Effects of training frequency on muscular strength for trained men under volume matched conditions

PeerJ. 2021 Feb 18:9:e10781. doi: 10.7717/peerj.10781. eCollection 2021.


Background: In resistance training, the role of training frequency to increase maximal strength is often debated. However, the limited data available does not allow for clear training frequency "optimization" recommendations. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of training frequency on maximal muscular strength and rate of perceived exertion (RPE). The total weekly training volume was equally distributed between two and four sessions per muscle group.

Methods: Twenty-one experienced resistance-trained male subjects (height: 1.85 ± 0.06 m, body mass: 85.3 ± 12.3 kg, age: 27.6 ± 7.6 years) were tested prior to and after an 8-week training period in one-repetition maximum (1RM) barbell back squat and bench press. Subjects were randomly assigned to a SPLIT group (n = 10), in which there were two training sessions of squats and lower-body exercises and two training sessions of bench press and upper-body exercises, or a FULLBODY group (n = 11), in which four sessions with squats, bench press and supplementary exercises were conducted every session. In each session, the subjects rated their RPE after barbell back squat, bench press, and the full session.

Results: Both groups significantly increased 1RM strength in barbell back squat (SPLIT group: +13.25 kg; FULLBODY group: +14.31 kg) and bench press (SPLIT group: +7.75 kg; FULLBODY group: +8.86 kg) but training frequency did not affect this increase for squat (p = 0.640) or bench press (p = 0.431). Both groups showed a significant effect for time on RPE on all three measurements. The analyses showed only an interaction effect between groups on time for the RPE after the squat exercise (p = 0.002).

Conclusion: We conclude that there are no additional benefits of increasing the training frequency from two to four sessions under volume-equated conditions, but it could be favorable to spread the total training volume into several training bouts through the week to avoid potential increases in RPE, especially after the squat exercise.

Keywords: Bench press; RPE; Rate of perceived exertion; Squats.

Grants and funding

The authors received no funding for this work.