Tag Archives: High Frequency Training

Advanced Work Out

My favorite form of training is known as High Frequency Training (HFT). High Frequency Training is an advanced form of training which is often used to train multiple fitness qualities. These qualities include maximal strength, speed, cardiovascular endurance, strength endurance, and power. A fallacy that most trainees have is that they think they can just jump into a training program and expect results.

In order for a trainee to have long-term success, he or she must identify their individual weaknesses. The way I identify weaknesses is to first run a trainee through a workout which would measure multiple fitness qualities.

Take the following workout:

Circuit for time:
10 Push press, 75lbs
40 meter sprint
10 Medicine Ball Woodchops, 15lbs
40 meter sprint

This workout measures all the qualities mentioned earlier. By timing this workout, and observing what aspects of the workout take the longest to perform, or is the most difficult for the trainee, you would be able to build a routine by identifying weaknesses.

For example, lets say the trainee had difficulty performing 10 straight reps of the push press. There would be two problems associated with this: strength endurance and strength. First, can this person even lift 75lbs over their head? If the trainee starts struggling after the third or fourth rep, then we know it’s a problem of maximal strength. If, however the trainee has this difficulty at rep eight or nine, then it’s a problem of strength endurance. If this problem began after the 2nd or third round, then we know we have to work on recovery.

Fixing the Problems

Lets pretend that a trainee has problems with cardiovascular endurance and maximal strength, exclusively. Throwing everything to the side, you would first design a program solely to improve cardiovascular endurance. This program would most likely encompass running, jump roping, and other forms of high intensity exercises. Then you would develop a training program to help improve maximal strength. This routine would most likely use singles training or the 5×5 method to improve performance.

Lets take a look at a sample of both these programs.

SAMPLE CARDIOVASCULAR ENDURANCE PLAN

Monday

Run 2 miles for time

Wednesday

5 rounds of Jump Roping – 1 round is 3 minutes of work, with 1 minute of rest

Friday

5 rounds of Shadowboxing – 1 round is 3 minutes of work, with 1 minute of rest

SAMPLE MAXIMAL STRENGTH PLAN

Monday

5×5 Push Press

Wednesday

10×1 Deadlift

Friday

3×3 Bent – Over Row

Combining the Programs

Now, to improve both the qualities, you would simply combine the program. This would result in a two-week program, alternating with a Cardiovascular Endurance workout, and a Maximal Strength workout. We can also throw in some workouts that stress both factors in one workout.

But what happens when you need to train for more than one fitness quality. This is where high frequency training comes into play. Most athletes require more than two or three qualities to excel at their given sport. And often times in an attempt to improve at all of these qualities, an athlete runs into troubleby overtraining.

Developing the Schedule

I won’t hold back. Let me use all five strength qualities to develop an HFT schedule which would help an athlete improve at his given sport. Here are the strength qualities again:

Maximal Strength (MS)
Cardiovascular Endurance (CE)
Muscular Endurance (ME)
Power (P)
Speed (S)

The beauty of HFT is that you can combine training qualities into one singular workout. The following is a sample cycle of training that one can do:

Cycle One:

Day One: MS
Day Two: CE + ME
Day Three: P+S+MS
Day Four: CE+ME+P+S
Day Five: MS+CE+ME+P+S

The next cycle would start with CE. You would be able to develop 5 such cycles, or 25 days of training. How fast you complete a cycle will be based on the frequency of your training.

The Workouts

So lets now see what a sample training cycle would look like as workouts:

Day One:

10×1 Deadlift

Day Two:

High Octane Cardio

Day Three:

Power Clean and Press 5×5 – Time each set

Day Four:

200 Reps Dumbbell Swing for Time – Use a weight you can do for 10 reps

Day Five:

3 rounds for time:
Overhead Squat 5 reps
Double-Unders 10 reps
Pushups 20 reps

Naturally, these workouts are very simplified. I like to make them a little bit more interesting. But I hope that you can see the benefits of training at a high frequency. HFT does not mean that you perform the same style of training 7 days a week. It means that you use variations in your training methods, while still sticking to a program centered around improving weaknesses and achieving goals.

