Q: You guys don’t seem to like training each muscle only once a week like a lot of pro bodybuilders. How come?
A: More muscle-training frequency is a BIG size stimulator, especially for drug-free trainees—if you do it correctly. Many pros can get away with training each bodypart with excessive volume only once a week because of genetic superiority and, of course, excessive drug use. In fact, if you look back at the best bodybuilders of yesteryear, when steroid use was minimal, training each bodypart THREE times a week was the norm prior to a contest. It’s a bit of a forgotten muscle-size trick…
Guys like Arnold, Sergio, and Frank Zane (pictured below) hit every muscle two if not three times every seven days. In reality, those champs of yesteryear are a lot closer to natural bodybuilders than today’s champs…
Personally, we’d rather look like that on the beach than any of today’s pros, but that’s another story. As far as our experiments with training each bodypart only once a week, we’ve always wanted it to work. Unfortunately, once-a-week hits have never done much for our muscle size. The only time we saw fairly consistent size increases training bodyparts only once a week was when using negative-accentuated sets—one second up on the positive and six seconds on the negative…
NA training triggers excessive muscle trauma that can require seven days of recovery when combined with other heavy sets (as outlined in the X-centric Mass Workout—where it’s also combined with 4X). Nevertheless, once we adapted to X-centric training after about four weeks, growth slowed considerably.
On most other one-hit-per-week programs, our muscle growth was always very sporadic to nonexistent. However, strength usually improved nicely. That’s because the muscles recover faster than the nervous system. After a full week, the nerve connections to a specific muscle have finally regenerated to a stronger level, but the muscles recovered much earlier and then regressed close to square one.
So when a drug-free trainee hits each muscle only once a week, strength improves due to new neuromuscular efficiency not muscular hypertrophy for the most part. So the muscles gain some size and then regress, gain and then regress. Not much muscle-size improvement happens, only strength due primarily to nervous system enhancement.
One really great frequency “trick” is the direct/indirect split. That has you train each muscle two to three times a week, but not with direct hits every time. For example, when you train chest directly, you also train triceps indirectly during all pressing moves. Later in the week when you train triceps, you include close-grip bench presses, which train chest indirectly.
If you’re drug-free, we highly recommend that you DON’T follow the steroid-infused pros; instead, try training each bodypart two or three times a week—and you’ll see massive improvements in your physique.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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