Can you Train the SAME Muscle Every Workout (Part 2)

HFT Picture 1(Part 2)

In our last blog we talked about the evidence we see of some people just seeming to break the rules when when it comes to building muscle so quickly

Let’s go over HOW we can manipulate that to take advantage of those gains.

 

Progressive Overload

This term is coined in the fitness industry as gradual increases, overtime, of stress the muscle is placed under in exercise.Meaning that each workout is a little harder or a little heavier to ensure that you keep the muscle developing and growing.

Lets say that you did a bench press of 135 for 10 reps this week, so next week you will need to progress the workout a notch more challenging. That could be by doing 135 for 11 reps or 140 for 10 reps, doing another set, etc… either way you’ll need to change something.

This is going to be the cornerstone of our program.

So from this point further each and every workout needs to be taken up a notch for the muscle that you are wanting to grow.

 

High Frequency Training

Now this program and terminology was popularized by Chad Waterbury’s e-book HFT, a must read for anyone really wanting to learn more of the ins and outs of this because what I’m about to go over is a modified version that we have been implementing at our studio, but I will attribute Chad’s book as the main foundation of this style of programming we do when we have to bring up a clients lagging bodypart.

HFT is a system where you work a movement, or muscle group, four or more times a week with each workout placing the muscle under a progressively more demanding workload.

An example:

One of the more popular muscle groups that I hear that my clients say is they want is a bigger chest, trust me I’ve heard this from women too but there are limitations even we can do with that in the gym :-p

A number of our people that need this style of training aren’t your typical beginner they are more of the seasoned gym goer that has worked out for a while but is stuck so I know they have some of the basic foundations of strength and endurance.

For this person I would pick dips to help maximize chest development

So built into their program workout  one is going to consist of 50 dips, NOW… I don’t care how many sets it takes them to hit 50 (but it should be somewhere around 2-4) they just need to accomplish 50 dips.

Then workout two they will add a rep AND (here is THE reason this works) change the hand placement of the dip. So if workout 1 had them doing 50 reps of dips with their hands wide then workout 2 will have them doing 51 dips with their hands close.

Were not done yet. Workout 3 we will add ANOTHER rep, think of the term progressive overload, and change up the placement again to do dips on the rings with palms facing behind them, and workout 4 will be ANOTHER variation of form with ring dips, hands neutral all while adding an additional rep.

Now following week we go back to workout one hands wide dips for 54 reps.

 

Things to note:

  • We added ONLY 1 rep each workout.

  • We change the movement pattern slightly to hit the fibers at a different angle.

 

Ok, so what the heck did we just do?HFT | Fitness Revolution Rowlett

What we did was focus on small incremental increases in workload for the muscle all the while changing the angle from which we did the exercise.

The overall goal of this is that we are breaking down the muscle JUST ENOUGH that we cause the physiological response necessary for growth (Remember MGF) by constantly ensuring that we are doing more work volume than last workout.

An example of work volume, and this is what I consider the important unit that we measure our workouts by:

Let say your doing dips and you weight 180lbs so for every rep you do you are moving 180lbs, if you complete 20 reps then you have essentially moved 3600lbs in that set (ya… bet you feel like a bada** now lol)

Well for this workout we had the person start with 50 dips (I’ll explain why that number later) so their total workload for that exercise was 9,000lbs. The following workout they did one more rep of dips (51 total) which thus brought their total work volume to 9,180lbs for that workout, then we follow the same formula for 52 reps… and the trend continues.

Right now you probably have some questions so let me address some of the popular ones before we move on.
 

How many workouts can I do in a week?

The sweet spot we have been finding is 4 times a week. We have experimented with up to 7 but this all depends on your personal life and rate of recovery.

If you recover VERY fast, you know who you are, then you can train more often but most of the gym junkies we have tend to respond better to 4 sometimes 5 times a week.
 

How do I change the angle that I’m working the muscle?

This really isn’t as hard as people make it out to be, hand placement is usually the easiest way to do this. Wide, close, neutral, pro or supinated, just as long as you are not lifting the EXACT same way as last workout you’ll see the results.

 

What exercises are best for (insert body part)?

I can tell you some my favorite ones but I’m sure that you’ll find some of your own.

HFT Exercises

 

The point that I would like to emphasize is that each exercise has different angle and variations they are not locked into a specific pattern

With that said here a few rules when picking your exercises:

  • – No machines – Even if you alter hand placement machines have too much of a fixed pattern, you need to remember that machine was not built for YOU.

  • – Nothing that stresses the tendons – Anything that puts your tendons under excessive stress or stretching may not be best. Skull crushers have been known to stress the tendon more so than say a dip or push up.

  • – Limited isolation movements – I’ve seen better biceps development from pull ups than from concentration curls; it does not mean you can’t do it but do include a compound movement in your program

 

How many reps should I start with?

That’s always been a question that I’ve found it hard to find that answer to, so instead I choose to look at it from a percentage standpoint.

We want to keep the weight and rep range about 60% of your 1RM or a rep range around 12-20 per set/attempt.

