Ask The Trainer #96 – Does Infrequent Training Really Work?

Ask The Trainer #96 - Does Infrequent Training Really Work?


Do you really think muscle hypertrophy is possible by training a muscle group just once per week or once every 2 weeks? It seems that most people advocate training each muscle group 2-3 times week. I am curious as to your thoughts on this?



Hi, Ron. Not only do I think muscle hypertrophy is possible by training each muscle group weekly, or even bi-weekly, but I KNOW it’s possible! How? I am living proof!

My greatest strides in strength and muscular development were achieved by engaging in weight training routines that consisted of intense, but infrequent workouts like that. However, the more important question is this – Is training each muscle group weekly, or possibly biweekly ideal for you personally? Now this will be based on two important factors: 1) How much stress you inflict upon your body when you do train and 2) Your body’s current rate of protein synthesis.

Training Intensity and Frequency

The more intense your training is, the longer it will take you to recover. Of course, recovery must precede growth. If you don’t completely recover, your ability to achieve muscle and strength gains will be reduced.

The more difficult you make your workouts, the longer it will take your body to recover. I like to increase the difficulty of my workouts by using heavier weights, performing repetitions in a slower, more controlled manner, incorporating supersets, incorporating rest/pauses, and spending less time between sets. By using these higher intensity training techniques, I can inflict a great deal of damage upon my body within a very short time frame.

That’s another important point I want to mention. The more intense your workouts are, not only will you have to engage in those workouts less frequently, but you’ll also have to reduce the duration of your workouts to avoid overtraining.

Every highly intense set you perform makes an inroad into your body’s recovery ability. Furthermore, every sequential set like this results in a deepening of the inroads into your body’s recovery ability. This where most people go wrong.

Most Common Mistake

They perform too many consecutive high-intensity sets for every exercise. For example, they’ll do 4-5 sets to absolute failure on 4-5 different exercises. This causes deep inroads into the body’s recovery ability that may not be refilled for a couple of days. In some cases, it could be several weeks!

Remember what I said. Recovery MUST precede growth. So this turns into a vicious cycle of incomplete protein turnover, where the muscles are perpetually broken down at a faster rate than they can repair. This is one of the main reason you see so many people busting their humps in the gym year after year, yet they never realize any noticeable progress.

By now you should understand that the more intense your workouts are, the briefer they should be, and the less frequently you’ll be able to do them. Does this automatically mean you should train each muscle group just every week, or every two weeks? I don’t know because that will depend upon your individual rate of protein synthesis, or—your body’s ability to have individual cells build their specific proteins.

The more efficient your body is in this respect, the faster your body will recover, and the more frequently you’ll be able to lift weights without overtraining. Protein synthesis is what controls the “filling in” of that inroad, or hole, which is dug into your body’s recovery subsystems every time you train!

Protein Synthesis

There are numerous factors that determine your individual rate of protein synthesis. For example, your age is a major one! As we grow older, our testosterone & growth hormone-to-cortisol ratios change. Cortisol levels tend to increase as our testosterone & growth hormone levels decrease.

The results of this hormonal shift are generally noticeable by the time we reach our upper 20s to early 30s. Then it’s even more obvious as you surpass age 40. I can attest to this! It’s not that you won’t be able to do what you could when you were in your 20s. You just won’t be able to do it for as long or as often.

Other primary factors that dictate protein synthesis are your body’s ratio of various muscle fiber types, the amount of myostatin in your body, your genetic metabolism, your nutrition, and the amount of quality sleep you get each night. There are also supplements like branched chain amino acids, whey protein, Kre-Alkalyn, and glutamine that will have a positive effect on protein synthesis as well.


To conclude, there will be some trial and error involved in determining just how frequently you should be training each muscle group. I always tell people the best way to measure this is by maintaining a training journal and keeping track of every workout you do. Write down each exercise, the weight you use, the number of sets you do (including warmups), and the number of repetitions you perform on each set.

If you’re seeing increases in the weight you’re using, the repetitions you’re performing— or both— then it’s safe to say your workout routine is productive. If you’re not seeing any increases among any of these aspects, then something needs to change. Usually, people get stuck in these plateaus because they’re doing too much, and rarely because they’re doing too little. High-intensity exercise is the spark that ignites the flame of muscle growth. But when it’s carried out too long, that flame will be extinguished. The question you’re probably wondering is— what is a good starting point for establishing an effective workout?

Training System

Well, it just so happens that I’ve developed a training system where I took into account the issue of implementing an effective amount of high-intensity training, along with adequate recovery time to avoid overtraining. This system is called, 8 Week Transformation Triumph, and it’s currently being offered to all of our readers absolutely FREE!! No strings attached!! (Just go back up to the book image on this post to get it).

Even though it’s set up as an 8-week program, you can use the workout routine long term. Just simply take 1 week off after you’ve been on it for 8 weeks, then start again! I’m confident the protocols within this program will work very well for most people! So give it a try, and please let me know how you do with it!

I wish you all the best of success with your training!

Prove ‘Em Wrong,
Chad Shaw

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