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The Biggest Flaw in Your Program: How to Choose the Right Training Frequency

Training frequency is probably one of the most talked, written, and blogged about topics out there. The main question is: How often should I train? There is no easy answer, and it’s tough shifting through all the various and conflicting information out there.

Lets first define training frequency. According to Charles Poliquin, training frequency is measured by the number of training sessions devoted to a given muscle group or lift per unit of time. Lets take this definition and plug it into an analysis of the following sample program:

Day One:

  • Pullups, 3×5
  • Pushups, 3×10
  • Bodyweight Squats, 3×20

Day Two:

  • Chinups, 3×8
  • Incline Pushups, 3×8
  • Lateral Lunges, 3×8

Day Three:

  • Mixed Grip Chins, 3×6
  • Hindu Pushups, 3×12
  • Squat Jumps, 3×8

In this example, if we’re looking at muscle groups, then we can claim that we’re training our chest, back, and legs, 3 days a week. If we look at movements, then we can claim that we’re training each movement once a week.

  • If your goal was to improve your pullups, then you’d probably get rid of the pullup variations and just focus on pullup for all three workouts.
  • If your goal was to improve your lower body mass, then incorporating a variety of different exercises makes sense. You might even want to throw in an extra lower body exercise.
  • If you goal is to improve your level of conditioning, then you’d want to perform the workouts as a circuit, and base training frequency solely on how fast you’re able to recover between workouts.

Training Frequency for Newbies

The biggest problem newbies make when designing a training program is over-estimating their ability to recover from a workout. They’ll be so excited about a new training program that they’ll give all they got on Monday, give a little more on Tuesday, and by Wednesday and Thursday they’re already burnt out. When Monday rolls around again, they have absolutely no motivation to train simply because they still haven’t recovered from last weeks workout.

For a newbie, it’s better to under train then it is to over train. People still haven’t understood the concept of physical activity and what it takes to get results. Intensity levels are based on your past performance. Here is a perfect example:

Joe has never exercised before. He decides to hire a personal trainer and tells him that he wants to lose as much weight as fast as possible. So his personal trainer gets cracking and comes up with his revolutionary extreme fat loss program:

  • 30 minutes of treadmill walking, 3 days a week

The first week, Joe loses 5 pounds. He’s ecstatic! The second week, he loses 3 pounds. He’s now really happy. The following two weeks, he loses 1 pound each week. Total weight loss is 10 pounds. Joe’s personal trainer tells all his prospective clients about Joe’s amazing results – 10 lbs in 30 days! He goes on to write a book about it, and makes a lot of money.

Ok, so from this example, I simply wanted to illustrate how smart Joe’s personal trainer is, and how not-so-smart most newbies are when it comes to program design. All you need to do create a really effective program is to do more than you did before. And if you haven’t been doing anything, well, there’s your perfect answer – DO SOMETHING.

Training Frequency for Advanced Athletes

The question of training frequency and intensity becomes a real issue for advanced athletes. Believe it or not, advanced athletes love to over train . Maybe it’s just human nature to do more, or at least to believe that we can do more. But once you realize that doing more doesn’t necessarily give you better results, you’ll stop immediately.

Image By Crossfit Las Vegas

Image By Crossfit Las Vegas

Too much exercise can cause over training. Over training is another talked about topic that very few people understand. Over training is simply a combination of physical and mental symptoms that result in a “reversal” of the benefits of exercise. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Feeling extremely tired, all the time
  • Decreased appetite/Upset stomach resulting in extremely fast weight loss
  • Consistent soreness in muscles
  • Extreme pain in joints
  • A depression of immune system resulting in constant sickness
  • A decrease in exercise performance

Over training is a real threat. But once again, over training is based on your training background. What is easy for me may be difficult for you. Lets go back to the example of Joe again. Fast forward two months later. Joe’s now doing 6 days of cardio, 45 minutes at a time. He’s been losing 8-10 pounds for the past three months, but his training intensity has not increased. Instead, his FREQUENCY has increased. Let’s crunch the numbers:

Month One:

  • Total Training Time: 360 minutes per month
  • Total weight loss: 10 lbs

Month Three:

  • Total Training Time: 1,080 minutes per month
  • Total weight loss: 10 lbs

You’re doing 3 times more work for the same results. In business, you call that stupidity. Successful people have learned to scale systems. In other words, you look at a program, you figure out what works, and you modify it so that you’re steadily doing less work for more results. That should be the goal of a training program, and that should be the prime determinant factor as to how many days a week you spend exercising.

