high frequency training come into play but you also adapt to the muscular tension and metabolic fatigue quicker so hypertrophy can occur more rapidly.
Benefits of High Frequency Training
two of the most annoying things about training are:
- Going through a workout and it seems to take forever to complete,
- Or you get injured for an unexplained reason and it sets your goals backward.
High frequency training fixes these issues as well. Since you are training a body part much more often, there is no need to have a ton of volume in one day because you will return to train that muscle again on another day, thus shorter workouts.
High frequency training reduces injuries as well, due to the frequency of lifting your body has adapted to whatever movements you put it through. For example, the first time you ever squat may have looked sloppy and shaky, maybe some chronic gym goers even cringed at the site of your first squat. Your central nervous system has not created the neurological pathways to efficiently squat correctly.
If we go back to “practice makes perfect,” why would you squat once a week to improve for? Competitive sport athletes don’t practice movements and plays once a week, so why should you? Once the central nervous system has adapted to the demand of a correct squat, chance of injury is dramatically decreased.
Swole, Functional and Strong
One of the best benefits of high frequency training is you can truly be a hybrid athlete, swole, functional, and strong. Since high frequency training hits a broad spectrum of elements for the natural lifter such as protein synthesis, adaptation, and injury reduction you get the broad spectrum of benefits rather than overly focusing on one of these goals.
Strength athletes get stronger by attempting lifts more frequently, and due to elevated protein synthesis size also occurs – a true hybrid program.
Exercise selection is important for this style of training, so I will provide an optimal full body beginner routine for those starting out. You will be training each body part 3 times a week with the most challenging lifts.
Be sure to keep the rep ranges the exact same for at least a week and your rest period of 60-90 seconds the same for the lift for adaptation to occur. It is important to follow the program exactly for the first week and then make adjustments to rep ranges and rest periods and intensity based on how you recovered.
High Frequency Training Workout
- Squats – 2 x 6-8 reps
- Lunges – 3 x 8-12 reps
- Pull-ups – 3 x 8 reps
- Barbell rows – 3 x 6-8 reps
- Dumbbell incline press – 3 x 10 reps
- Dumbbell chest flyes – 3 x 8 reps
- Seated side lateral raises – 3 x 12 reps
- Standing barbell shoulder raises – 2 x 10 reps
- Conventional deadlift – 2 x 6-8 reps
- Hamstring curls – 3 x 10 reps
- T-bar rows – 3 x 8 reps
- Seated rows – 3 x 10 reps
- Dumbbell decline press – 3 x 8 reps
- Cable crossovers – 3 x 10 reps
- Standing side laterals- 3 x 10 reps
- Dumbbell Arnold press – 3 x 8 reps
- Standard barbell bench press – 3 x 6-8 reps
- Dumbbell incline press – 3 x 8 reps
- Squats – 2 x 6-8 reps
- Stiff legged deadlifts – 3 x 6-8 reps
- Barbell rows – 3 x 8 reps
- T-bar rows – 3 x 8 reps
- Seated side laterals – 3 x 10 reps
- Arnold press – 3 x 8 reps
NOTES: Do not change the beginner full body program above without trying it for a full week. Some people will assume since they want to train for strength they should dramatically lower the volume. Or for hypertrophy they assume they should increase the volume, as a beginner you will gain strength and size equally and should run the program as is.
Keep rest periods at a consistent 60 to 90 seconds, whatever is comfortable. If you notice on your last day of the weekly program I combine exercises from the previous days, this will help with adaptation and practicing form of the lifts, especially the squat.
Keep weight at something you can handle to prevent injury, my tip to increase weight is whey you can surpass the rep range in a set and it feels comfortable and not extremely challenging, but only up the weight by 5 pounds, adapt from that, and continue. The frequency of the body parts being trained will induce hypertrophy. If your body is comfortable with adding isolation work for your arms or calves, feel free to moderately do so if you wish.
Also you MUST have your diet in check before starting such a program.
My Story with High Frequency Training
When I first started lifting I did the Steve Reeve’s full body workout and got great results. Once I matured out of that I switched to a lower volume upper lower split (another form of frequency training, training a body part twice a week) which gave me dramatic results for the longest time until no matter what I did with exercise selection, rest period, intensity, and rep ranges the program seemed a bit too easy.
Everyone at my gym recommended I switch to a classic body part split for maximum gains. I fell into the trap of seeing photos of great bodybuilders and others in real life doing a body part split and they looked great. I figured I could get the same results, so I went for it! Worst decision I ever made!
The size of my arms, back, legs atrophied (shrunk) and I was extremely fatigued after each session along with tender joints. I was tired of shrinking and getting weaker by the day so I sat down and made a frequency training split that allows me to moderately train each body part 3 times a week.
Just like magic, anabolism (growth) occurred, strength increased, and energy levels came back. So be sure not to be persuaded by the results of others but by the progress of yourself and give high frequency training a try if body part splits isn’t working for you.