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The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
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Basil Ransom Offline
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Post: #1
The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
The most popular bodybuilding and strength training regimes typically have you targeting a muscle group 1-3 times a week with using maximum or near maximum weight for the given number of reps.

I've experimented with another method that I've benefited from. I've heard it called the frequency method* as well as the 'greasing the groove' method.

The Method:
  • Rep Scheme: You do 50-75% of your maximum reps for a given weight or difficulty. After each set you finish, you should feel a pump, but also like you could crank out several more reps with ease, and that you could four more of an identical set without issue.

    Rest Period: You do the sets scattered throughout the day, or with a couple minutes of rest between them - enough to rest to ensure you never quite feel fatigued at all. You can take a day off each week if you like. If you've been increasing the rep count or difficulty aggressively, and start to feel overtrained, consider taking a couple days off and reducing the difficulty a bit.

    Exercise Selection: Typically you'd use bodyweight exercises, which are very effective at enhancing your natural motor patterns. You also incorporate your local environment, and whatever tools you may have there. It could be jug shrugs at the water cooler, or tree branch pullups. The point is not to get a perfect maximal workout, but to use your muscles frequently and adequately.

    The most important thing to know is you don't go to failure. When training a muscle six or seven times a week, you'd end up overtraining it if you were going to failure daily.

The advantage of this approach:
  • 1. You can do it whenever you have a minute free.
    2. You're doing a high volume of a lift without ever compromising your form. Usually, bad form only creeps in when muscular failure is near, and you stay far from failure. So you get really familiar with doing the lift and doing it well, which will enhance your strength and your 'mind-muscle connection.'
    3. You don't have to add yet another exercise to your gym workout.
    4. You may have more energy throughout the day thanks to the light resistance and plentiful rest.

The frequency method lets you target muscles outside of your regular workout, at a leisurely pace. It's not something to replace your workout, but to supplement it when you have a spare minute here and there during the day.

Take pushups - say you can do a maximum of 20. Then you might do 10-15 in a set, three or four times a day. As the days pass, you add a rep to each set. You don't increase the number of reps every day, because then your sets would have so many reps then you'd be getting close to reps to failure, which is *not* what you want. It's far more important to do the sets week in, week out then to increase the difficulty. Your prime concern is doing the sets without overtraining, and increasing the difficulty when you're ready for it. You're going to be doing this for months or years, and your gains will accumulate over time. It's about having a habit for life, and not getting big quick.

Once you get up to 15 or 20 reps in an exercise, you switch to a more difficult variation, load more weight onto it, or superset it with another exercise that works the same muscle group. For pushups, that could mean you go slower, do diamond pushups, incline pushups, dive bombers, shoulder pushups (where your torso is perpendicular to your legs and your feet are closer to your hands), jumping pushups, band pushups, etc.

Because you're not doing these in a gym, keep an eye out for places in your daily life where you can do these lifts. Install a pullup bar. Get familiar with all the many pushup variations. Look into resistance bands (I'm not there yet). Look for more obscure exercises, eg:









You can do those against the edge of a desk, either on their own or right after a set of diamond pushups.

On the recommendation of the Greyskull training program, I started doing pushups daily. I was already benching bodyweight and change for reps, but in conjunction with the Greyskull lifting program, I added about 25-30 lbs to my bench. Doing the pushups daily refined my motor patterns, and also taught me how to contract my lats and 'absorb' the weight of the barbell into them, and then spring it back up.

Doing an exercise *daily,* as opposed to once or twice a week, will teach you a movement much quicker - even if you had been doing that movement for a while, as I had with the bench press.

I'm looking into doing these to hit the more ancillary muscle groups, instead of trying to squeeze them into a workout where I'm already consumed with big barbell lifts. Or just getting familiar with the more difficult pushup variations.

Has anyone else used these to great effect?

This method is closer to how a manual laborer exercises - there's more frequency at lower intensity. It's also a common technique for boosting your pullup count, but it's not used nearly as much for other lifts. A lot of the bodyweight fanatics only do bodyweight, instead of offering a way to incorporate bodyweight exercises as a supplement to a barbell training program.

Cliffs: Hit your muscles daily with a couple exercises at a low intensity, far from failure. An addition to, not replacement of, your gym workout.

