Train More Frequently for Better Results

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

For most of us, we are training to get stronger and add some muscle.

In doing so we will become more athletic, more resilient to injury and will be more confident with the way we look and feel.

So with this in mind a common question I am asked is how many times per week should we train in order to maximize strength gains and a leaner, more muscular physique?

And how long should training sessions be?

Should training take hours on end a couple times per week, or should we be training nearly every day utilizing shorter sessions?

As usual the answer is somewhere in the middle, and as always, it depends on the individual.

The Untrained Individual

This isn’t a knock on anyone who has been getting after training consistently, but you may not be as trained as you think.

Unless you have been training consistently for more than two years, you are an untrained individual. Again, this is not to say you are not a consistent trainee, but you still have not reached the status of a truly trained individual.

And if you are someone who has been “working out” off and on for more than two years, remember that the training must be consistent in order to be considered trained.

Untrained individuals will see dramatic improvements and progress with training when compared to trained individuals as they have a bigger window of adaptation.

Think of anytime you pick up a new skill or hobby (including training). You may not be the best at first, but you will make quick progress if you stick to it consistently. Then, after a while progress slows.

It has been shown that untrained individuals will experience sufficient strength and size gains with a more traditional, less frequent approach to training. This less frequent approach would be something like three full body sessions per week.

But, it has also been shown that these same individuals will make similar progress on a more frequent training split (4+ sessions per week).

Trained Individuals

Those of us who have been at the training game for more than 2 years (consistently) will likely experience greater progress with more frequent training when compared to three times or less per week.

And the great thing is that this is volume matched training. This means that you may not have to perform more overall volume (adding extra volume with another session in addition to your already existing three times per week), but instead you can redistribute your 3x/week training over 4+ times per week.

For example, let’s say you perform a total of 12 sets of squats per week.

To take advantage of more frequent training, you do not have to now perform more sets of squats per week (say 15-16 sets), but you can simply take your 12 sets and spread them out over more sessions during the week.

This may mean that instead of 4 sets of squats 3 days per week, you can now do 3 sets of squats 4 days per week.

And the same would go for any other exercise.

Hopefully that math is not too complicated!

 

The Added Benefits of More Frequent Training

When you only train 3x or less per week you will have to perform a high volume during those sessions to accrue a sufficient stimulus for the week.

If you train 4x or more per week you can perform less volume during those sessions as the total overall volume is now distributed over more sessions.

Not only will this decrease the amount of time each sessions takes, but in my personal experience as well as those of our athletes, it will decrease the demand on the body during each session.

I am not saying that the intensity won’t be high, actually quite the opposite. When you have less overall volume to perform in a given session, you can put more effort/intensity into each set.

Although you may try not to, if you know that you have a marathon of a session ahead, you are likely to sandbag and not push the initial sets of your session to your full capacity.

Knowing that you have less total sets to perform for a session will allow you to make the most out of every set.

Lastly, you will notice that at the end of the session you will not feel like you were just run over by a 18 wheeler! Instead, as long as you kept the intensity high, you will feel like you completed a quality session that will leave you ready to train again soon.

To Train or Not to Train…More Frequently

Taking the above info into consideration, it would seem that a greater training frequency is superior to less frequent training, especially when you are a trained individual.

Untrained individuals can achieve sufficient adaptations from a less frequent training regimen, but will still achieve the results with more frequent training.

Many of us can dedicate 45 minutes to an hour per day for training, but it is when we start talking about an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half that things start to get a bit crazy!

With higher frequency training, sessions are shorter, less damage to the body will occur and because of the more frequent stimulus on the body (central nervous system, musculoskeletal system, cardiovascular system, hormone regulation, etc.), you will experience greater strength and muscular gains.

And the best part is that this occurs without any extra volume. Merely spreading the same training program out in an efficient manner will provide the adaptations necessary for continued progress.

Try taking your existing program and spreading it out over 4+ days and let us know how you do.

 

 

 

Make Change Easy…Easier!

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

 

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to spend the day with a bunch of really smart dudes (and dudettes) at the 3rd annual Cressey Sports Performance Fall Seminar.

While I am always excited about the talks that go over the nuts and bolts of training such as movement assessment, cueing/coaching and programming, I was the most excited to see Greg Robins present on helping athletes get and stay motivated to reach their goals, and make a positive change.

Greg’s ability to put the information into context, as well as emotionally connect with the audience made his presentation 2nd to none. It was also a great demonstration of how we as coaches, spouses, friends and family can help others make a positive change and live a happier and healthier life…and get jacked diesel and more athletic of course!

The big three components to making a change (one that actually lasts) are the mind (knowledge), the heart (emotion) and the path (situation/environment), as Greg discussed.

 

 

This was something that I had previously read about in Switch by Dan and Chip Heath, but the way Greg was able to reiterate their message was superb and a great reminder to how we can be successful with our training, nutrition and lifestyle.

So just how can we make sure that a positive change will occur, last and make it easier to obtain?

It is not by accruing more information. Many of us already know what to do and in many cases have too many options. Rather it is by making an emotional connection to the change we are seeking and then paving a path that will be the most conducive in allowing us to get there.

Here are a few tips to help you in making the change in which you seek whether it is to lose body fat/weight, gain muscle and/or strength or simply to live a healthier life that will allow you to have fun and enjoy everything to the fullest.

 

1)      Identify your goal

 This is pretty self explanatory as most of us know what our goal is, but again, it is how we get there that we need help with.

 

2)      Ask yourself why you want this at least three times

For example, if you want to lose body fat as yourself why.

