Strength training frequency and strength gains.

How often should you performEffects of strength training frequency on strength strength training for maximum effect on strength gains? The effect of strength training frequency on strength gains is much debated by scientists, coaches and exercisers alike. Is training more often always better, is there a ‘best bang for your buck’ strength training frequency or can you get away with less frequent training to increase your strength? To answer these questions, researchers performed the following study.


What did the researchers do?

The researchers recruited 45 untrained men and assigned them randomly to one of three training groups. One group trained two times a week during the training period on Tuesday and Thursday. One group trained three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And the last group performed strength training four times a week on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. The groups followed the same training program for eight months in total. The training program was always supervised by an exercise expert and included eight exercises: Lat pulldown, leg press, bench press machine, leg extension, seated row machine, leg curl, shoulder press and abdominal crunch. The subjects performed three series of 10-12 repetitions with 60-120 seconds of rest between series. The exception to this was the abdominal crunch which was done with 15-20 repetitions per set. To determine the effects of strength training frequency measurements were taken before and after finishing the training period. During the intake measurement session, 10 Repetition Maximum tests were done on the lat pulldown, leg press and bench press machines from Technogym Italia. After the eight month training period, these 10 Repetition Maximum measurements were repeated.

What were the results?

The results are depicted in the figures below.

Effects of strength training frequency on 10RM Bench Press strength











Figure 1: Effects of strength training frequency on 10RM Bench Press strength in kg.


Effects of strength training frequency on 10RM Lat Pulldown  strength.











Figure 2:  Effects of strength training frequency on 10RM Lat Pulldown strength in kg.


Effects of strength training frequency on 10RM Leg Press strength.











Figure 3: Effects of strength training frequency on 10RM Leg Press strength in kg.


After 8 months of strength training all groups significantly increased their strength. However, no significant differences between the groups were found.

What did the researchers conclude?

A strength training frequency of two times a week is sufficient to significantly increase strength in men that start to train. However in the long term, the results also hint that a higher strength training frequency can increase strength to a larger extent.


-A rather small number of subjects performed strength training four times a week, which may influence the strength training results. Perhaps if a larger number of subjects was in the four times a week training group, the differences would be statistically significant and it would prove very useful to train more frequently.

Body composition and muscle hypertrophy were not evaluated during this study.

What does this mean for me?

-For beginners using a full body program, it is sufficient to perform strength training two times a week.

-A higher strength training frequency might yield larger strength increases than training two times a week (see discussion).

See also:

-Strength training: Effects of movement speed

-How to increase muscle mass effectively


-Serra, R., Saavedra, F., Freitas de Salles, B., Dias, M.R., Costa, P.B., Alves, H., Simão, R. The Effects of Resistance Training Frequency on Strength Gains. Journal of Exercise Physiology Online 2015, 18, 1, 37-45.