A bodybuilders method of training can be redundant. You have the same weekly split week after week of daily isolated muscle groups. You also give your muscles a week, if not several days between working the same muscles. Recovery is important, but who is to say that fatigue or soreness is the only gauge of knowing if a muscle is ready to be worked again? Bodybuilding methods are for sure effective and produce results. There are simply other ways to speed up progress and make faster strength gains.
Using the tried and true methods along with hard work, consistency and dedication will yield results – there is no question. There’s no reason to abandon all of the basics and fundamentals that you’ve learned from bodybuilding and the normal routine that you follow. But, there are ways to help speed up your progress and push yourself more than normal to increase muscle mass and perhaps shed some extra unneeded fat in the process. There are ways to increase your frequency and work on weaknesses through high frequency training.
Train Smart and Harder
Following the basic concepts of bodybuilders and the typical trainers around your gym, they will stress the fact that recovery is the aspect of weight lifting that produces the muscle growth and strength gains that you are looking for. Usually, it is recommended that you rest each worked muscle group for at least three days and some even venture to say that you should wait a week. The typical signals of strength loss or soreness are generally regarded as a need for more recovery time and more rest.
There’s a fine line between overtraining and increasing frequency as well as intensity. Increasing frequency and intensity is as simple as adding more reps per set, adding more sets per exercise, adding more weight each exercise and training muscle groups more throughout the week. If you are eating enough calories and sleeping enough to recover, then overtraining should not become an issue. However, it is important to watch for the classic signs of over exercising such as an increased resting heart rate, excessive fatigue, disturbed sleep and lack of appetite on multiple days – adjust your workouts accordingly. Ruining your health will not give you the results that you are looking for by overtraining.
Making this increase in workload in the gym can be a bit much with work, families and other obligations, but it can really be beneficial in the long-term. You increase your ability to work harder for longer periods of time and increase your overall strength – meaning, you’re increasing your athleticism and look like a bodybuilder in the process. This new training protocol might cause slightly less than normal performance in the beginning, but will start to make huge differences over time.
Make Weaknesses Stronger and Better
Every physique has its challenges either in its appearance, in its performance or both. A great aspect of high frequency training is that it gives you the opportunity to work on these problem areas more throughout each week to make those weaknesses, your strengths. This should take place gradually over a period of time as to not create a situation of overtraining a particular aspect of your body that will result in a decrease in strength as well as inability to recover.
Using myself as an example, I have weak and small calves. To start increasing their size and my ability to work them more, I could add a few sets of calf raises a few times a week. Nothing crazy, something like bodyweight raises on a flight of stairs a few days per week. It won’t seem like much at the time, because I’m only using my bodyweight, but consistently doing this over a few weeks and I’ll start seeing the results of the extra effort.
Exercises to Add
Increasing frequency and intensity does not always have to take place in the gym. There is plenty of opportunity to add different movements and exercises into your regimen at home a few days per week that requires little to no equipment. Regular body weight pushups parallel to the floor are great to work the chest, triceps or shoulders. You can get more creative and do inverted pushups to work the shoulders. Another great form of pushup to work the triceps is to bring the hands close and tight to the ribcage under the armpit. Adding three sets of bodyweight pushups like these two to three days per week is a great way to implement high frequency of use into any lifestyle.
The back and biceps can be a bit more challenging, but with the use of a pullup bar and some bands, you can easily add some extra exercises a few days per week at home. Pullups are the best exercise I can think of to work your upper body and specifically your back. There’s also rows with bands and bicep curls with bands that can be done a few days per week before work in the morning or throughout the day when convenient.
One word should sum up the best exercise for legs: squats. Body weight squats are amazing for building leg muscle and strength. An extra couple hundred squats per day a few days per week will do wonders for building size. You can even have some fun with it and do squat jumps to add a slight cardiovascular aspect to them. In short, your legs will get bigger from added squats. The hams need a touch of creativity to work from home. One way is to use a resistance band hooked around a door handle while sitting in the stationary chair with the band hooked around your ankles, curl your feet in towards your body – like a seated curl machine, but with a band and at home.
Adding home workouts like these are easy and a great beginning to high frequency training. Ultimately, this is leading to adding more weighted and challenging workouts in the gym. When there’s extra time in the day, even a spare twenty minutes, add more volume to muscle groups in reps or sets or exercises. Making increases in your workload in the gym as well as home will help your muscle growth and fit into your lifestyle.
Written by: Samantha Meinrod