“The worst thing I could be is the same as everyone else. I’d hate that.” Arnold Schwarzenegger
Is There A Magic Pill?
Nowadays, we don’t have to dig very hard to find information. A simple Google search can tell us everything we want to know about a subject. At first glance, that sounds great, and it is, but there are definitely some cons that we often overlook.
We say this in the health and fitness community all the time these days. Some kid who’s been in the gym 6 months will tell a veteran who’s achieved tremendous physical development that he’s doing this or that wrong. Or that he’s over training, etc. Let’s put this into perspective for a second.
Typically, when you start something new, you ask questions. You learn from people with experience who have a tried and true resume, and you apply what you’ve learned. You don’t start working at the hospital fresh out of medical school and tell the doctors how to perform surgery. They know how already!
You learn from the experts, and allow their wisdom to shorten your path to success. These days however, people seem to read arbitrary information, and then spit it out as fact. None of this arbitrary information published by scientists is anecdotal, and no the test subjects in the study don’t count.
Why? It’s simple. They aren’t a 30 year old natural bodybuilding champion that’s been working out for 15 years. They have never reached the kind of physical development where people start to question if it’s even possible naturally.
It’s like this. You can read every book in the world on training, but until you get in the gym and start logging hours of hands on experience, learning what works for you and what doesn’t through trial and error, you have no idea about how to create a great physique.
You have to put some skin in the game! That brings me to the purpose of this article. How often should you train a muscle? There are many answers to this question, so I’ll provide some context, and allow you to make your own informed decision.
So What Should You Do?
The recommended training modality for natural lifters these days is to hit a given muscle group every 24 to 72 hours. This is because after training, muscle protein synthesis is elevated for 72 hours max. Elevated protein synthesis means more muscle mass.
So, is this true? Well let’s take a look at my physique and compare. Here is my physique at 235 lbs training each muscle once every six days. My split at the time looked like this.
Day 1: Chest and triceps
Day 2:Back and biceps
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Legs
Day 5: Shoulders
Day 6: Rest. Then repeat that cycle. Oh, and yes this physique is 100% au natural.
Now, here is my physique training at about 225 lbs working each muscle once every 3 days. My split looked like this.
Day 1: Quads and chest
Day 2: Back and Hamstrings
Day 3: Shoulders and arms. Here is what my physique looked like on that program.
Finally, here is what my physique looked like at 240 lbs hitting each muscle every other day. My split at the time was full body every other day. Simple as that.
My diet in each was always similar, although in the last picture, I was definitely not as lean. However, my basic diet has always consisted of two protein shakes and four meals a day. So, as you can see, all of these splits worked to build muscle.
I was able to increase my strength and muscle size on all of these programs. I definitely have my favorite, but my point is that there is no optimal training frequency. You just have to adjust your training volume to whatever your split is.
I will say that high volume has always worked best for me and everyone I know. I did try lower volume routines, even high intensity training, but I found that I was smaller and weaker than when I did high volume. Also, there is a certain quality that the muscles get from high volume training that you won’t get from any other style of training.
All training splits can be effective. Ultimately, you have to figure out what works for you. There is no magic pill, there’s only willing yourself to improve, workout after workout. Week after week, and year after year. So, stop looking for a magic pill, put your head down and work. Eventually, when you look up, you’ll realize how far you’ve come, and that’s what makes this bodybuilding and fitness journey so worth it. Until next time, train hard! I’m out.