 

Do I ONLY have to add one rep at a time or can I do more?

I’ve played with this one a bit and you can add more but again this all depends on your recovery.

We’ve found that one to two reps added per workout cause just enough damage to still elicit the MGF response and still allows us to recover fairly quickly. When we tried adding more we noticed that people couldn’t recover enough and were too broken down. They would still get results but not as quickly.

Experiment and see what works for you but remember just as long as you do at least one more rep than last workout you’ll get the results you are wanting.

 

Can I do HFT on the same days as my “other” workouts?

Again this is going to depend on recovery and your body.

I have some clients who can do certain HFT programs in conjunction with their training but I have found that it depends on the program.

Below is an example of an HFT chest program we have built for a client that has one heavy push session a week. For him we have found that heavy push session really taxes his muscles and leaves him feeling VERY sore for a day or two afterwards so doing HFT on that day wasn’t the best. He still gets his chest worked four times a week but one is a heavy bench day and the others are just HFT for growth.

If you were to do an HFT program say for your calves I’m confident that won’t get in the way of some other routines, except cardio could be a bit painful when you start.

HFT Example
(here is an example of a HFT workout I have one of my clients doing, we brought this down to three days a week since he has a heavy push session each week)

 

How long can I do HFT for?

We’ve found that most people will eventually tap out at about 4-5 week marker. When you reach that point I would recommend backing off that exercise or even muscle group for 7-10 days just to let your body and nervous system get a little bit more time to heal.

Even though the benefit of this style of training is increased frequency eventually your body just needs a break.

After a week off you can pick another muscle or movement to work on.

Don’t be fearful about losing any gains you made during this either, as long as you are still engaging the muscle in some way you’ll keep your development.

 

What to do now?

Ok now that was a LOT of information so your head may be swimming with, “ok, now what the heck do I do?”

I’ll make this simple on you

You can build and excel sheet (recommend) to keep track of your volume throughout the weeks (recommend) but I’m sure that some of you have had enough of blinking cursors and don’t want to have to look at a piece of paper, or your phones, to see what you have to do.

If that is the case then I want you to go to the above list of exercises and pick ONE to add into your program.

Do as many reps with YOUR exercise that you picked in three sets (make sure that your first set that you’re getting in 15-20 reps) and remember the total reps you did of those three sets.

Now… here is the easy part.

Just do 1 more rep than that for your next session (should average about every other day), then you add another rep for the third workout and so on.

Do this for 4-6 weeks adding in a rep each time you do that exercise that week.

REMEMBER to change the exercise variation each workout as well, that is the KEY to the program.

 

Here is a general timeline of what you can expect to feel over the coming weeks.

Week 1: Oh this is easy but I’m getting a good pump every workout.

Week 2: I think my muscle is bigger! Send Travis an email saying thanks

Week 3: Holy crap this hurts.. (Too sore to send me an email but you are thinking bad thoughts).

Week 4: Achy pain. The pain is then worth sending me an angry email telling me how horrible of a person I am for having you do this

Week 5: Your thinking well this has gotten easier and I’m a chap at ‘said’ movement

Week 6: Go buy newer cloths because your old ones just don’t fit the same way.

 

Ya… your welcome 😉

 

One More Thing

Before I stop with this ridiculously long blog something that you’re going to want to take into account is that you’ll be working out a lot so preparation and recovery is a MUST for you to help survive this.

Before EVERY HFT session make sure that you lacrosse ball the target muscles and STRETCH the heck out of it when your done. If you happen to forget you’ll understand why the next session.

I would also recommend increasing your fish oil consumption to aid in the recovery process.

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In Health and Awesomeness,

Travis Signature 300x62 Can You Train the Same Muscle Every Workout?

Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other cool letters behind the name) is the Owner of Fitness Revolution in Rowlett, TX.

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Comments

  1. Would this training still be effective if you varied the grip within each workout instead of per workout. For example if I did 45 reps of pulls ups over three sets but used neutral grip, then chin up grip, then pull grip all in one workout and repeated the same workout five times a week adding the two reps each time? (I’m using an assisted pull up machine as I can’t do full pull ups yet and dropping 5kg off the stack every three weeks). Thanks

    • Pretty much that’s exactly what I had a client of mine do, which was to vary the grip each set. It doesn’t take much grip variacne to activate different fibers. A couple of things that have learned with doing this one pull ups that may help you: only add 1 rep a workout, I tried more than one and it got to where people were getting less and less reps per set, I found that 4 times a week was a sweet spot, ALWAYS pull with the back first not the arms.

      Let me know how this goes!

  2. Could you just drop your regular workout, pick a push, a pull, and a leg movement and use HFT for each?

    Thanks

    • Brett, from my experience over the past several years with this I have started using this in ADDITION to my routine for a short term not as a replacement. NOW… if you head over to Chad Waterbury’s site (www.chadwaterbury.com) he has done WAY more research on this than anyone I know; and he did create some routines based on what your asking. The guy is legit, when he speaks I listen so he’ll have your answer 🙂

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