Let’s say your first answer is so you can fit into your old clothes, ask yourself why again.

 

 

Your second answer may be that you want to be able to do so as you have a 10 year high school reunion in a few months.

Ask yourself why one last time and you are likely to discover that you want to lose body fat so you feel confident around others, and maybe so you can impress that someone you used have a thing for.

That is the deeper why, and the why you need to make an emotional connection.

 

3)      Make the emotional connection

From the last point you may have been able to make the emotional connection. Maybe you want a passionate relationship that you can be confident in. There is your emotional connection…the want to love, and to be happy with yourself the entire time.

Other emotions can be the driver such as fear, but discovering a positive emotion is best.

 

4)      Pave a better path

Now it is time to make the journey easier.

Develop a support team (your friends/family/colleagues) who will be there for you along the way. Make sure they know about your goals and ask them to help you. If they think it is silly and tell you to forget it, well, forget them. Remove them from the situation.

 

 

Next, make your living environment fit your goals. Again relating to health and performance, try to get replace the temptations that may hold you back from your goals such as highly processed, high sugar foods. Try replacing them with something else that is still sweet but healthy.

And if your daily routine consists of you working, getting home and sitting on the couch, make it a point to replace sitting on the couch with something else such as a walk, foam rolling session or quick training session.

The idea is to replace the non-constructive stuff with more conducive items/activities.

 

5)      Make the change EASY

If the change you are seeking seems like a daunting task, make it much simpler. Instead of losing 20lbs, think of losing 1-2 pounds per week as the goal.

And even better, make the goal a process goal. Forget about losing weight/fat and focus on building routines/habits such as eating protein with each meal, going for a 10 minute walk every morning or taking 15 minutes to chill out in the middle of your day.

Whatever you think you can do 99% of the time.

As Greg mentioned, it is the little successes that will grow into big accomplishments and allow us to continue to make progress. So try and recognize your little successes and keep them piling up!

 

Conclusion

While this article is an extremely, let me repeat, EXTREMELY watered down version of what we discussed (in fact this may be only about 5% of what Greg covered), it is a good start to understanding a conducive behavior change process.

As Greg and I talked about afterwards, it doesn’t matter if you (or the person who is trying to make the change) knows 100% of the what they need to do if they are not emotionally invested and have a path to follow.

Greg and I both agreed that we would rather have an athlete who only understands 10% of what to do and does that nearly 100% of the time than an athlete who knows 100% of the information, but only does 5% of what they know, and only 50% of the time…that works out to 10% vs 2.5% for those you who really want the math!

So identify your goal, ask yourself why 3 times, find the emotion attached and start to plan the path that will allow you to get closer to your goals every day. And when your goals change (which they will) repeat the process and live a happy and healthy life defined by the body and confidence you want and deserve.

If you liked this article share it with EVERYONE so they have a better chance of reaching their goals and making positive changes…and give Greg a shout out because he is a smart dude!

The High Knee Wall Drive

 

By Kyle Arsenault CSCS

 

If you read last weeks post you would know that this past weekend the Momentum Team traveled to Hamden, CT to spend the weekend learning from one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in our industry, Nick Winkelman of EXOS ( if you don’t know about Nick click HERE and just know that he is an incredibly smart dude!). 

A majority of the conference was focused on getting athletes fast (acceleration and top speed) as well as how to help athletes enhance reactive ability (agility). Because of this we covered numerous drills that helped bring about and solidify mechanics in both acceleration and top speed movement.

 

 

A couple of key concepts that were carried throughout the entire weekend were:

1)      The importance of a quality knee drive (a violent action achieving 80 degrees of hip flexion with one leg, while simultaneously achieving full hip extension of the other…also known as hip separation).

2)      The importance of maintaining a long, rigid torso during sprinting, running and overall movement as it acts as an anchor for leg and arm action and a base for force transfer (this is nothing new if you have been reading my articles about the importance of core position and control all along!).

When we can maintain a long, rigid torso via a strong and properly functioning core we can then transfer force efficiently which allows us to sprint faster, cut quicker, lift heavier and move better overall…a good thing if we are trying to enhance overall health and performance.

And with these goals in mind, Nick brought us through a series of drills.

While there is no way I can cover all of these drills in this article (nor would I as I am not a fan of straight regurgitation of information) I do want to present one drill that I have begun to implement with my athletes that has tremendous overall benefits, not just speed development.

And what better way than with a quick video?!

So here is a video covering the High Knee Wall Drive. Below the video are some key benefits of the exercise as well as a little further discussion. Check it out and let me know what you think!

 

 

Key Benefits

1)      Promotes the quality and timing of hip separation (hip flexion and extension) which is critical for sprinting, running and many other lower body movements such as lunges, single leg deadlifts, step ups, etc.

2)      Provides core control and strengthening (our ability to maintain trunk posture/position so there is no flexion, extension or rotation while moving extremities).

3)      Along with number 2, it helps to improve overall postural awareness.

4)      Works to improve single leg stance by focusing on not allowing a weight shift and hip fallout.

5)      Helps to activate the glute of the down/drive leg.

6)      Helps to enhance strength of hip flexor of the up/through leg.

Once your High Knee Wall Drive is solid you can then take the same principles to marching, skipping, bounding and then running. And again, this is not only great for running mechanics, but more so, overall efficient movement. 

Hopefully this article and video gives you another exercise to add to your arsenal, and you understand just how effective it can be when executed properly. Let me know what you think as you start to use it.

If you have any questions or comments leave them below.

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