By Jim Bryan
Early in my weight training career I was training an average of six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. I was involved in competition in Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Body Building . Sometimes there were non-sanctioned Strongman type competitions. At this time I was chemically assisted but I never felt that it helped. Others did and saw areas of big improvements. But like I said I never felt it helped and don’t recommend it.
Somewhere in 1970 I met Arthur Jones and was exposed to shorter and harder workouts. I was already training hard but the workouts took a long time to complete. I hadn’t learned to “focus” my training yet. Arthur convinced me to stop depending on chemical assistance and showed me how to train harder in a shorter time frame. He also told me about “infrequent training.” After, I was training only three days a week for about 30 to 60 minutes. At first it was mostly on free weights and some machines at Christensen’s Health Club, and on mostly free weights and early prototypes of Nautilus Machines in Deland. When I first met Arthur, Nautilus didn’t exist in reality. It was only in Arthur’s mind. Thus, we didn’t have anything special in the beginning to train on. Free weights, Universal machine, Nautilus Pullover Prototype that’s pretty much it. I was happy to be only training 3 days a week and to me this was “Infrequent Training.” Today you have trainers bragging about only working out now and then, or once a month. It has been accepted that this is “Infrequent Training.” I believe things have gotten out of hand with this thinking.
My thoughts on “Optimal Training”
Three days a week training: I feel that this is the best way to go for most people. It works for body composition, lean muscle improvements, strength, and conditioning. Most people don’t train hard enough to run the risk of over training and three days is not that hard to get in. This can be all weights or a mix of weights and body weight training. Throw in some implements to make things interesting and on your off days get outside and enjoy being active. Don’t be afraid to be active. Practice sensible eating and you should do well.
Two Days a week training: This also works and for very busy people it may be ideal. Also, for the rare few (and I mean few) that train the way we used to in Deland, this is or can be a good frequency of training. Again, you can do all weights or mix with body weight training. It becomes more important to stay active on your non – training days if you are after a “lean look.” You can accomplish your goals of adding strength and maintaining muscle on two days a week training. Some will even add muscle but you need to make these workouts count. Focus your training and try to do as much as you can in the space of your workout. Training should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Some really hard workouts can be completed in 15 minutes and change.
When you are training only twice a week, “conditioning” starts to suffer in my opinion. I recommend participating in some kind of out door activity. Something like jogging, water skiing, swimming, soccer, surfing, boogie boarding, walking, or biking. Get outside, burn some calories, stay fit and stay active. Twice a week can work but you have to practice sensible eating if you want to shed some fat.
Once a week training: I don’t find this to be optimal. Sometimes you can’t help it. Life gets busy and you can only get one a week in. I feel that you can continue to add strength on one training session a week as long as you REALLY focus on weight progression in your exercises. I feel that body composition suffers for most people. You will tend to get fat and your conditioning will suffer, as well as your “work capacity.” You’ll really have to cut your calories if you want a lean look. So much so, that you may find you don’t have enough energy for a HEAVY workout. Your strength can suffer also. It’s around this area that “Infrequent Training” starts to become too infrequent. You better be active as heck if you only workout once a week or you will become…………………………………fat.
Less than once a week training: Look! I’m going to be honest here. I don’t care how many books or articles you have that say you can succeed on this. What you will end up with is ………Books and Articles.
You’ll have very little muscle, and your conditioning will be zero. You just can not do it in five minutes a day whenever you feel like it as some would have you believe, and you can not do it with workouts that never happen. Having the best Fitness Library means zilch if all you ever do is read and talk your workout. You have to work out! You have to raise your heart rate. You have to spend some sweat and effort. You have to be consistent. You have to pay attention to what and how much you eat. All the best intentions in the world will not make up for lack of effort in the gym.
AND neither will the latest “Fitness Craze.” The experts on the Internet will go on and on about “I use this and I use that” but the bottom line is weight training works. Combine weight training with body weight training and conditioning and just do it. It has worked for over 50 years as I know it and continues to work. Gimmicks come and go but Sensible Strength Training will go on and on. BUT you have to show up, work out, and be consistent! Argue less on the Body Building sites and you will probably find the extra few minutes needed to “Just go lift.” I don’t care how you do it or who’s method you use, “Just go Lift.”
All said and done if you have been training consistently and regularly, don’t be afraid to take some time off to recharge now and then. Best effort equals best results. Not everyone will end up developing “Huge Muscles.” Some will and some won’t. It depends on your potential and effort. AND!!! Women don’t end up looking like a man because they lift weights. So just throw that excuse out the window. Women look good with some lean muscle on them.
TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend Jim Bryan for once again sharing his insights with us.