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The 6-Week, High-frequency Training Program to Build More Muscle

It’s time to banish bro splits from your repertoire and add more muscle by hitting every muscle four times a week.

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Steve Swanson Doing a Barbell Hip Thrust
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Steve Swanson Doing a Barbell Hip Thrust
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine

As is true with almost any skill, the more you lift, the better you get at it (and the bigger you get as a result). The more frequently you train a muscle, the faster it’s going to respond by growing. So if you’ve only ever trained one or two body parts in a session—totaling only one or two sessions for that area in a week—prepare to switch to a full-body, high-frequency routine that will bring gains at mind-blowing speed.

The problem with high-volume body-part splits is that they beat your muscles into the ground. For instance, if your chest day contains five different moves for the pecs, they’ll need several days to recover before they can be worked again. It’s good to train a muscle from all the angles and improve its work capacity, but going so long between workouts robs it of a chance to be exposed to the training stimulus again sooner, and that’s blowing an opportunity for growth.

To train a muscle more often, you have to reduce the work you give it in a single session, but that’s OK. Instead of working your chest with 12 sets in one session, you might do 12 total sets over the course of a whole week, with each session building on the gains of the previous one. But cutting back on volume isn’t enough to ensure recovery. You have to choose exercises carefully, too.

While muscles respond well to being worked often, the joints can resent it big-time. Doing heavy bench presses one day followed by shoulder pressing and dips on other days will be hell on your shoulder joints and set you up for injury. To train often and safely, you need to pick mainly joint-friendly exercises and keep recovery foremost in mind, and that’s why you’ll see various chest-supported rowing movements and body-weight exercises in our program.

Training the whole body in each session will bring balanced gains and help work your muscles four times in a single week. Think about it: If you were hitting your chest once a week, that’s 52 pec workouts a year. If you start hitting them four times a week, that’s a whopping 208 workouts a year. Think your chesticles might be bigger after that? Um…yeah.

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The 6-week Program

You’ll train four days a week, but since there are only three sessions, end the training cycle with the day you started with. So Week 1 will look like this: Monday, Workout A; Tuesday, Workout B; Thursday, Workout C; Saturday, Workout A. Next week, start with Workout B, and keep repeating that rotation.

Each workout consists of alternating sets, so you’ll do one set of the first exercise in the pair, rest, then a set of the second move, rest again, and repeat until all sets for that pair are complete.

Reps and Sets Cheat Sheet:

  • In Weeks 1 and 2, begin every set of every exercise with a 5-second static hold. That means you’ll hold the contractile position of the range of motion. (Think:the bottom of a squat and split squat, top of a row
  • and pullup.)Immediately afterward, perform 5 full range-of-motion reps. Rest 10 seconds and perform a 4-second hold, followed by 4 full-range reps. Rest 10 more seconds, do a 3-second hold, then 3 reps. All of the above equals 1 set.
  • In Weeks 3 and 4, do a 6-second hold and 6 reps; work down to a 4-second hold and 4 reps.
  • In Weeks 5 and 6, do a 7-second hold and 7 reps; work down to a 5-second hold and 5 reps.

Arm and Calf Specialization

If you want to target your arms or calves for extra growth over our six-week plan, place this circuit at the end of any two of the workouts. (You could tack it onto the end of Monday’s and Thursday’s sessions.) Perform one set of each exercise in sequence and repeat for three total rounds. Rest 60 seconds between exercises.

Note: Follow the same rep scheme, performing holds and then full reps.

Chest-supported Incline Curl
Set a bench to a 70-degree angle and lie against it chest down with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing each other. Curl the weights up and twist your wrists so your palms face up at top.

Triceps Pushdown
Perform pushdowns with a rope handle attachment. Hold the extended position.

Single-leg Standing Calf Raise
Stand on one foot on a block or step and perform calf raises. Hold the top position where your heel is high in the air. Perform all your reps on one leg and then repeat on the other side immediately.

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Routine

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Monday: Workout A

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 12

Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Exercise 2 of 12

Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Alternate with dumbbell row.
Exercise 3 of 12

Bulgarian Split Squat

Equipment
Sets
2
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Exercise 4 of 12

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Alternate with lateral raise.

Tuesday: Workout B

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 5 of 12

General Pullup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Or lat pulldown
Exercise 6 of 12

General Pushup

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Alternate with pullup
Exercise 7 of 12

Barbell Hip Thrust

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Exercise 8 of 12

Chest-supported Rear-delt Raise

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Alternate with barbell hip thrust.

Thursday: Workout C

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 9 of 12

Chest-Supported Row

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Exercise 10 of 12

Decline Bench Press

Equipment
Bench
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Alternate with chest-supported row
Exercise 11 of 12

Goblet Squat

Equipment
Dumbbells, Kettlebells
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
Exercise 12 of 12

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
--
Rest
90 sec.
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