Training Frequency and Muscle Growth: What the Latest Research Tells Us About Maximizing Your Gains

Training Frequency and Muscle Growth: What the Latest Research Tells Us About Maximizing Your Gains

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

Training frequency, or how often you train a particular muscle group, is a critical aspect of any strength training or muscle-building program. But how does it influence muscle growth, and what’s the optimal frequency for maximizing gains? This article explores what the latest research tells us about the relationship between training frequency and muscle growth.

Understanding Training Frequency

Training frequency refers to how often you train a particular muscle group within a certain period, typically a week. It’s one of the main variables in workout programming, along with volume (sets x reps x weight) and intensity (the amount of weight relative to your maximum strength).

The Frequency-Muscle Growth Relationship

Historically, the traditional bodybuilding approach advocated for a “bro-split” routine, where each muscle group is trained once per week with a high volume. However, more recent research suggests that training a muscle group more frequently could lead to greater muscle growth.

This notion is based on the concept of muscle protein synthesis (MPS), a natural process where the body overcompensates for the damage to muscle fibers caused by resistance training by adding new muscle tissue. MPS is elevated after training, but it doesn’t remain elevated indefinitely. Research indicates that MPS rates return to baseline levels within 48 hours following a resistance training session.

In theory, this suggests that training a muscle group at least twice a week could take advantage of these elevated MPS levels more frequently, potentially leading to greater muscle growth over time.

What Does the Research Say?

Several studies have explored the impact of training frequency on muscle growth. A meta-analysis by Schoenfeld et al. (2016) found that higher training frequencies were associated with greater muscle hypertrophy. This suggests that training a muscle group two times per week could lead to more significant muscle growth than training it once per week, assuming volume is equated.

It’s important to note that while research indicates a potential advantage of higher training frequencies for muscle growth, the difference may not be substantial for everyone. Individual factors like genetics, nutrition, recovery capacity, stress levels, and training experience can significantly influence muscle growth.

Practical Applications

For most individuals, training a muscle group 2-3 times per week seems to be a sweet spot for maximizing muscle growth. This could be achieved through full-body workouts, upper/lower splits, or push/pull/legs splits, depending on your preference and schedule.

However, it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. If you find that you’re unable to recover adequately with a higher frequency, it may be beneficial to decrease your training frequency or volume.


While training frequency is a crucial variable for muscle growth, it’s not the only factor. Total volume, intensity, nutrition, recovery, and individual genetic factors also play significant roles. Therefore, it’s essential to consider all these factors when designing a workout program. As always, individual variation is substantial, so what works best for one person may not work as well for another. Always consider consulting with a fitness professional to create a personalized training program that aligns with your specific needs and goals.