11 October 2010

Modulate Your Frequency... The One Time You Won't Tune Low

If you've not gotten the message that I like music wherein the guitars are drop-tuned to the point where they sound like a bass with a blown-out PA, you've not been reading the blog. I like my music tuned low. Way low. In spite of that affinity, I don't like the frequency of my workouts to match the drop-tuning of those guitars. Instead, I enjoy high frequency in my workout regimen, due to the fact that a high workload forces greater metabolic changes, it's fun, and I find that I'm better able to both maintain higher bodyweight and relative training weights with more frequent trips to the gym. The question with which I am constantly faced, however, is how one should go about increasing their training frequency without suffering the myriad deleterious consequences of the dreaded scourge known as overtraining. Lest I get going on a rant, we'll simply delve into the benefits of increased training frequency, of which there are legion, and then we can revisit the aforementioned scourge and call down a pox on the imbeciles and assholes who've fear-mongered the fuck out of training.

Why Should You Increase Your Frequency?
The standby for any internet genius whose mouth far outpaces his lifting progress is to scream to the heavens that no natural lifter could possibly lift more than 4 or 5 times a week. Their argument is perhaps solely predicated upon the idea that if a lie is repeated often enough, it will eventually become truth. Alas, fuckers, this is not to be. How do I know?

Old-school strongmen trained and exhibited their strength constantly. By constantly, I mean every fucking day. These guys were in heavy demand at the turn of the century, as evinced by Louis Cyr's salary of $2000 a week in 1885 is equivalent to $47000 now... there's not a fucking strength athlete on the planet who makes anything even vaguely approximating that these days. The strongmen of yesteryear were made of stern stuff, though, and due to their high demand and the fact that they'd not been inundated with pseudoscientific claptrap about "overtraining", they trained for hours a day, every day. Likewise, Saxon and Goerner trained 6 days a week, and regularly held exhibitions and contests to showcase their strength and prove their preeminence in the sport. Thereafter, guys like Paul Anderson, Bob Bednarski, and even Bill Pearl kept the flame of high frequency training alight, as they busted their asses in the gym 6 days a week, come hell or high water.(Purposeful Primitive 15, 19-20)

The aforementioned men had a rather massive head start on the average modern trainee, however, and it wasn't solely the fact that they boasted gigantic ballsacks and bulletproof colons filled with indomitable spirit and general intestinal fortitude. Instead, these guys had the massive benefit of a life far harder than those of our own. People today are fucking soft, and I don't mean in a "holy fuck get me a seatbelt extension because my fat ass cannot be encircled by this paltry six feet of fucking airplane seatbelt"- I'm talking just in terms of basic lifestyle. People back then walked places, they shoveled shit by hand, built shit, carried shit, and basically busted their fucking asses all the livelong day. Once they'd grown to something approximating adulthood, they took hard fucking jobs, where they busted their asses all that much more. Bridge builders in the mid-19th century worked all day with 18kg sledgehammers- modern sledges are 6.3kg. English railway navvies at the same time were expected to shovel 20 tons of Earth a day, and Nepalese porters who weighed less than 50kg routinely transported loads of 90kg 95km over steep mountain trails at that time. (Manthropology 30-31)

These navvies are so much harder than you, you might as well be looking at a pack of velociraptors.

The aforementioned facts leave you at a massive disadvantage, and likely at a bit of a loss. Even 20 years ago, people were far more active than they are now, so with every passing day the gap between the work capacity of yesteryear and that of the modern trainee grows greater. The resolution to this crisis, however, should be plainly evident.

The Solution
Start exercising more. Simple enough, right? This does not necessarily mean that you need to drag your ass into the gym twice a day and lift near-maximal weights until your eyes pop out and you shit blood. As much fun as that might sound, it's time to temper your enthusiasm with a modicum of sense- if you're fucking dead, your squat's not likely to increase much, is it? Thus, don't be fucking retarded.
One of the best ways to avoid complete mental enfeeblement is to heed the advice of the Bulgarians, who found "that after 35-45 minutes of rigorous weight training, the body's natural blood testosterone level would decrease by up to 80%."(Big Beyond Belief 22). While you might find this to be somewhat exaggerated (as I do), it's good to bear in mind, as it will keep you from training for hours nonstop on a regular basis. It also lends itself to the idea that high density training is ideal- "only when a muscle performs with greater resistance in a unit of time than before , will its functional cross section need to increase... hypertrophy is seen only in muscles that must perform a great amount of work in a unit of time." (Power Factor Training ripshit, mega-great-white-shark-battling-a-killer-robot intensely, you're going to transmogrify yourself into strength athlete of bygone-era badassitude, if it's done with the proper frequency.
But then, how frequently should you train? There's no easy answer to this question- Zatsiorsky himself states at the beginning of his seminal work that "it is absolutely unclear which criteria one should use for selecting proper intervals between consecutive workouts." (Science and Practice of Strength Training 13) Why's it so difficult? As I've stated before, capacity is a wildly shifting target, due to the massive number of individual factors, both biological and environmental, that play into its determination. For this reason, you're going to have to feel this one out like a blind man at an orgy. Trial and error is your friend here- just like you don't want to ram your cock into someone's eye socket because you jumped the gun and you can't see what the fuck you're doing (you're still blind and at an orgy in analogy-land), you don't want to miss out on the whole fucking thing and fail to double your bodycount in a single night because you were too busy being a pussy to dive into a pile of naked people and fuck your way out. Don't make fucking excuses that will lead you to pass up on the opportunity to increase your volume, but don't force yourself to train when you feel like you might die in the process, either. It should be as natural and organic a progression as you can manage, in spite of your acidic hatred dripping from your pores like an Alien with ebola because you're surrounded by sweaty fat motherfuckers jostling each other for a cheeseburger at lunchtime.