Image by World News Australia

Image by World News Australia

Three Categories of Training Frequency

Training frequency falls into three categories:

High Frequency

  • 4 Days a Week
  • 3 On, 1 Off
  • 5 Days a Week
  • 6 Days a Week
  • 4 On, 1 Off
  • 2 On, 1 Off


Moderate Frequency

  • Monday/Wednesday/Friday
  • Every Other Day
  • Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday


Low Frequency

  • Every 3 Days
  • Two Days a Week

Newbies should start out with a low to moderate frequency training program. If you’ve never been physically active before, you’re better off starting with a low frequency program. Intermediate and advanced athletes can get results from low frequency programs, if they’re training intensity is extremely high. Bodybuilding programs like DoggCrapp and Heavy Duty are examples of low frequency, high intensity programs. However, most trainees do not understand high intensity training, and can potentially hurt themselves if they do not have a trainer or partner who understands this training style.

I personally have gone from a high frequency, moderate intensity program to a high frequency, high intensity program. The way this works is that because my workouts only last 10-20 minutes, I have close to 24 hours to recover from the workout. The goal is to get enough sleep and food for full recovery.

Most people abuse high intensity training in the following ways:

  • Their high intensity workouts are too long
  • They don’t eat enough
  • They don’t sleep enough
  • They blindly follow someone else’s program

Two Reason Why I Prefer High Frequency, High Intensity Programs

  • Training five days a week keeps me on schedule. It’s like a habit, and if I take a rest one day, I’m more likely to take a rest the second day. In fact, this happened to me very recently. I tried to follow a lower-frequency, three day per week program. What I would do is perform Monday’s workout, then take Tuesday off. Wednesday I would just make some excuse not to workout. Then I would do Wednesday’s workout on Thursday and take Friday off. Weekends I work at my father’s store for 12 hours each day, so there’s very little chance of getting in a workout. So three days a week suddenly becomes 2 days a week
  • Every time I’m in my garage or backyard working out, I feel like I’ve transformed into another person or teleported to a different planet. This is my time. I don’t have to do any chores, answer any emails, or listen to any one’s boring lectures on how the financial crisis is effecting them. This is my time to reflect, understand, and meditate on my life. Exercise is my release. If I’m angry, I crank out some pullups. If I’m sad, I crank out some pushups. And if I’m happy, then I’ll just crank out some nice jump roping tricks. I want to be in my “happy place” as often as possible (but not too often).

A Few Last Pointers

In the end, it’s your decision, but lets review some important points in determining the perfect training frequency for you:

  • Remember that to get results, you simply need to do more than you did before. This does not mean that you need to go from doing 10 Pushups per workout to 100 Pushups per workout within a week. Monitor your body, and make gradual changes over time.
  • You can follow a high intensity program at a high frequency or low frequency level. The three main things that will determine your success include sleep, food, and a customized program (do not blindly copy someone else’s program).
  • Over training is a real threat. You’ll only over train yourself if you fail to listen to your body. You should take rest days or even rest weeks if you feel extreme soreness, see extremely fast weight loss, and a decrease in exercise performance.

The last thing I’d like to mention is that training frequency is not as important as finding what works for you. Don’t spend so much time on the mechanics of program design that you forget to get results. I’ve pondered over a piece of paper for hours on end, only to find that the workout I wrote was either too impossible or too easy when I actually got working. You’ll discover your greatest lessons at the gym (or garage, or backyard, or bedroom, or [fill in the blank]).

