How to design a High Frequency Training program! High Frequency routines will give you the best training results of your life, especially if you want bigger muscles with lightning fast recovery. But specifically, what is High Frequency Training? Is it merely high volume training? I'm here to explain how to design your own High Frequency plan with the parameters I've developed over the course of my career.
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Back in I wrote my first article on High Frequency Training HFT , a system of training a muscle group or exercise more than four times per week, and it created quite a buzz in the industry.
I think the concept of HFT struck a chord with lifters and word spread quickly for three reasons. First, intuitively it makes sense that training more often will yield faster results, provided your central nervous system CNS can recover. Second, most guys want to do more than they're currently doing.
Give them the thumbs up to train calves or biceps five times per week and they're as giddy as Kirstie Alley in a doughnut shop. I'd already spent four years experimenting with HFT when I wrote that article, and since then I've written many more on the topic.
I keep adding to my body of work because I'm constantly tweaking my original HFT parameters as I work with more people at various levels of the fitness spectrum. Some guys want to add more muscle; others want to finally be able to knock out 20 pull-ups, while other guys want to improve local recovery. Different goals require a different approach. So now it's time for my latest, most effective and user-friendly version of HFT that will add new muscle wherever you want it. I started experimenting with HFT in after experiencing an awakening while watching the Alexis Brothers break every sacred fitness principle in Cirque du Soleil's Mystere.
What they were doing, especially with regard to training frequency and recovery, shouldn't have been possible — with or without steroids. And man do those dudes have incredible physiques, replete with muscle that's as strong as it looks!
Just one of their performances would hurl most of us into rhabdomyolysis. But these guys perform 10 shows per week! Indeed, they're the embodiment of HFT. Why does HFT work? It's based on a very straightforward concept: some muscles need a lot of volume to grow; significantly more than what you're currently exposing them to. But there's a limit to how much volume you can stuff into one workout, or even one day. Therefore, you must step back and look for ways to increase your weekly volume.
Boxing for 60 minutes once each week won't give you great deltoids, but boxing for 30 minutes six times per week definitely will. Arnold turned his pathetic calves into one of his best body parts when he started training them six times per week. I can give dozens and dozens of other real-world examples and you probably can, too.
The bottom line is that HFT should be a component of your hypertrophy program. It's not a stand-alone principle, but it's an important spoke in the wheel. When you get it right, HFT stands tall as one of the best ways to build new muscle fast. HFT is also based on another principle: increasing the volume of an exercise in a systematic way will make your muscles grow. With the HFT parameters in this article you'll increase your training volume each week because you'll be able to perform more reps of a particular exercise by upregulating neurological and muscular processes.
Importantly, the progression you'll experience isn't linear. You won't add reps with every workout. There will be some stock-market like fluctuations. And just like the stock market, all that matters is you finish significantly higher than you started. I don't stake any claim in creating the simple concept of training more often to build muscle. Arnold figured it out, and many other lifters probably did long before him.
But HFT has been altered, modified, and sometimes watered-down to the point where it's no longer anything more than just training an exercise a bunch of times per week in hopes that something magical will happen.
I know how Dr. Tabata must feel when he sees a YouTube video of droll fitness folk doing shoulder presses for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest labeled as the "Tabata Method. Over the years I've seen numerous adaptations of HFT protocols. Some make sense; others miss the target completely because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the principles it takes to get the right ratios of volume, intensity, and recovery.
The appeal of HFT is huge, so it's easy to think that it'll work equally well for building strength, adding muscle, burning fat or increasing your speed.
Therefore, it's important to know what new principles I've learned since my last article. With this new information you'll learn how and when you should use HFT, and when you shouldn't use it. Fitness buffs want to be able to crank out 20 body weight pull-ups, yet most of them can't. The same is true with push-ups or 20 single leg squats. If you're weaker, your goal might be to achieve 20 full range-of-motion dips for the first time. Basically, I'm talking about adding reps to any exercise that only requires your body weight for resistance.
If you currently fall short of your rep goal, this info is for you. There are typically two schools of thought when it comes to boosting your reps with a body weight exercise. I'll use the pull-up for the sake of this discussion. The first school looks at the muscle groups involved in the pull-up and sets up a workout of exercises that target each muscle group.
So you're looking at sets of isolation exercises on top of everything else you're doing in the workout. That's fine if you don't have a job and your recovery and nutrition are stellar. However, even if you do have those luxuries, it's still not ideal.
