Everything in balance
There is a fine line between having enough sessions per week to provide the stimulus for muscle growth and to allow for enough recovery per session.
Before we delve into the recommended training frequency for strength training remember every individuals life schedule is different and that ONE session is always better than NONE!
What is the best evidence?
The literature varies for untrained vs trained individuals. For this post, we are going to focus on the trained individual (i.e. someone who has been participating in strength training for over a few months).
The frequency isn't as important for untrained individuals - focus on form and building good habits first!
Frequency using gym splits
Common training frequencies for strength training include 2-5 sessions per week.
The amount of sessions per week is often determined by the type of gym 'split'.
A split is a tool that divides training sessions by body regions to ensure there is enough volume hitting each muscle to elicit muscle changes each week.
There is well established evidence that the best split is the one that achieves 10-20 quality sets per muscle group per week.
Quality = no 'junk' sets (end of the session fatigue limiting quality movement)
Sets = one bout of reps (i.e. 8 squats)
The literature shows that less than 10 sets is likely not enough to yield any strength changes and that over 20 can lead to excessive soreness and is no more beneficial than 10-20.
What are some examples of gym splits?
Examples of weekly splits include:
A) 2-3 x Full body
B) 2x Lower Body & 2x Upper Body
C) 1x Chest, 1x Back, 1x Legs, 1x Shoulders
D) 1x 'Push', 1x 'Pull, 1x Legs
E) Heaps of other options!
So which is the best split?
Find your best routine
The rule of 10-20 reps per muscle group per week is great It gives us a clear framework to work out how to best plan our workouts around our individual lives.
If you are the kind of person who likes to minimise going to the gym but is happy to go for longer (~60mins) - doing 2 x FB hitting the required sets may be more ideal.
If you are the kind of person who likes going to the gym but for shorter lengths of time (~45 mins) - doing body part splits 4x per week may be more ideal.
Consistency is key! Find a routine that works and is enjoyable.
Recovery Recovery Recovery
Remember that recovery is everything for strength training.
If you decide to do full body sessions ensure that you are training on non-consecutive days to allow for rest.
Different splits will require different rest days - if you are needing help to program your sessions chat to the Marna Physio team!