How the Frequency Progression Works

Here’s one truism we can all agree on: your body doesn’t want to build muscle unless it’s absolutely necessary. A muscle must be challenged to work harder so your physiology has no choice but to manufacture new muscle tissue to adapt to the demand.

Exercise variety is important and necessary to offset overuse injuries, but merely switching from a standing barbell curl to a dumbbell hammer curl won’t do anything to spark new growth in your biceps. This is true for training any muscle group.

You might get sore when you switch to a new exercise, but that’s mainly because the muscle is being challenged in a different way: it doesn’t mean the muscle has to grow to meet the demand. A better strategy is to find a free weight or body weight exercise that you like, and increase the frequency of training that movement over the course of 4-6 weeks.

Frequency Progression

What it’s best for: muscle growth.

Explanation: we all know that increasing the load of a movement is great for building strength, and some muscle growth will follow. However, I’ve found that the fastest growth occurs when you significantly increase the weekly training volume for that muscle group.

Let’s take two guys (Jim and Tim) that perform the pull-up, as an example. Jim weighs 180 pounds and does the pull-up twice per week for 6×4 with an extra 30 pounds of weight attached to a chin/dip belt. You can calculate his weekly training volume with this equation: load x total reps = volume.┬áSince his load is 210 pounds and his total reps are 48, his weekly volume is 10,080.

He’s been feeling pretty strong so the following week he adds 10 more pounds to the chin/dip belt. Now his weekly training volume for the pull-up is 10,560 (220 pounds x 48 reps).

In other words, Jim’s weekly training volume increased 5%.

Tim weighs 210 pounds and has been doing a body weight pull-up for 6×4 twice per week. Therefore, his weekly volume was the same as Jim’s first week: 10,080. Tim has been feeling strong too, but instead of adding an extra 10 pounds to a chin/dip belt he decides to add an extra pull-up workout, thus increasing his training frequency to three times per week.┬áSo if we plug in the numbers for Tim’s second week we get a volume of 15,120 (210 pounds x 72 reps).

In other words, by simply adding one extra body weight pull-up workout Tim increased his training volume by 50%!

So which method do you think would send a stronger signal for new muscle growth: a 5% increase in weekly volume or a 50% increase? Yep, you know the answer.

The irony is that it’s easier to add an extra pull-up workout than it is to strain like hell with more load to achieve the same 6×4 workout.

Now, I must state that for maximal strength gains you must focus on adding load to your workouts. But when fast muscle growth is the goal it makes perfect sense to increase the frequency for that movement because it results in a significantly higher weekly volume.

Exceptions to the frequency progression are a barbell squat, bench press and deadlift. However, use the frequency progression for any upper body lift or single-leg exercise and you will build new muscle more quickly.

How to use it: add one extra workout per week for the lagging body part. Perform around 25 total reps with a load that allows 6-8 reps per set. Keep adding one extra workout for that movement for 4-6 weeks straight.

For a complete system that incorporates the muscle-building power of high frequency training (HFT), click the banner below:

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4 Ways to Burn Fat during the Holidays

With the holidays coming up, it’s essential to keep your waistline in check. I’m sure that ringing in the new year with extra midsection mass is the last thing you want. So if you want to know how to get ripped before 2013, follow these four steps.

1. Consume Organic Chia Seeds Before Meals – according to folklore, Aztec warriors consumed chia seeds to help with strength and stamina. Whether that’s true or not is irrelevant: chia seeds are an excellent food. They contain plenty of omega-3s, vitamins and trace minerals. The unique nutritional profile of chia seeds will improve your strength, endurance, recovery and sleep.

The key to losing fat is to incorporate foods that are low in calories while being densely packed with nutrients. Chia seeds fit the bill perfectly. The digestive support they provide, along with five grams of fiber per tablespoon, makes them a natural and effective appetite suppressant.

How to use: mix one tablespoon of organic chia seeds in water and let them sit for a few minutes in order to “bloom.” Once the seeds have expanded, drink the liquid 15 minutes before two meals each day. It’s good to chew the seeds as you’re drinking the mixture. The other option is to use ground chia seeds, but you must chug it down as soon as you put the tablespoon in water because it’ll gel quickly. You want that gel effect to happen in your stomach.

2. Eat Organic Raspberries Between Meals – for years I’ve talked about the importance of eating berries when fat loss is your goal. Much like chia seeds, they contain a big dose of nutrients with minimal calories. All berries are excellent, but when it comes to fat loss, red and black raspberries rank highest in my book. There are two reasons.

First, raspberries contain the highest levels of ellagic acid of all berries. This is an important phytochemical that has anti-estrogenic, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects. Second, raspberries also have the highest fiber content of any berry, and this is essential to stave off hunger. My clients are amazed by the hunger-curbing effect of just six ounces of raspberries between meals, whether they eat one meal per day or more.

How to use: raspberries come in a small, six-ounce container at virtually every supermarket. Eat one container’s worth of raspberries once or twice each day when you’re most hungry.

3. Eat Veggies and Protein First – I’m a guy who really likes to eat food, and I’m not talking about boiled fish with white rice. Pasta and potatoes are frequently part of my main meal at night. Now, both of those foods can wreak havoc on your waistline if you eat too much at the wrong time.

So when you sit down for one of your holiday meals that grandma worked so hard to prepare, the last thing you want to do is insult her by keeping that sweet potato casserole off your plate. The trick is to eat vegetables first since they’ll start to fill you up fastest without inducing a large insulin response. Second, eat the majority of your protein source to also provide satiety while keeping insulin in check.

At this point in the meal if you eat carbs the insulin response will be blunted by the vegetables and protein that came before it. And best of all, you’ll eat significantly less carbs because you won’t be ravenously hungry. Your abs will be happy, and so will grandma.

4. Use HFT to Stay Lean – burning fat primarily hinges on nutrition, that’s why the first three steps focus on it. However, there are simple training strategies you can follow during the holidays to keep you lean. One of the best steps is to train more frequently around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Now, this doesn’t require more trips to the gym. For example, most people skip training on Thanksgiving day, but this is the day when your muscles should have the highest insulin sensitivity so the food you eat will go into your muscles instead of your fat cells.

A simple body weight workout that will help you stay lean during the holidays is: 100 push-ups, 100 lying leg raises and 100 lunges (50 with each leg). These reps should be spread throughout the day into three or four mini-workouts. For example, when a commercial comes on during an NFL game, knock off 25 push-ups, 25 leg raises and 12 or 13 lunges with each leg. Do this four times during the day and you’ll significantly improve insulin sensitivity.

Even better, use the holidays to add muscle to your underdeveloped muscle groups as covered in my new training system, High Frequency Training. The targeted HFT plans for muscle growth require little to no equipment and the mini-workouts take just a few minutes. With HFT, you’ll make better use of those extra holiday calories by providing growth and repair instead of fat gain.

Stay Focused,