Next- baby steps to badassedness.

Zatsiorsky, V.  Science and Practice of Strength Training.
Costa, L. Big Beyond Belief.
Sisco and Little.  Power Factor Training.
McCallister, P. Mathropology.
Gallagher, M. Purposeful Primitive.


  1. Jamie - you should check out Burning the Masses. Tech death meets (meats?) slam death. I saw them live in Fort Worth a week or so ago and they peeled the skin off of my nutsack.

    Afterwards, during a vegan death metal band's set, I waltzed into the pit and started throwing up jazz hands.

  2. I'm trying to get my soon-to-be 16 year old brother to start lifting.
    I was wondering how I'd go about getting him started.
    I'm interested for your next installment.
    I always hear "you're not ready for high volume/weight/etc if you haven't been lifting for AT LEAST 2 YEARS, etc" (or something like that.)
    Fuck that.
    6-8 months and I think the kid could be doing 10 to 15 sets of two or three and maybe maxing out every several weeks.
    Assuming he ate everything in fucking sight.

  3. the prble with high frecuency is not overtraining, the problem are injuries, thats why powerlifter dont train to often, not because you may overtrain, but because you may get hurt training too heavy too often or just lifting too often.

    and beiuing lifting a hobby not a carrer you dont want be in pain all the time

  4. Warrick Brant: Australian for awesome.
    Front squatting weights that would make normal humans explode. Yes, explode. They'd touch the bar and erupt into a geyser of blood and viscera.


  5. "These navvies are so much harder than you, you might as well be looking at a pack of velociraptors." Funniest thing I've read all year. You need to write a book.

  6. My favorite saying about overtraining: if you have to ask if you're overtraining, THEN YOU'RE NOT OVERTRAINING!

  7. The blogs seem to be more practical and methodical lately.

  8. One should CrossFit like Linc Brigham to get absolutely huge!

  9. Anon- I've got Burning the Masses on my work comp, actually. Haha. Not my fave, but worth having in the rotation. Loving Snatch Club's True Kids Superbrawl lately though. I'm going to Whitechapel/I Declare War/a bunch of other deathcore bands on the 23rd.

    Cameron- I blogged about beginners once, but I'm not really keen on giving them advice. I'd avoid singles until he learns the movements and greases the groove.

    Injuries are going to happen no matter what the frequency of one's training.

    Jolly- My apologies. I'll work on that, haha.

  10. @ 1st commenter:

    Vegan Death Metal?
    That's a fucking abomination if I've ever seen one!

    This blog rules, but I don't know about the "increase frequency but don't kill yourself" thing. I like the bit about increasing frequency, but I think the general "don't kill yourself" sentiment should be dropped. Don't get me wrong, it's good advice, it's just that most people save for a batshit-crazy few tend to way underestimate their limits in terms of how hard and often they can push themselves physically. I'd hate for some lazy-ass victim of our pussyfied society to read that and view it as an excuse to slack off and "take a rest day" as soon as the going got a little tough.

    I think I read this quote on John Broz's site: "The lifter who can endure the most pain, wins.", or something to that effect. It's true. Watch the interview with Max Aita of California Strength on Youtube, where he talks about training under Ivan Abidjiev. He tells about times when he would go in hurting like motherfucker, grind through his workout, and somehow manage to set a PR, on days when he could "barely walk down the stairs that morning".

    Anyway that's my minor issue with this post,
    but other than that this blog fucking rules.
    Keep it coming!

  11. I'll be sure to reassert the idea that we're training right up to the point where you shit blood- that was my aim. I'll elucidate that point more in the next post- I fully agree with Broz.

