High frequency workouts: a solution for any lifestyle


The benefits of regular resistance training are well establish and therefore it is a vital component of fitness. Traditional resistant training programs require time to complete and can be taxing on the body but the benefits far outweigh the costs. If making time for resistance training is a struggle, if you experience arthritis/joint pain, or if an intense aerobic training schedule is in place then using a high frequency resistance training program may be a viable option.

When programing for resistance training there are a set of variables that must be manipulated to ensure an effective workout regimen. Two such variables are workout volume and workout frequency. Volume refers to how much one does in a given workout while frequency refers to how often one performs the workout. These two variables are often in conflict with each other because higher volume lends itself better to lower frequency. The more sets and reps performed in a given session will cause widespread tissue damage and requires more time for recovery.

Though traditional resistance training programs tend to follow the high volume/low frequency model, more attention is currently be paid to high frequency/low volume resistance training programs because of the many benefits offered. First and foremost is the gains that can be made with high frequency workouts. It turns out that high volume workouts are not required to increase protein synthesis. In fact, as explained by Dr. Jacob Wilson of the University of Tampa in this article, it may be more effective than performing fewer high volume workouts at increasing growth and strength.

How it works is simple. There is a constant equilibrium that occurs between protein breakdown and protein synthesis in the human body. For gains to be made, protein synthesis must be greater than breakdown. This is why resistance training is affective at stimulating growth because it is a potent stimulator of protein synthesis. However, depending on training status, the length of time protein synthesis remains elevated is variable. As Dr. Wilson states in the linked article, experienced resistance training athletes display significantly shorter periods of elevated protein synthesis following a workout.

With that in mind, to increase the length of enhanced protein synthesis brought on by resistance training in highly trained individuals, the boost in synthetic rate must be stimulated more frequently. That is how high frequency/low volume resistance training programs work. By simply working target muscles to failure with low volume each day, one should see steady gains as long as the principle of overload is achieved. Incorporating periodic rest intervals will be necessary as well.

The strategy itself is easy to apply because of the short training times required. Depending on fitness level, results can be seen with just one set of each exercise a day. Workouts last 10-15 minutes tops which is a very doable routine even for the busiest of individuals. Aerobic athletes who spend most of the time training their discipline can use high frequency workouts to supplement their efforts without interrupting routine. Recreational athletes such as golfers and tennis players may benefit from high frequency workouts because it will allow for more regular practice without soreness. Finally, individuals with arthritis and joint pain can keep workouts short and thus cause less stress to the body overall.

A simple high frequency routine involves a set of exercises that work the body as a whole. The following routine involves three days on and one day off allowing for six workouts per every 7-8 days. Only one set of each exercise will be performed to failure (20-30 reps). A typical week would look like this:


Sets/Reps Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1/20-30 Leg press DB shoulder Leg press Day off DB shoulder Leg press DB shoulder
1/20-30 DB chest S. leg deads DB chest Day off S. leg deads DB chest S. leg deads
1/20-30 Lat pulls Upright row Lat pulls Day off Upright row Lat pulls Upright row


Table 1: DB chest – dumbbell chest press; Lat pulls – lat pulldowns; DB shoulder – dumbbell shoulder press; S. leg deads – straight leg deadlifts.

High frequency resistance training programs are a match for any lifestyle and are effective. Consistency is key to success with high frequency training therefore remain on schedule for the duration of the program. Try the program provided or experiment with your own routine. Either way the results will come with effort. That’s all for today, stay tuned for more insights from the perpetual athlete at fittallahassee.com!


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Bill Fredericks

Bill Fredericks

Bill Fredericks

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