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Three Steps to High Frequency Training (HFT)

High Frequency Training is a no-nonsense training method that works. I realized just how many people do not perform HFT after my cousin asked me, “How do I train my entire body multiply times a day?” The following are three steps to creating your own HFT training program:

Step One: Make a grand list of exercises

Sit down and take out a piece of paper and a pen or sit in front of your computer with some reliable word processing software. Now process a list of at least ten exercises that you can think of. Just jot down whatever you can think of. Often the exercises that pop into your head will be those that you enjoy and know how to do well. Here is what I came up with:

1. Pushups
2. Pull-ups
3. Bodyweight Squats
4. Push Press
5. Dead lift
6. Medicine Ball Wood chop
7. Medicine Ball Hay baler
8. One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Press
9. One-arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat
10. One-arm Dumbbell Swings
11. One-arm Dumbbell Snatches
12. Dumbbell Windmills

Step Two: Categorize the Exercises

Seconds step is to categorize your exercises. Body part training is simply a way of categorizing your training. Be creative and think outside the box when you categorize the exercise. Strive to keep cutting the list in half until you have four to five good categories.

Let me take you through this step-by-step. From looking at the above list, we can easily categorize this list into dumbbell exercises and others. So lets start with that:

Dumbbell Exercises
1. One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Press
2. One-arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat
3. One-arm Dumbbell Swings
4. One-arm Dumbbell Snatches
5. Dumbbell Windmills

Other Exercises
1. Pushups
2. Pull-ups
3. Bodyweight Squats
4. Push Press
5. Dead lift
6. Medicine Ball Wood chop
7. Medicine Ball Hay baler

Now you can take the other exercises and split them up into Bodyweight and Other
Exercises. So here is how the list would look like:

Other Exercises
Bodyweight
1. Pushups
2. Pull-ups
3. Bodyweight Squats

Other
1. Push Press
2. Dead lift
3. Medicine Ball Wood chop
4. Medicine Ball Hay baler

Lets go back to the first list. We can break the dumbbell exercises up into full
body and isolation. Even though the overhead squat and windmills work multiply muscle groups, they are more isolation oriented than the clean and press, swings and snatch. Here is how the list would look:

Dumbbell Exercises
Full-body
1. One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Press
2. One-arm Dumbbell Swings
3. One-arm Dumbbell Snatches

Isolation
1. One-arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat
2. Dumbbell Windmills

Step Three: Build the Routines

Now that you have a good categorized list, take each exercise and perform that each day. Let me reproduce the entire categorized list below:

Dumbbell Exercises
Full-body
4. One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Press
5. One-arm Dumbbell Swings
6. One-arm Dumbbell Snatches

Isolation
3. One-arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat
4. Dumbbell Windmills

Other Exercises
Bodyweight
4. Pushups
5. Pull-ups
6. Bodyweight Squats

Other
5. Push Press
6. Dead lift
7. Medicine Ball Wood chop
8. Medicine Ball Hay baler

Here is a sample Day One:

A-1) One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Press
A-2) One-arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat
B-1) Push-ups
B-2) Push Press

There you go. You may not be working out every muscle in your body, but you have the basics down. To choose your next workout, simply choose the second exercise in each category. Like this:

A-1) One-arm Dumbbell Swings
A-2) Dumbbell Windmills
B-1) Pull-ups
B-2) Dead lift

Now the fun part begins. Because each category has a different number of exercises, your workouts will be different each time. Based on the number of total exercises you have, your categories, and days per week you choose to train, a workout may not repeat for a while. Lets pretend the two above workouts were week one. Here is what week two would look like:

Day One:

A-1) One-arm Dumbbell Snatches
A-2) One-arm Dumbbell Overhead Squat
B-1) Bodyweight Squat
B-2) Medicine Ball Wood chop

Day Two:

A-1) One-arm Dumbbell Clean and Press
A-2) Dumbbell Windmills
B-1) Pushups
B-2) Medicine Ball Hay baler

The slight variation in the combination of exercises will provide a slightly different training stimuli each time preventing you from getting bored with your workouts. Less bored equals more consistency!

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