  12. Thought you guys would find Brooks Kubik's latest newsletter fucking hilarious, especially given what's being said up here.

    "Dear David,

    Hail to the dinosaurs!

    As promised in yesterday’s email message, here
    are some thoughts on optimum workout frequency
    from two time Olympic Gold Medalist, Tommy Kono.

    In addition to his two Gold Medals (in the 1952
    and 1956 Olympic Games), Tommy Kono won the Silver
    medal at the 1960 Olympics (despite a severe leg
    injury), and Tommy Kono won six world championships
    and three pan-American championships. He set
    multiple World records – and is the only man to
    set World records in FOUR different weight classes.

    In addition to his weightlifting success, Tommy Kono
    was a four-time winner of the Mr. Universe contest
    (held in conjunction with the World weightlifting
    championships), and served a coach in three Olympics.

    He is the author of Weightlifting, Olympic Style and
    Championship Weightlifting.

    So when it comes to lifting, Tommy Kono knows what
    he’s talking about!

    Here’s what Tommy Kono shared with me about workout


    My thoughts on this. Once a week is better than no
    workout or too many workouts a week. Sometimes those
    who train forget that they need to tax the muscles,
    but the muscles need time to recover. You tax them
    too often, and it becomes routine, so it is like work.
    The muscles won't respond to routine.

    I believe that is the reason having 3 workouts a week
    was good with the light, medium and heavy system. You
    are really taxing the muscles once a week although you
    are training 3 times a week.

    I've always believed in the idea of getting the most out
    of an exercise using the least amount of time so Quality
    is insured and you retain enthusiasm for the exercise
    program. Some thrive on working hard all the time but
    what happens is that the trainee develops the capacity
    to train long and hard but the results don’t compensate
    for all the time and effort put into the training plan.

    I've always stated that it is better to be under trained
    than over trained. A little bit of weight training goes
    a long way. It pays bigger dividends than long, drawn-out

    In my first book, I mentioned about going through Army boot
    camp. I had no time to train for over 2 months but I competed
    in my 2nd Nationals. With just 3 technique workouts in 2 days
    and resting one day, I was able to total as much as I did in
    the Nationals the year before.


    So there you have some “radical” ideas from one of the very
    greatest weightlifters of all time:

    1. Train 3 times per week.

    2. Use the light, medium and heavy system.

    3. Train heavy ONE day per week.

    4. Less is more.

    5. A little bit of the right kind of training goes a long way.

    6. Emphasize QUALITY, not quantity, in your workouts.

    7. It’s better to undertrain than to overtrain.

    You might want to print this email out and save it – because
    Tommy Kono just gave you some of the very best training advice
    you’re ever going to see.

    Thanks to Tommy Kono for sharing his thoughts with us – and
    thanks to everyone out there who reads this email and who
    applies its teachings.

    Have a great day – and if you train today, make it a good

    Yours in strength,

    Brooks Kubik"

  13. http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=62168

    You've already made your way onto the fagfit boards. Some real gems in there!

  14. I totally agree with this article. But i do think that SOME exercises need to be done less frequently, ie squats, deadlifts etc. And also bench presses, dips, overhead presses etc. Squating once a week is fine IF you've fully recovered from any previous leg work. Deadlift no more than once every two weeks max. Fuck you all.

  15. This is off topic, so sorry. But what do you guys think of green tea, as either a supplement or in drink form? I'm mainly interested in it giving me a better boner, and when i take it i think it does (i'm nearly 40, but still wank twice a day - mainly because i'm married). But i'm always put off by that famous article saying green tea lowers your testosterone. When you google it though, some sites say it raises it, and tonight i read some Poliquin article about middle age "andropause" and he's saying it raises test. Any opinions? FWIW i've noticed when i take a cap of panax ginseng with the green tea supplement, i can't leave my cock alone.

  16. Jamie, I'm surprised you bought up the decrease in testosterone after 45 minutes of hard exercise. I usually lift for about an hour, hour and a half. Do you think there is any benefit to breaking up these sessions to keep them under an hour, or am I just horribly misinterpreting the facts?

  17. I think the jury's still out on that, but the bulgarians definitely seem to limit their time per session to an hour or so.

    Green tea's a bunch of antioxidants- I know of no study showing it to affect test one way or the other.

  18. Stuart-

    one can squat up to (daily) max every day.
    After the adaptation period, you hardly even get sore anymore.

    I know this because this is how the Bulgarians train. A Bulgarian session is basically Snatch, C&J, Squat, all up to daily one rep max then drop down for volume work (doubles and triples) to get a total of 30 to 50 reps for the exercise. They have two to three sessions per day.

    I also know this because I've been squatting in this manner every day for 4 months now. I've only missed three days so far, and I've increased my squat by a steady 10 kg per month over this period.
    It's pretty damn uncomfortable and tiring at first, but once you adapt, it becomes like breathing.

