Christian, I have a question for you in regards of volume per training session and frequency per week.
First of all the primary goal is to build muscle. The secondary goal is to get strong. But I think both come together anyway.
So when is the volume of a training session to low to provide hypertrophy even the frequency per week is high(er)?
Let`s make an example. The average Bodybuilder Chest Workout looks like this:
Once a week (12 working sets):
Flat Bench 4x8-4
Incline Bench 4x10-6
Now if I split things in half and do 6 sets twice a week I`m much stronger on the lifts and can progress much faster with the same amount of volume (per week).
But what if I would split it up again and would do it like this:
Monday: Flat Bench 4x8-4
Thursday: Incline Bench 4x10-6
Saturday: Dips 4x12-8
Now my frequency is higher than usual but I only do 4 working sets per workout. Every set is close to failure but keeping 1-2 reps in the tank.
Is a volume of only 4 hard sets enough to stimulate hypertrophy or should I stay with training every muslce 2 times a week?
And when training each muscle 3 times a week is beneficial would be an even higher frequency/less volume again more productive (maybe 2 sets per muscle on 6 days a week)?
Sorry for the longer post, but I didn`t know how to explain it in short letters
Thank you for helping me out.
I think that there is a minimal stimulus that needs to be reached to trigger hypertrophy. Meaning that you must achieve a certain stress threshold in a session to stimulate gains during that session.
UNDERSTAND THIS…stimulating gains is NOT about now much volume you do in one week.
Your body DOESN’T get trained for a week then at the end tallies how much work it did over that period and then decide how much adaptation will occur. Adaptation is stimulated daily, at every session. Each session is it’s own event, it’s own stimulus. It does not NOT adapt for 6 days and then on the 7th it decides what to do.
So in that sense, although it looks cool on a piece of paper, doing the exact same volume divided in 1, 2 or 3 weekly sessions will not have a similar effect.
If you don’t do enough work, don’t impose enough of a training stimulus in one session, that session will not trigger maximal adaptation (or might not even trigger adaptation at all). And if that session did not force the body to adapt, the next session is NOT additive… here’s an illustration:
Let’s say that a session requires 10 units to cause a significant adaptation.
Session 1 gives you 7 units
Session 2 gives you 6 units
Session 3 gives you 8 units
None of these sessions provided enough stress to progress.
It Doesn’t work like this: session 1 doesn’t lead to adaptation (only 7 units), after session 2 some adaptation takes place (7+6 = 13 units) and after session 3 even more adaptation occurs (7+6+8 = 21 units). When there is enough rest between sessions, their training stimulus is not additive. If the sessions are so close together that there is a large residual effect on the trained muscle, there can be some addition (for example two daily sessions for the same muscles) but if there are 48+ hours between both then there will be pretty much zero addition… which means that EVERY SESSION MUST BE EFFECTIVE ENOUGH TO STIMULATE GROWTH BY ITSELF.
What is the minimal volume/training stress necessary to stimulate growth? Impossible to say really because it is highly individualized. Some naturally respond to training and thus don’t need a lot of work to stimulate growth. Others are hard responders and need more work to get the same adaptations.
There have been people who made good gains with a HIT style training consisting of 2-4 sets to complete failure per muscle 3 times a week (using a full body program), others who didn’t gain anything from that except during the first 2-3 weeks (which was likely just surcompensation from dropping their training volume).
So my best answer is that in theory dividing the same volume over 3 sessions could work better, could work worse or could not work at all. Disappointing answer I know but it is what it is.
If you want to hit everything with a high frequency the better way of thinking is NOT finding out how much you can breakdown the same volume, but rather finding out what is the minimal workload that gives you solid adaptations and then finding out how often these sessions can be repeated during a week.