Muscle group training frequency

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 05, 2013 12:58 AM GMT
    Hi Folks

    What are your thoughts in relation to the frequency of training muscle groups?

    At the moment I'm doing on separate days:
    Legs and abs
    Biceps and triceps
    Chest
    Back and shoulders

    Going to the gym four times per week means each of the above only occurs every 7 days. Prior to this I was doing each group twice a week in more full-on workouts. I feel I've lost a bit of size only doing each group once per week but I have been trying not to run the risk of over training.

    What do you think is best for overall development, once per week or more often?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 05, 2013 11:38 AM GMT
    Four times a week with that system should be fine. If you've lost muscle, it might be that you're either not eating enough (or enough of the right foods) or you're not getting enough rest.

    Also, are you sure you are losing size? It may be all in your head. Have someome measure the key areas to nd out.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4433

    Jun 05, 2013 2:48 PM GMT
    I'm doing the exact same thing only splitting back and shoulders into separate days to make a five day rotational. And I usually only take one day off so a bit more than once/week on average. I'd like to get a bit more size in my shoulders and arms and back.

    Is this enough?
  • MikeW

    Posts: 6061

    Jun 05, 2013 6:14 PM GMT
    I'm a novice at all this (2.5 years now) *and* I'm now over 65 so I don't know if my contribution will be helpful. However, I do take my workout very seriously and do a lot of reading on the subject as well as experimentation in the gym.

    I'm coming to the conclusion that "over training" is a misnomer. Short of injury, there may be no such thing. What does exist, though, is "under recovering." Thus the real question is, how long does it take your muscles to recover from one workout to the next? Also how can we *know* for sure -- with a precise measurement?

    I think the variables in the first question (how long does it take to recover) are: Age, genetics, nourishment (especially protein and water intake). But the question has to be looked at from the POV of each muscle group because it may take longer for some to 'recover' than others.

    Like you I'm also doing a four-day split. However, currently I'm also adding extra *volume* to the recovery phase for all my upper body muscle groups. (My legs are in great shape by comparison.)

    The way I do this is, after I do my work out for the day (which takes about an hour), I take a short break, tank up on some protein and simple carbs. THEN I go back and do 15 to 20 minutes of moderate cardio or interval. Once my heart-rate is up and my blood is pumping, THEN I do a very fast workout with one or two sets of high-rep light weights hitting two or three of the muscle groups I did *NOT* workout that day.

    So, for example, if it was my chest / triceps day, when I jump back into the frey, I'll do fast, high-volume, low weight work on my traps, shoulders and biceps. One, maybe two sets, to near failure.

    Where I keep *very* accurate records of weight/sets/reps for my earlier heavy workout, I don't record this extra 'volume' work. It's just for the volume, for the pump and based on how I'm feeling.

    So, what I'm trying now, is *active recovery* work in between once weekly targeted and focused workout days.

    Is it working? Still a bit early for me to say for sure but it *feels* right.

    As to the second question, how can we *know* whether or not we're recovering adequately, I'll save that for later.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4433

    Jun 05, 2013 9:13 PM GMT
    I like this idea. I'll give it a try. Thanks.
  • muscsportsguy

    Posts: 133

    Jun 05, 2013 9:27 PM GMT
    My two cents:

    1. Do abs more often - you can work your abs without the risk of overtraining. Just mix up the exercises.

    2. Do more leg work. Your bigger muscles - in particular your glutes - can be worked more often than others. Just don't do a muscle group two days in a row. Recovery is also important.

    3. You can work legs into almost any workout. For example, while you're "resting" in between bench press sets, do box jumps. This is a great "power move," which will keep your heart rate up and give you extra work on one of the major muscle groups.

    4. Throw in some compound movements. For example, on days when you're doing shoulders, do a squat up to a shoulder press with a dumbbell. Again, working major muscle groups more often, and the more minor muscle groups a little less often. This will give you extra work on the big ones without forcing you into the gym more often than you want.

    Anyway, take that for what it's worth.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 05, 2013 9:58 PM GMT
    I do a 3 day split on a 2 day on gym, one day off resting cycle. I find for bulking up is pretty effective.

    Day 1 : chest and triceps.
    Day 2 : back and biceps.
    Day 3 : legs.

    So a week would be Day 1, Day 2, rest, Day 3, Day 1, rest.

    One muscle group gets hit every 3-4 days.

    Abs and calves every 2nd day. Most exercises being compound lifts to maximise gains. Sometimes some military presses thrown in on the chest day.

    Make sure you are eating plenty protien and some good quality carbs and fats. Doug Miller says most overtraining is caused by under eating.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 05, 2013 10:10 PM GMT
    muscsportsguy saidMy two cents:

    1. Do abs more often - you can work your abs without the risk of overtraining. Just mix up the exercises.

    2. Do more leg work. Your bigger muscles - in particular your glutes - can be worked more often than others. Just don't do a muscle group two days in a row. Recovery is also important.

    3. You can work legs into almost any workout. For example, while you're "resting" in between bench press sets, do box jumps. This is a great "power move," which will keep your heart rate up and give you extra work on one of the major muscle groups.

    4. Throw in some compound movements. For example, on days when you're doing shoulders, do a squat up to a shoulder press with a dumbbell. Again, working major muscle groups more often, and the more minor muscle groups a little less often. This will give you extra work on the big ones without forcing you into the gym more often than you want.