  19. If you're relatively new to this would you suggest maxing on the squat every day and then doing doubles and triples or would you just suggest working the doubles and triples?

  20. Max out on every lift every day.
    Curls- Max out.
    Kickbacks- Max out.
    Flies- Max the fuck out.
    Leg Extensions- It you can walk away after maxing on this you didn't max out. Your feet should be dangling from the compound fracture.

  21. Oh shit, someone should tell Pat Mendes not to squat everyday. He doesn't know he might get overtrained.

  22. Kick backs? Leg extensions? Flies? Why don't you get your asshole bleached while you are at it??

  23. Hey, fuckface, it was a joke.
    Context you idiot...
    Look at the blog you're posting on;
    It was sarcasm.

  24. I might be going crazy and getting paranoid here but I think all the anonymous posters are one guy these days.

  25. @ Anon who posted right after me -

    When I started it I went straight to maxing + volume and it turned out alright. I don't know how much training history you have compared to me, but when I started this Bulgarian-ish style I only had about a year and a half of actual lifting under my belt (not counting lifting while training for track in the past), so I figure that if I can do it, pretty much any schmoe can.

    Check these out:



    That guy's stuff is one of my main internet sources for training info aside from this site and a couple other gems.

  26. just looking at Broz's site:

    There is too much emphasis made about drugs and not enough about training harder and smarter with more intensity and frequency. You can’t grow simply by taking juice and sitting on the couch. You MUST train! Whoever trains the most will have the best chance to reach their goals, whatever they may be.

    Sounds like good advice to me.

  27. Another little gem:

    In summary: If you are injured go to the hospital, if not, your ass better be in the gym.


    From this post: http://www.averagebroz.com/ABG/Q_%26_A/Entries/2010/5/24_training_tired_and_sore.html

  28. This is why I love me a little 5/3/1. I train my ass off for 30 mins and GTFO. I go to failure in that last set and hobble my ass out of the power rack and into a nice hot shower (and it feels like that Irish Spring commercial where all the naked bitches pop out and giggle). If your shower following a workout doesn't feel like that, you're obviously some sort of city-slicker pussy.

    And of course, if you've no need for a shower after your workout, and instead head to starbucks for a cafe latte and biscotta, then perhaps settling down in a nice gay marriage with three adopted Asian children is right up your alley.

  29. Its biscotti.

    Learn Italian.

  30. A goof said...

    Max out on every lift every day.
    Curls- Max out.
    Kickbacks- Max out.
    Flies- Max the fuck out.
    Leg Extensions- If you can walk away after maxing on this you didn't max out. Your feet should be dangling from the compound fracture.

    I've maxed out on all of those before except for kickbacks.

  31. Eat SHIT if you do leg extensions. And then drink some come you pussy.

  32. I'll drink it right out of your mom's snatch, thanks.

  33. The thing is it's a nasty mix from 3 other guys you're drinking glen. bummer.

  34. Regarding green tea:

    Endocrinology 2000 Mar;141(3):980-7
    Modulation of endocrine systems and food intake by green tea epigallocatechin gallate.

    Kao YH, Hiipakka RA, Liao S.

    Ben May Institute for Cancer Research, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Tang Center for Herbal Medicine Research, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA.

    Green tea polyphenols, especially the catechin, (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), have been proposed as a cancer chemopreventative based on a variety of laboratory studies. For clear assessment of the possible physiological effects of green tea consumption, we injected pure green tea catechins ip into rats and studied their acute effects on endocrine systems. We found that EGCG, but not related catechins, significantly reduced food intake; body weight; blood levels of testosterone, estradiol, leptin, insulin, insulin-like growth factor I, LH, glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride; as well as growth of the prostate, uterus, and ovary. Similar effects were observed in lean and obese male Zucker rats, suggesting that the effect of EGCG was independent of an intact leptin receptor. EGCG may interact specifically with a component of a leptin-independent appetite control pathway. Endocrine changes induced by parenteral administration of EGCG may relate to the observed growth inhibition and regression of human prostate and breast tumors in athymic mice treated with EGCG as well as play a role in the mechanism by which EGCG inhibits cancer initiation and promotion in various animal models of cancer.

    But then Charles Poliquin put this in an article:

    "CP (Charles Poliquin): Green tea has been shown clinically to increase testosterone, decrease estrogens, and increase detoxification rates in the body. It also serves at increasing metabolism. You can read more on green tea here: Benefits of Green Tea Supplementation"


  35. you talk such a load of shit, yeh u got twice the muscle of me, but i would love to fight you in a cage fight and rip your fake ass steroid taking head off, no balls? i can tell through your shorts hahhaha