You get in there, you smash out some flat bench, then incline, some decline and then some flies and cable work. You annihilate that bad boy until you can’t lift any more, and you’re sore for days, until you’re ready to hit chest again next week.
Not really no.
You see, your muscles respond best to frequency if you are talking about strength and size gains, and to train frequency you need to be fresh.
In recent studies, its been shown that training more than 60 or so reps on one specific muscle group presents diminishing returns in terms of muscle growth. In other words, going past that many reps could mean that you’re actually impeding your gains.
Muscle Protein Synthesis occurs immediately when training a specific muscle, and we need this to ensure growth. However, it drops off in the trained muscle after 48 hours. So potentially, you are missing out on 5 days of muscle growth by only training a muscle group once per week.
Well we have to take in to consideration that in order to grow, you need to recover. Setting up a plan to hit each muscle group twice per week is a great way to begin, with any lagging parts hit even more frequently if necessary, to stimulate MPS in that muscle.
If you are training for size and strength, then we need the most important type of stimulus to be involved. That is progressive overload. Research suggests that the metabolic effect of training to failure is only a very small contributor to muscle hypertrophy. Hitting failure can also bring other problems too. Fatigue, overtraining, muscle tissue break down and the muscle not recovering correctly.
The problem you face, is you have to get in the gym and just back off a little from how you think you should train, and just focus on the weights going progressively up over time. That’s not to say you shouldn’t train hard of course, you definitely should.
However annihilating the muscle to complete failure won’t allow it to recover and will further impede growth. Hitting the muscle more frequently, will allow a much larger amount of volume (weight x reps x sets) in the week, without fatiguing your muscles and joints too much.
For example, you perform 8 sets on Monday on Chest, and 8 sets on Friday of chest, but you are able to lift heavier on all of those sets on both days. If you just trained 16 sets on Monday, then the weight on half of those sets are going to be significantly less.
Recommendations generally are that you can train a muscle to failure when performing an isolation exercise, but a heavy press, you should always leave 1-2 reps in the tank.
So don’t lose out on potential gains, and hit your muscles at least twice per week, with adequate recovery, be sensible with your training and make it progressive!
Dan Mitchell. My name is Dan Mitchell. I am a natural physique competitor and coach for Dan Mitchell Fitness, Shredded By Science and The Fit Body Project.
I specialise in comp prep and fat loss/muscle building.
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