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As the saying goes, less is often more.
At least when it comes to training.
This isn’t an excuse for sitting on your butt six days a week, only dragging yourself away from the TV and couch for a quick training session once every seven days, then returning to the sanctity of your living room and a life of junk food and laziness, but getting great results isn’t always about training more.
The phrase “over-training” is often banded around, and while true over-training is very rare, it is possible to reach a state of over-reaching, or fatigue, where your nervous system becomes tired, performance decreases, you don’t recover so well from sessions, and start to feel run down.
Whoever you talk to, you’ll likely get a different opinion on training frequency from everyone. Some believe in a super high intensity approach, with only one session every five to 10 days, such as the methods touted by bodybuilder Mike Mentzer and exercise physiologist Dr. Ellington Darden.
Others will recommend a more moderate approach of training each muscle group once, twice or even three times per week as advised in generic bodybuilding routines, or strength building full body workouts.
You also have those who are staunch believers in high frequency training. This is most commonly seen in Olympic weightlifters, who train the same muscle groups and same exercises over and over again, maybe up to five or six times per week. They believe that strength is a skill that must be practiced, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get.
Coming from a cardiovascular point of view, you’ll get just as many different approaches, from people who stick to one or two all out sessions a week to those who train every single day, regardless of how they’re feeling, any injuries they have, or what the rest of their week’s schedule looks like.
When it comes to the best training frequency for females, as with just about anything else in the fitness world, there’s no best approach, and certainly isn’t a “one size fits all” method.
It’s worth experimenting with a variety of different methods, and don’t dismiss anything without trying it first. While others may have a different approach to you, that doesn’t necessarily, mean that yours is wrong. What works for your friend or colleague probably won’t work for you.
The two scenarios you want to avoid when planning your training frequency are:
- a lack of results, and
- injury or fatigue.
A lack of results is almost guaranteed to be caused by not training enough. You’re simply just not putting the work in. When it comes to weight loss, if you have a solid diet in place, then the calories you burn from exercise need to be enough to lead to steady, consistent fat loss. It’s slightly different if you’re training for strength, as a lack of results can also be caused by doing too much, but this will manifest itself with signs of fatigue and tiredness, linking us in with the second issue of injury and fatigue. These can be caused by poor form, or factors outside the gym, such as stress, a lack of sleep or poor diet, but is most often linked to training too frequently.
Take a look at the following options for training frequency, try each for two to three weeks, and decide what works best for you.