How Frequent Should I Be Training?
“How many times should I be training a week?” The question that fitness professionals have heard multiple times and wishing they had a nickel for everytime it was asked. The concept of training frequency can be hard to understand for a person who is beginning their fitness journey. Implementing proper frequency can be tough for those who have been training for a couple years, proving that it can be both consistent and relevant to their program. Whether you can train 2 times per week, or up to 5 to 6 days a week, frequency doesn’t directly correlate to your overall fitness. The common misconception for most, is that training more frequently will provide results in a shorter amount of time. In all reality, the amount of times spent training per week can directly affect the recovery needed to perform as desired. Meaning, If you choose to train 2-3 times per week, you may not need as much recovery as someone who is performing 5-6 times per week.
What is training frequency? Training frequency can be defined as the amount of sessions you train per week and specifically the amount of times you prefer to work certain muscle groups. As you continue to read, please recognize frequency covering both of those concepts. Understanding frequency is important for determining your program needs, and the possibilities for increasing your fitness. However, there are some additional considerations to be mentioned that can help you determine the correct amount of frequency to meet you where you currently are. What are your training sessions dependent on? To help guide you, let's cover a few factors that seem to be the most important:
1. Consistency of Training
2. Training Experience
3. Goal and Sport Specificity
4. Aspects of Recovery
1.) Consistency of Training
Consistency demonstrates your commitment to your program. Regardless of the amount of days you choose to train, prioritize meeting the frequency you have chosen. You get what you put into it. If your intentions are to train 4 to 5 days a week, and you can only meet 2 days a week for the entire mesocycle, then only expect results that would reflect 2 days of training per week.
2.) Training Experience
More frequency can be allowed to individuals who have been training longer. They can handle more frequent training due to acclimating to the overall work over time. With acclimatization and proper progression through your program, you can raise your ceiling to introduce more attempts at training.
Does a higher training frequency provide more results, more quickly? Yes, without a doubt. With program design, it is encouraged to add those training days when you are able to commit to them.
3.) Goal and Sport Specificity
The Amount you train can certainly benefit or hinder your progress towards your training goals, if not managed properly. This is when we can mix frequency with different types of intensity and it can either put us behind on how well we recover, or it may also not provide enough intensity and stimuli to allow proper progression.
4.) Aspects of Recovery
How you prioritize your recovery can put you in the best position to training more frequently. Here we should emphasize on nutrition, sleep, hydration, and resting periods around your training sessions. If we are applying high intensity to our frequency, this would have an increasing demand on the quantity of your recovery methods.
Life can get busy for us, but we have to be able to prioritize our health, even at our busiest. One of the best things we can do for ourselves is understand the minimum frequency needed in order to at least maintain our current body composition until our busy season slows down. What does this look like? For each one of us, it can look a little different. But, if we can gain experience and get better at calorie balance and still manage getting to the gym 2-3 days a week for a regular routine, this would meet standards. If not, scale to what you can do. Some weeks it may be 1-2 times a week in the gym, with an additional workout at home using body weight exercises. Above all else, win the battle of calories in v. calories out.