    Anyway, take that for what it's worth.


    1. If you are lying on the floor doing body weight abs, yes. If you do weighted crunches, they are no different than any other muscle you exercise using resistance. Floor crunches are an endurance exercise for most people on this website.

    2. It depends on how intensely you work them. If you can do it again in 2 days, you don't lift heavy. I can sit down in chairs every day multiple times and that's body weight. I could do 135 everyday if I wanted to. I can't do 315 everyday. Same thing as the abs except you actually use these muscles everyday to sit down and stand up, or have sex.

    3. Most people's goal is not to get a cardio workout while resistance training. If it is, keep doing your sets in between sets. If you care about gaining muscle, you need rest and central nervous system drive so you can lift a max effort during your lifts. Doing legs in between taxes the nervous system.

    4. It sounds like you do circuit training. That's fine if your goal is resistance training while getting some cardio in, but you aren't maximizing either.

    To answer the OP. If the muscle hasn't recovered (Ie not doing able to lift the same weight or more next time), you're training too much for making gains. Muscle gain happens when you lift more weight consistently. It's all about trying to lift more weight over time, for both hypertrophy and max strength training programs. There's no magic number of days--it depends on how good you are at recovery nutrition, sleep, and preventing overtraining. I personally don't find the need to train to exhaustion in most cases. That's just too much breakdown and drains energy and causes muscle breakdown beyond what is needed to make consistent gains.
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    Jun 05, 2013 10:11 PM GMT
    muscsportsguy saidMy two cents:

    2. Do more leg work. Your bigger muscles - in particular your glutes - can be worked more often than others. Just don't do a muscle group two days in a row. Recovery is also important.



    Leg days are the worst days to skip (yet we all are guilty of occasionally doing it)

    Weight Training causes a spike in your body's natural testosterone. The glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, being very large muscles cause a higher test elevation than other muscle groups usually do. This is great for muscle growth.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 05, 2013 10:18 PM GMT
    LOL....

    I read this and thought it was about Muscle Dudes training together as a group on a regular basis...

    icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif
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    Jun 05, 2013 10:21 PM GMT
    Cash saidLOL....

    I read this and thought it was about Muscle Dudes training together as a group on a regular basis...

    icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif


    Muscle dudes. Doing it as a group. More often.
  • Beeftastic

    Posts: 1747

    Jun 05, 2013 11:08 PM GMT
    Ma_ct said
    Cash saidLOL....

    I read this and thought it was about Muscle Dudes training together as a group on a regular basis...

    icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif


    Muscle dudes. Doing it as a group. More often.


    I NEED this icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 06, 2013 12:55 AM GMT
    Thanks for all the great input fellas.
  • pelotudo87

    Posts: 225

    Jun 06, 2013 3:58 AM GMT
    There are a lot of schools of thought on this:

    1) 3 x week full-body workouts: "Back in the day" bodybuilders trained this way. However, they were somewhat forced to because, from my understanding, men and women had to alternate days in the gym (LOL). I think that full-body workouts that focus on compound exercises like squats, bench pressed, etc. are good for beginners since compound movements give you the best "bang for your buck." However, as you progress, I don't think that this is optimal because the weights get to heavy to do subsequent exercises effectively...

    2) Traditional bodypart splits: traditional bodybuilder workout. A lot of people swear by this, but supposedly this is more than likely not optimal if you are natural.

    3) Power / Hypertrophy Split: 2 upper body days, 2 lower body days per week. The first set of upper / lower is focusing on heavier weights and lower reps, while the second set of days has you lower the weight but work in a rep range where hypertrophy (muscle growth) is the main adaptation that you are working to achieve.

    4) Various powerlifting splits that have you alternate between heavy and light days.

    5) And many more...

    So you see, the answer can actually be quite complex, lol.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 07, 2013 1:05 AM GMT
    pelotudo87 saidThere are a lot of schools of thought on this:

    1) 3 x week full-body workouts: "Back in the day" bodybuilders trained this way. However, they were somewhat forced to because, from my understanding, men and women had to alternate days in the gym (LOL). I think that full-body workouts that focus on compound exercises like squats, bench pressed, etc. are good for beginners since compound movements give you the best "bang for your buck." However, as you progress, I don't think that this is optimal because the weights get to heavy to do subsequent exercises effectively...

    2) Traditional bodypart splits: traditional bodybuilder workout. A lot of people swear by this, but supposedly this is more than likely not optimal if you are natural.

    3) Power / Hypertrophy Split: 2 upper body days, 2 lower body days per week. The first set of upper / lower is focusing on heavier weights and lower reps, while the second set of days has you lower the weight but work in a rep range where hypertrophy (muscle growth) is the main adaptation that you are working to achieve.

    4) Various powerlifting splits that have you alternate between heavy and light days.

    5) And many more...

    So you see, the answer can actually be quite complex, lol.


    I think I do something in between 3 and 4, but because I'm so type A I can just get it all done in 1-2 days where I just work total body. I'll often just skip the hypertrophy thing because I do cardio in the form of swimming or stations on a nearby playground I set up, which is effectively hypertrophy due to the lower weight and higher reps...swimming not considered hypertrophy though icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 07, 2013 1:11 AM GMT
    It all depends on the person. Some guys train each muscle group 3x a week others once every 10 days, It's all about your goals and how you recover from workout to workout. If you felt better training every thing 2x a week go for it.