*heard that from John Sheaffer aka Johnny Pain
(This post was last modified: 06-07-2014 11:58 AM by Basil Ransom.)
06-07-2014 11:21 AM
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Dulceácido Offline
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Post: #2
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
This is a cool way to do business. It's about being a well-rounded athlete and not just a bodybuilder. There a lots of guys who can crush weights in the gym, but take them to an obstacle course and watch how silly they look.

It's also why Steel Workers/Carpenters/Construction Workers, etc. who have never hit a gym in their lives have crushing grips (Old Man Hands) and are strong as all get-outs.

I'm not a businessman; I'm a business, Man
06-07-2014 11:28 AM
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Ryre Offline
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Post: #3
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
I did something along the same lines for awhile: a program in which you pick 5 exercises (large, multi-joint movements you want to get stronger on), and do 2 sets of 5 every day. But not hard sets, just however heavy you feel you can go that day without straining. If you are tired one day, use lighter weight, but still do the routine to keep greasing the grove. On days you feel strong, add weight. You wind up being able to increase what you are lifting without straining...the weights just start to feel lighter.

The program is laid out here: http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_arti...rogram&cr=
06-07-2014 11:38 AM
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lovejoy Offline
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Post: #4
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
We used to do this all the time, it was called "manual labor"
06-07-2014 06:43 PM
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berserk Offline
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Post: #5
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
Convict Conditioning program in other words?

I am not convinced bodyweight is going to add considerable size, but it would work well for maintaining while traveling. It could work well if you already have a good base of size and strength which would give you a leaner more wiry look.

If it comes to that, I'd just try to do chinups, bicep pullups and dips (can be done on edge of bed). Those can be done all the time, every day and gives a pretty good upper body workout.
06-08-2014 01:43 AM
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Mongo Offline
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Post: #6
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
Chad Waterbury has written several articles on it. I've used it with decent success before. I like using pull-ups, just put a bar up in your doorway at home and crank a set out everytime you walk by.
06-08-2014 08:20 AM
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nogamenick Offline
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Post: #7
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
I don't see how this will add any significant strength or mass gains.
Building mass is all about diet. We all know the calorie in vs calorie out story by now. Building mass is all about tension. You want to strain the muscle in order for it to grow. Typically 40 seconds of tension.

Pehaps a better way to take this would be to take the push-ups for example and then time yourself. Don't lock out. keep the tension on for at least 40 seconds. This might help for some time but eventually you'll just have to hit the gym.

For getting lean and cutting fat this routine would be pretty bad. When being in a calorie deficit, your body will start to burn muscle. You have to lift HEAVY to remind the body that you need these muscles. So lifting bodyweight won't do much for you.

I don't see how this will help with strength because the key to strength is overload. A small number of reps with a really heavy weight.

Before I ever hit the gym I used to do stuff like this routine at home in combination with my kung fu training for minor conditioning. Eventually you have to go to the gym.
06-08-2014 09:12 AM
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lovejoy Offline
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Post: #8
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
(06-08-2014 09:12 AM)nogamenick Wrote:  I don't see how this will add any significant strength or mass gains.
Building mass is all about diet. We all know the calorie in vs calorie out story by now. Building mass is all about tension. You want to strain the muscle in order for it to grow. Typically 40 seconds of tension.

Pehaps a better way to take this would be to take the push-ups for example and then time yourself. Don't lock out. keep the tension on for at least 40 seconds. This might help for some time but eventually you'll just have to hit the gym.

For getting lean and cutting fat this routine would be pretty bad. When being in a calorie deficit, your body will start to burn muscle. You have to lift HEAVY to remind the body that you need these muscles. So lifting bodyweight won't do much for you.

I don't see how this will help with strength because the key to strength is overload. A small number of reps with a really heavy weight.

Before I ever hit the gym I used to do stuff like this routine at home in combination with my kung fu training for minor conditioning. Eventually you have to go to the gym.

Gymnast work outs are nearly all bodyweight, I think this build is pretty impressive [Image: male_gymnastbackshot.jpg]
06-08-2014 10:40 AM
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Mongo Offline
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Post: #9
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
(06-08-2014 09:12 AM)nogamenick Wrote:  I don't see how this will add any significant strength or mass gains.
Building mass is all about diet. We all know the calorie in vs calorie out story by now. Building mass is all about tension. You want to strain the muscle in order for it to grow. Typically 40 seconds of tension.

