There are countless different approaches to strength training and bodybuilding.
From classic 5×5 style programs to 5 day per week ‘bro splits’, you can always find a new routine to try out… along with hordes of fanboys cockfighting about why their methods are best.
But, as anyone with a few years of weightlifting experience under their belt knows, pretty much any of these approaches can be effective and yield you great results… assuming its fits your lifestyle and you can stick to it and stay consistent.
In this article I want to make the argument why high frequency, low volume full body training might be a superior alternative for YOU.
#1: You Get to Lift More Often
A typical setup for this type of training would be alternating between two full body workouts (lifting every other day). For example:
- Workout 1: squats, bench press, bent over rows, curls, tricep extensions, leg raises
- Workout 2: deadlifts, overhead press, weighted chin-ups, lateral delt raises, decline sit-ups
This is the high frequency component of this style of training. And the great thing about this is that you get to lift more often. Sure, maybe not as often as a 5 day per week bodybuilding split, but more often than the typical 3 day per week full body split.
I don’t know about you, but I fucking love lifting (I’m talking about squatting, deadlifting, pressing, rowing, and lifting real weight… NOT that shoulder day and arm day bullshit). I hate having to take the 2 day break you get with most 3 or 4 day per week routines. And that’s why this setup works great for me.
#2: Shorter Workouts
As much as I love lifting weights and hitting the gym, I’m a busy guy. I run a business. I have friends. I have hobbies. I like girls. And cultivating each of these things demands time.
I simply can’t afford to spend 2 hours in the gym… not without sacrificing something else.
Because you’re lifting full body every other day, however, you don’t have to. In fact, it’s actually a lot more effective to have shorter workouts with this setup. I usually spend about 45 minutes per workout in the gym. Instead of doing 5 heavy sets of 5, or 4 heavy sets of 6, I typically perform just ONE heavy set of 5 (with a series of warm up sets leading up to it).
This is the low volume component of this type of training, and it’s so crucial because it makes it easy to fit your workout into your day-to-day schedule. And the truth is that staying consistent, and avoiding missing workouts, is probably the most important factor is achieving sustainable long term results.
#3: Better Results (Muscle and Strength)
Okay, let’s talk about why high frequency, low volume training is actually great for getting you results.
Studies show that when you lift weights, rates of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) inside your body are raised for about 36 hours. This is significant because your body is only in an anabolic state when rates of MPS exceed rates of muscle protein breakdown (MPB). This means that your body has the best shot of building new muscle for 36 hours after you hit the gym.
Because you’re doing full body workouts that target all of your major muscle groups, the rates of MPS are constantly being raised throughout your entire body. You take advantage of this fact by resting, eating, and recovering during this time period… not jamming in more workouts that are likely to elevate your levels of MPB and compromise this natural response.
Some may argue that the low volume component of this type of training could potentially limit your ability to build muscle, and that some people need more volume to see gains. In response to this I would say 2 things:
- First, even though the volume is low on each individual training day, you’re still training your full body every other day, and so the total volume and workload for the week won’t be as low as you might expect.
- Second, because you’re only doing one heavy set per workout, you’ll be able to use a heavier weight than would be possible if you were doing several heavy sets in a row. This higher intensity also makes up for some of volume you’re missing out on.
In fact, studies show that moderate volume training routines promote better strength gains than high volume ones. Of course, the exact definition of what differentiates moderate from high volume isn’t crystal clear, but this still shows that there IS a point at which adding volume can hinder your gains.
#4: You Feel Better (No Need to Deload)
Because your training loads are lower on a day-to-day basis, you’re far less likely to experience the ‘burn out’ effects that can come with high volume training. This is because your body has the chance to fully recover in between each and every workout (and avoid accumulating fatigue).
You see, when you follow a high volume workout program, it can become necessary to take periodic deloads, where you significantly drop the volume and intensity of your workouts every 2 or 3 months. Failing to do so can prevent you from recovering from these periods of ‘overreaching’… and continuing to ignore this needed recovery time has been documented to negatively affect strength levels and even lead to other symptoms like extreme fatigue and depression.
With high frequency, low volume training you completely avoid this trap. You get to feel awesome all of the time. And you don’t have to worry about if and when you need a deload.
So… Is This Training for YOU?
Note: in the video above, I break down the pros and cons of using this type of training (vs a regular split routine).
So, is low volume, high frequency training 100% optimal for everyone? No, of course not.
But given the benefits we covered above, I’d say that it’s a great fit for most modern men… men who love to work out and grow stronger, but don’t want it to detract from the rest of their busy lives.
I know it’s worked wonders for me.