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Upper Body vs. Lower Body Training Frequency

www.ironmanmagazine.comQ: In designing my training splits, would training legs twice a week and upper body three times a week be a practical approach?

A: It’s not that simple because frequency of training is muscle-group dependent. As an example, muscles that have a high percentage of fast-twitch fibers recover more slowly than muscles with a high percentage of slow-twitch fibers.

You used the example of upper body vs. lower body training frequency. Well, the soleus is a lower-body muscle that is composed predominantly of slow-twitch fibers and so may respond well to being trained three times a week.

The hamstrings are a predominantly fast-twitch group and respond better to two training sessions per week or perhaps just one.

There are many other factors affecting training frequency, but one idea that I’ll ask you to consider is that frequency of training should be individualized. Some trainees can handle prodigious training volumes, while others can handle only minimal volumes.

With my clients, I look at their training response in their workout diaries, and I increase or decrease their training frequency based on how fast they progress. I will add that, on average, it takes a good strength coach roughly six to eight weeks to determine what methodology works best for an individual.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most suc-cessful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit Also, see his ad on page 147.   IM

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