New Study Shows Training a Muscle Four times per Week Is Superior for Strength

New Study Shows Training a Muscle Four times per Week Is Superior for Strength

Wondering how many sessions a week are needed to hit a new PB? Here’s the magic number

When it comes to gaining strength, not all programming is created equal. We know that in order to gain muscular size, there is a greater demand for higher volume and pushing closer to failure in your workouts. However, a new study has shown the differences that training frequency (how many workouts a week) can induce when it comes to strength gains.

If you want to work smarter and see new PBs, then look no further.


The Study

The study published in the European Journal of Sports Science aimed to investigate the effects of different training frequencies on maximal strength, muscle hypertrophy, and jump performance in resistance trained adults.

The participants took part in an eight-week training intervention consisting of four compound (multi-joint) exercises such as squats, deadlifts, split squats, and Bulgarian split squats.

The participants were divided into two groups: one group performed all exercises in one session per week, while the other group spread the exercises across four sessions per week.

Before the programme, baseline measurements were taken for maximal strength (1 rep max squat), muscle mass, muscle thickness for the vastus lateralis – the muscle running along the side of the thigh – and jump height. The participants were then assessed again after the eight-week intervention period.

The training programme progressively increased in intensity and volume over the eight weeks, with weights starting from 12 RM (rep max) and increasing to 6 RM, and from four to five sets per exercise. Participants were supervised during all sessions. If they missed a session, they were told to perform it later and log their progress.


The Results

The results revealed significant improvements in 1 rep max squat for both groups, with the high frequency training group showing greater strength gains compared to the low frequency training group. Muscle thickness increased in both groups, but there was no significant difference between them. Jump performance also improved in both groups without a significant difference between them.

The study discussed several factors that may have influenced the results, including training volume, specificity (exercise type), and neuromuscular adaptations (maximal muscle recruitment). It suggested that higher training frequencies may be more beneficial for improving maximal strength, possibly due to the cumulative effect of multiple sessions on neural adaptations.

Limitations in the study were also acknowledged, including the measurement of muscle mass using bioelectrical impedance which can be unreliable. Also the study’s sample size was small due to some dropouts.


The Conclusion

The study recommended distributing training volume across multiple sessions per week for those aiming to increase maximal strength.

This makes sense from a programming perspective, to hit your big lifts fresh on separate days, as opposed to squeezing them into one day. Therefore being able to hit them fully recovered, with maximum effort.


How Many times a Week Should I Work Out for Strength?

If increasing maximal strength is your primary goal, in light of the research, you could consider distributing your weekly training volume across multiple sessions per week.

Based on the study’s results, a higher training frequency (e.g. four sessions per week) may lead to greater gains in maximal strength compared to fewer sessions. However, it’s important to consider what is suitable for your schedule and fitness levels in order to maintain consistency and achieve enough recovery between workouts.

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