Increased Training Frequency

by Dr. Michael Hartman, from his site (with permission) Dr. Hartman Blog.

Any positive change in performance is connected to our ability to adapt to the training program, given that the program is based on a progressive overload in training load over time. In long term training plans the improvement in performance will continue as long as the athlete continues to adapt. Once adaptation occurs it is essential to increase the training load usually through an increase in volume of training or intensity of training but rarely through a change in training frequency. Meaning, volume of training will always be determined by the desired intensity of training. As intensity increases, by definition, there has to be a decrease in training volume. So, those variables will change but only proportional to one another.

Many athletes who are not professional and train recreationally do not have the ability to increase the frequency of training (usually determined as number of training session per week) as this requires adding more days to an already busy week. Be it school, work, or family obligations, adding more training sessions is not always a high priority.

How can an athlete increase training frequency given a limited number of training days per week? Eliminate and Concentrate. Eliminate exercise that you ‘think you should be doing, and Concentrate on the ones you ‘know you should be using in your training.

Prioritize the exercises used in training, in terms of importance to competition, current strength/weakness, degree of transfer, and technical ability…and then only perform those exercises listed in the Top 3. Simple as that…

Whatever criteria you use to make your list should be based on your current needs in training. Be it strength, technique, overall performance, recovery, etc., but select only the Top 3 exercises and perform no other exercise for at least 4-weeks. At the end of 4-weeks, re-prioritize your training goals, and reevaluate your list. If your list has changed, so then should your training.

By performing the same 3 exercises at each training session you will increase the frequency at which you perform those exercises but not alter your days of training per week. Whereas before, an athlete who trained up to 12 different exercises in a given week may have only performed each exercise once per week for a total of 4 times in a solid month of training, depending on the number days of training it is possible to eclipse that in only 1-week. The volume and intensity of each exercise may have to be adjusted at each training session (addressed in a future post), but the exercise should be limited to only the Top 3 for that given training cycle.

Obviously this is not a long term solution for a number of reasons, but a short term increase in frequency may be enough to continue to produce adaptations. If more days per week are not an option, more exposure to the best exercises should be enough to continue progress.

I thought this was a fantastic article and would be really helpful to a lot of you. If you have superfluous assistance exercises, this method of stripping them and focusing on the primary lifts for four to six weeks will probably yield impressive results. Discuss in the comments.