Whether you’re a student, working professional, or juggling multiple roles, finding the time to exercise and sticking to a plan is often tough to do. In the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, researchers decided to take a closer look at the different amounts of resistance training for two groups of men. In the 2018 study, “Training Volume, Not Frequency, Indicative of Maximal Strength Adaptations to Resistance Training”, Colquhoun et. al examined the effects of maximal strength and body composition with a training program featuring a total of 6-days compared to 3-days per week.
Twenty-eight males were tested in two groups, with one group training three days per week, and another group training six days per week. The individuals had previous experience with resistance training, and they each had performed resistance training programs for a minimum of 3 days a week for at least 6 months prior. The participants were assessed for baseline measurements and re-tested for results after completing a total of 6 weeks of training.
Researchers measured the participant’s squat 1RM, bench press 1RM, deadlift 1RM, powerlifting total, Wilk’s coefficient, fat-free mass and fat mass. Upon completion of the study, these researchers discovered that after 6 weeks of resistance training, there were significant increases in maximal amounts of strength and fat free mass. Also, researchers found that an increased training frequency of 6 days did not result in additional strength improvements when the participants trained at the same volume and intensity. In the study, the group of participants who exercised 6 days per week did not have any enhanced strength or hypertrophy benefits, especially when compared to the group that trained 3 days per week with the same volume and intensity. In a practical environment, physical therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, and personal trainers can note from this study that there were an equal amount of increases in strength and lean body mass measurements with both 3-day and 6-day weekly sessions, comprised of the same volume and intensity.
One might think that if you exercised six days per week, you might be better off, but in this study, there were no increased amounts of strength benefits in comparison to the group who only trained three days a week with the same volume and intensity. In terms of the results, there was an increase in the maximal squat, bench press, deadlift 1RMs, PLT, WC and fat-free mass for both groups after testing. These results confirm that volume is an important factor with strength adaptations and resistance training, and may even be more influential than frequency.
When creating an exercise prescription, physical therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, and personal trainers should focus on volume and intensity. The results from this study imply that individuals will not benefit from an increase in training frequency without also increasing training volume and/or intensity. Some major barriers for individuals with exercise include time constraints, personal exercise preferences and physical response to weekly training volume.
Based on the results of this study, fitness professionals can choose to prescribe a set amount of days per week for resistance training, such as three days per week, and it will produce the same effects as a program of 6-days per week with the same amount of volume and intensity. These findings are important for patients who may not adhere to a weekly program of 6-day resistance training, but instead will be able to commit to a weekly 3-day program. In further studies, researchers will need to examine the effects of increased training frequency, along with an increase in training volume and intensity, to aid with exercise prescription for fitness professionals.