Over the past few years athletes have started to pay a lot more attention to how many times per week they train specific muscle groups, especially natural physique athletes looking to maximize hypertrophy. The “bro” system which is still considered by some to be the standard for hypertrophy is based off blasting ONE muscle group per day once a week. This requires absolutely destroying the muscle with lots of volume, creating loads of DOMS and giving it a week to recover. This style of training seems to have developed once drugs came into the picture. In fact, opponents of higher frequency training will point to successful IFBB (drug using) bodybuilders who train each muscle only once per week and are huge (hmm sounds like the logic Flexible Dieting critics use).
That was the old/bro way, this is the new way. Over the past few years natural athletes have realized that there are much better muscle and strength gains to be made following an increased training frequency approach.
Many of these program templates are very versatile and can be set up multiple different ways. Selecting one of these increased frequency templates is not the end. The most important aspect of your training is still going to be how it is structured to allow for progressive overload. It doesn’t matter what type of split you are on if it does not have built in means for progression.
Push / Pull / Legs
This is by far the most popular increased frequency program I see athletes using, and for good reason it offers a great structure to work off from. However, I want to make it clear that following a PPL routine is NOT the only way to train with increase frequency. I feel like people in the natural bodybuilding world cling to this one template without realizing there are others out there that are just as good if not better.
What I like: Provides a great opportunity to have adequate volume on both upper and lower body.
What I don’t like: Muscles/exercises trained towards the end of the workout do not get the same work as ones in the beginning since the muscle groupings all have similar function.
How it is set up
Day 1 – Push: Chest, front + side delts, Triceps
Day 2 – Pull: Back, Rear delts, biceps
Day 3 – Legs: Quads, Hamstrings, Calfs
Day 4 – Rest and Repeat
Layne Norton’s PHAT Routine
This training template was developed by Dr. Layne Norton. As far as I am concerned this was probably the first increased frequency training program to really circulate around the natural bodybuilding world. This program also stood out for its recommendation to use Daily Undulating Periodization (DUP) by altering the rep ranges across the training week. For example, you had both power and hypertrophy days all in the same week. A lot training systems have adopted that method.
What I like: The full upper body day to focus on power movements as well as getting to divide it up later in the week.
What I don’t like: Can be hard to get adequate training volume in without considerably long workouts. Especially if you are like me and actually prefer training on the higher volume side.
How it is set up
Day 1 – Lower Body Power
Day 2 – Upper Body Power
Day 3 – Rest
Day 4 – Chest / Back Hypertrophy
Day 5 – Legs Hypertrophy
Day 6 – Shoulders / Arms Hypertrophy
Day 7- Rest and repeat
Upper Lower Training
What is typically seen as a program limited to only beginners is actually one of the BEST and my favorite all around training templates. I really like using an upper / lower set up for its versatility and simplicity. The one downfall is not having enough volume for upper body to maximize hypertrophy across all the muscle groups. However, that is not so much of an issue if you train more than four times per week. This is probably the best all around split for strength. Most of the popular powerlifting splits are set up in an upper lower fashion.
What I like: Takes out a lot of bull shit and forces you to only put in exercises that matter.
What I don’t like: This split tends to favor lower body development over upper body but quite frankly that wouldn’t be such a bad thing for most people.
How it is set up
Day 1 – Upper Body
Day 2 – Lower Body
Day 3 – Rest
Day 4 – Upper Body
Day 5 – Lower Body
Full Body Training
Last but not least – full body training. Typically when you think of full body training you think of the most basic fundamental programs out there. Let me be the first to say that does NOT need to be the case. However, some of the best beginner programs happen to be full body.
Most full body routines go off from a three day a week template with a day of rest in between training sessions. This is pretty basic and full body training can be set up different. This may require thinking outside of the box a little bit but full body training is probably the most variable of all of the templates we have gone over. In order to get enough training volume to stimulate hypertrophy I suggest training full body four or five times a week because three will not cut it. That will require training the same muscle group back to back days…GASP see what I mean by thinking outside the box?
What I like: It is very versatile and can be set up multiple different ways.
What I don’t like: This style of program is not for everyone. In order to make this work recovery needs to be on point and the program needs to be designed by someone who knows what they are doing like me…lol
How it is set up
Day 1 – Full Body (any combination you can think of)
Although this was a pretty good list of options for increased training frequency, it is by no means the only options. You can set up your training split however you like. In fact I would actually prefer people to put LESS emphasis on whether or not they are on PPL , UL or whatever and more on what type of periodization system they are running or what training variable they are manipulating. Those things are far more important then how you are grouping exercises together. If you happen to be one who is still hitting chest every national chest day (monday) I suggest you give one of these increased training frequency splits a shot!
Any questions contact Kyle at