From a neurological perspective it's wise to make the muscles contract in a way that's specific to the exercise. The pull-up, or any other movement, requires a precise firing combination during different phases of the movement. This is called a motor pattern. The lats aren't always maximally involved throughout a pull-up. Neither are the biceps or rhomboids since they fire at different rates at different joint angles.
A straight-arm lat pulldown is a good exercise but it doesn't challenge the lats exactly like a pull-up does. This, by the way, is why leg curls have little to no impact on boosting your sprinting performance.
But don't misinterpret what I'm saying. When the goal is maximal strength or hypertrophy with strength, you must do exercises that strengthen key muscle groups. The glute-ham raise is great for boosting your squat, and the lying triceps extension is effective for increasing your bench press.
However, when the goal is to increase the number of reps with a specific exercise, it's imperative to develop the nervous system with practice — perfect practice. Getting big and strong for the sake of being big and strong isn't the same as achieving 20 pull-ups for the first time. The second school of thought relies on the law of repetition, which states that practicing an exercise more often will boost your performance.
It does so faster than isolation exercises because you're training the motor pattern, not just the muscles. Each time you repeat the motor pattern it makes that neurological blueprint stronger as a result of feedback and feed-forward mechanisms. This is why it's essential to always do each rep with perfect form.
Only perfect reps enhance the motor pattern, and that's key to elevating your reps. Even a slight shift in technique swinging or kicking your legs will not enhance the ideal motor pattern as effectively as doing it with perfect form.
This brings me to an important part of boosting your reps with any body weight exercise: you must be able to perform at least six perfect reps right from the start.
I frequently hear statements such as, "I can only do two pull-ups so I'm using your HFT plan to increase them. You'll end up doing crappy reps that will, in turn, enhance the wrong motor pattern. Here are the parameters for adding reps to a body weight exercise. Again, you must be able to perform at least six perfect reps for HFT to work. At the end of four weeks take full days off from the exercise and retest your maximum rep performance.
It's common to double your reps in one month. Why the discrepancy between methods? It's about intensity and recovery. The closer you are to your one-repetition maximum 1RM , the more recovery you'll need due to CNS fatigue. That's why you need two days off per week if your starting point is closer to your 1RM. If you can only do six pull-ups it's obviously much more taxing on your CNS than a body weight exercise you can do for 25 reps.
Being farther from your 1RM allows you to train more frequently without overtraining. If you can do 60 push-ups, and your goal is , you could easily do one set every day for three weeks straight and probably add a rep each day. This is not the case with exercises that put more stress on your CNS.
Those exercises require more recovery, hence an extra day of rest each week. What about lifting speed? When the goal is endurance, you don't need to worry about it. You can't add endurance to high-threshold motor units so there's no need to tap into them. Lift with a moderate tempo and crank out as many reps as possible. Most of the people who add HFT into their program are looking to add size to a specific muscle group — calves, biceps, forearms, etc.
It works awesome, if you do it at the right time. When should you add HFT to your program? When you're on a muscle-gaining nutrition cycle. In other words, you must be getting plenty of calories and sleep. HFT and the Velocity Diet don't mix. You'll need to add extra calories per day when you incorporate a HFT exercise into your current routine.
This is on top of the extra calories you should already be feeding your body on a muscle-gaining diet.
How to Add Muscle Quickly
I spent the better part of extolling its virtues with some real-world observations. At the beginning of this year I unleashed Bodybuilding's Next Frontier. No system of mine has accumulated more positive feedback from the muscle building community. I love that system like a hooker loves a guy's midlife crisis. My HFT Hollywood soundbite goes like this: it's a high performance bodybuilding system that supercharges your fitness capacity. Specifically, I define HFT as training a body part more than four times per week.
High Frequency Training
I recently received a question from a reader about training frequency. He had such great success building muscle on my High Frequency Training HFT program that it changed his views regarding the dogma between training frequency and recovery. While most traditional training programs have you train a muscle group or movement times per week, HFT doubles or triples that amount. Because the intensity of each workout changes over the weeks and months. Not every exercise of every workout is taken to maximum intensity and exhaustion. The reason? Because the periodization and progressions are built into the program.
Build Your Own HFT Program [Waterbury].pdf
Chad Waterbury and I "met" about 12 years ago through the interwebs. Back then he had long flowing locks and wrote for T Nation on the regular while I was testing his encouragement of following his popular program of 10 sets of 3 reps. Since then Chad has been living in Santa Monica, Ca. He has immersed himself in bodyweight training by getting coaching from a Russian Gymnastics Olympic Coach, is about to embark on his PhD journey and he no longer has the hair of The Mighty Thor.
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