Similar Muscular Adaptations in Resistance Training Performed Two Versus Three Days Per Week

J Hum Kinet. 2019 Aug 21;68:135-143. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2019-0062. eCollection 2019 Aug.

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to compare changes in muscle strength and hypertrophy between volume-equated resistance training (RT) performed 2 versus 3 times per week in trained men. Thirty-six resistance-trained men were randomly assigned to one of the two experimental groups: a split-body training routine (SPLIT) with muscle groups trained twice per week (n = 18) over four weekly sessions, or a total-body routine (TOTAL), with muscle groups being trained three times per week (n = 18) over three weekly sessions. The training intervention lasted 10 weeks. Testing was carried out pre- and post-study to assess maximal muscular strength in the back squat and bench press, and hypertrophic adaptations were assessed by measuring muscle thickness of the elbow flexors, elbow extensors, and quadriceps femoris. Twenty-eight subjects completed the study. Significant pre-to-post intervention increases in upper and lower-body muscular strength occurred in both groups with no significant between-group differences. Furthermore, significant pre-to-post intervention increases in muscle size of the elbow extensors and quadriceps femoris occurred in both groups with no significant between-group differences. No significant pre-to-post changes were observed for the muscle size of elbow flexors both in the SPLIT or TOTAL group. In conclusion, a training frequency of 2 versus 3 days per week produces similar increases in muscular adaptations in trained men over a 10-week training period. Nonetheless, effect size differences favored SPLIT for all hypertrophy measures, indicating a potential benefit for training two versus three days a week when the goal is to maximize gains in muscle mass.

Keywords: frequency; hypertrophy; strength training; volume.