Pehaps a better way to take this would be to take the push-ups for example and then time yourself. Don't lock out. keep the tension on for at least 40 seconds. This might help for some time but eventually you'll just have to hit the gym.

For getting lean and cutting fat this routine would be pretty bad. When being in a calorie deficit, your body will start to burn muscle. You have to lift HEAVY to remind the body that you need these muscles. So lifting bodyweight won't do much for you.

I don't see how this will help with strength because the key to strength is overload. A small number of reps with a really heavy weight.

Before I ever hit the gym I used to do stuff like this routine at home in combination with my kung fu training for minor conditioning. Eventually you have to go to the gym.

There is a lot of science and anecdotal evidence that goes against what you are saying. Frequency is a great tool for increasing size/strength, which is why professional Olympic lifters do 12+ workouts per week.

First, for size purposes the increases reps IS increased time under tension. Sure, 40 seconds of tension per set might be the optimal time under tension for hypertrophy, but it is also extremely taxing. However spreading some extra reps throughout the day allows you to have additional time under tension, albeit less taxing so you can recover quicker. Thus your cumulative time under tension for a muscle group goes up, meaning increased gains.

For cutting purposes it still works well because it is a minimally taxing method for increasing your metabolism and keeping your muscles active. The way you build muscle is by activating mTOR, and you activate mTOR by placing the muscles under stress i.e. exercise. So by doing a handful of sets of pushups throughout the day you keep muscle synthesis levels up, increase your metabolism causing you to burn more calories, thereby helping you lean out quicker.

In regards to strength gains, the increased frequency allows you to practice a movement repeatedly, engraining the motor pattern, which makes you more efficient at performing it. Increased motor unit efficiency leads to increased strength. Ever notice how when you first try a new exercise or one you haven't done in awhile, you see the biggest jumps in strength in the first 3-4 weeks, then it gets harder and harder to add reps/weight? That is because your body in becoming more efficient at the movement. The muscular strength gains are minimal. The muscles are strong enough, they just aren't efficient.

Hopefully this helps and makes sense. Let me know if it doesn't. Strength and conditioning is my passion/career, and I'd like to help members on here any way I can.
06-08-2014 10:53 AM
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Basil Ransom Offline
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Post: #10
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
Mongo, thanks for chiming in. This method is a great way to get more volume and get the movement patterns down without compromising your gym workouts at all. It's a totally different training modality than most people use, yet can be added to most lifting programs without issue.

I find it most useful for either (1) training a movement pattern that targets a major muscle group and aids a corresponding lift, like pushups and the bench press or (2) targeting a muscle that is inadequtely trained by your gym workout, eg your triceps or calves. If you're doing mostly big lifts, the smaller muscles can easily get left behind, and all you'll have is a big chest and a big ass and thighs.

For those triceps and calves, both muscles I've neglected, you can do sets of one legged stair calf raises, and diamond pushups. Simple, quick, and can be done anywhere. And because it's so easy to integrate into your life, it's okay if it takes a little longer to get the gains you'd get otherwise from training to failure or near failure.

This method is commonly touted for pullups, but I think it works for everything, and the principle is identical. Several 50% to failure sets day in and day out. With this level of intensity your body quickly recovers yet still progresses. When manual laborers get bigger and stronger, it's because of work that roughly follows these patterns - they don't lift something huge and then check out of work for the rest of the week.
(This post was last modified: 06-08-2014 12:20 PM by Basil Ransom.)
06-08-2014 12:16 PM
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nogamenick Offline
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Post: #11
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
Thanks for clearing that up! I tend to overlook the "taxing" thing as there is nothing more I love than hitting the gym. I often take this for granted. Not everyone feels the same way. I suppose this could work for people.
06-08-2014 12:28 PM
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Mongo Offline
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Post: #12
RE: The Frequency Method: Training the Same Muscle *Daily* For Strength & Mass Gains
(06-08-2014 12:28 PM)nogamenick Wrote:  Thanks for clearing that up! I tend to overlook the "taxing" thing as there is nothing more I love than hitting the gym. I often take this for granted. Not everyone feels the same way. I suppose this could work for people.

No problem. If you want a better explanation and actual program to follow, this is one of Waterbury's articles I was referring to. It was also my first exposure to HFT.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_arti..._challenge
06-08-2014 01:00 PM
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