27 December 2018
TRAINING FOR HYPERTROPHY: THE QUADS
In this new series, I’d like to lay out thorough general training recommendations for all major bodyparts. To begin, I’d like to address quad training, and in the interest of producing regular content, I’ve opted to break each bodypart’s training recommendations into parts, beginning with training frequency. PART 1: TRAINING FREQUENCY FOR QUAD HYPERTROPHY In…
In this new series, I’d like to lay out thorough general training recommendations for all major bodyparts. To begin, I’d like to address quad training, and in the interest of producing regular content, I’ve opted to break each bodypart’s training recommendations into parts, beginning with training frequency.
PART 1: TRAINING FREQUENCY FOR QUAD HYPERTROPHY
In my experience, the quads do tend to be relatively slow to recover, perhaps because of their size or because the anatomy of the lower body allows the quads to easily be heavily loaded at high muscle lengths (think squats). Whatever the underlying cause, this common difference in rate of recovery relative to other muscle groups demands programming accommodations.
Specifically, I’ve found that extremely high training frequencies for the quads, such as 5-7x per week (yes, that’s daily training in the latter case) are generally not well-tolerated; on top of local, muscular fatigue, the exercises which tend to best train the quads also tend to just wipe you out (again, think squats). As such, I’ve found 4x weekly training to represent a good maximum training frequency for the quads, with no more than two quad-stimulating sessions in a row across the training week.
Of course, you’ve probably noticed this discussion so far has approached the question of training frequency only from the perspective of maximal frequency, rather than optimalfrequency. And indeed, as is often the case in life more generally, that which is ideal is often less than the absolute maximum one can tolerate.
As such, if we approach this question from the opposite direction, I think we find straight away that once-weekly frequency is the lowest which has been shown, both in the scientific literature and in practice, to generate robust hypertrophy. Truthfully, I think this is so uncontroversial from both perspectives, it need not be further addressed.
However, as evidence has accumulated over the past decade, it’s become progressively more clear that frequencies higher than 1x per week generate better gains, on average – even when total weekly volume is equated. This is a somewhat remarkable result, as it unambiguously undermines the view that frequency is merely a means of organizing volume; indeed, assuming that hypertrophy increases with increased frequency, with all other variables controlled, the only coherent explanation is that frequency is itself a stimulus for muscle growth – or, at the very least, increased training frequency allows a greater stimulus to be generated (again, with all else being equal, and only to a certain point). As such, I think we have good reason to generally favor higher frequencies(although, again, not necessarily extremely high) – but, importantly, always within the confines of recovery capacity and scheduling restrictions.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Beginners: 3x weekly frequency, to develop a strength base on compound lifts
Intermediates: 2-3x weekly frequency, to take advantage of the hypertrophic benefits of frequencies above 1x weekly
Advanced: 3x weekly frequency as a baseline, with the potential for 4x weekly frequency in specialization phases
Female Lifters with high stress tolerance: up to 6x weekly frequency