Bro splits, training frequency & the anabolic window [video]

This is probably one of the most extensive discussions of training frequency on the internet. If you still think you should train a body part once or twice a week for maximal results, watch it.

 

 

The discussion can be downloaded as a podcast in mp3 format here.

 

Note to self: Turn off f.lux to avoid looking like you’re being interviewed in the Red Light District.

Note 2: The cover model and show host is Jeff Nippard, a pro natural bodybuilder.

27 Comments

  1. Pascal says:

    This is a great and pretty informative video about frequency. You kind of cover everything what is talked about throughout the internet and put it together here and pair it with your own opinion. Great thing!

  2. Greg says:

    Kudos to the interviewer for pointing out his philosophical differences. Many interviewers don’t contradict their guests, maybe out of politeness, even though you know from previous statements that they believe the opposite. Point/counterpoint is how we learn! You, Dr. Jacob Wilson, and Brad Schoenfeld have changed my mind on many aspects of nutrition and training, and I’m definitely trying the higher frequency, full body training now that you guys have dispelled the myth of overtraining. Keep the information coming. Thank you!!

  3. James T says:

    I am currently into my third week of training every part 5 times a week. Basically I am keeping it to 1 to 2 exercises per body part and a maximum of 3 sets per exercise.

    Still too early to tell if it will be a good program for me but I do agree with almost all of Menno’s philosophies. I do get more tired easily now after my sessions as compared to my previous program, even almost falling asleep while driving back from the gym. I do feel that while the muscles feel slightly ‘tight’ the day after but prior to my next workout, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to lift.

    Thank you, Menno!

    • Heath says:

      Hey James

      I missed a critical detail that would’ve laid out what the program would look like.

      So, if Monday was chest at 100% RM, there would be 2 lower body exercises, would they then be at 80% of your RM? is it 50%?
      Then Tuesday would be deads at 100%, and another lower body at 80/50% and chest at 80/50%, Wednesday would be squats at 100%, deads at 80/50%, bench at 80/50% and then the cycle repeats?

      • James T says:

        Hey Heath,

        If I heard correctly, the percentages calculations were used by the Norwegians to split the volume so that the ‘6 day’ group will be doing exactly the same volume as the ‘3 day’ group.

        What I am doing for my own program is:
        Day 1 – neck presses, 1 arm rows, cable lateral raises, barbell shrugs, wide grip rows, scott curls, overhead rope extensions and leg presses. all 3 sets

        Day 2 – mid-pulley crossovers, pulldowns, military presses, rack pulls, face pulls, bayesian cable curls, rope extensions and leg extensions. all 3 sets

        Day 3 – rest

        Day 4 – same as Day 1
        Day 5 – same as Day 2
        Day 6 – same as Day 1
        Day 7 – rest

        • heath says:

          Thanks James!

          I’m intrigued why you don’t do any of the major lifts like squats or deads, any reason for your preference?

          • James T says:

            Hey Heath,

            I read Lyle McDonald’s piece ‘Squat vs. Leg Press for Big Legs’, so for now I will just settle with Leg Presses.

            I forgot to mention that I am grossly overweight at 242 lb and standing at 5’6″, BF at 40 – 45% (estimated). Trying to lose enough weight before I squat.

            As for Deads, perhaps when I am more flexible and less gut overhang (tends to hit the bar). Sticking with Rack Pulls till then.

  4. Heath says:

    Hey James

    I missed a critical detail that would’ve laid out what the program would look like.

    So, if Monday was chest at 100% RM, there would be 2 lower body exercises, would they then be at 80% of your RM? is it 50%?
    Then Tuesday would be deads at 100%, and another lower body at 80/50% and chest at 80/50%, Wednesday would be squats at 100%, deads at 80/50%, bench at 80/50% and then the cycle repeats?

  5. Darren says:

    Don’t the Norwegians use a very low intensity/ rpe (I think Borge mentions an average of 73% of 1rm) in order to sustain such a high frequency?

    How does this work for bodybuilding? I know Bryan Haycock always talked about mechanical tension being the primary mechanism for growth and intensity of effort having little relevance. Do you agree with that Menno?

    Using an rpe scale would most sets be around 7 or 8 in order to sustain the higher frequency and accumulate more volume?

  6. Sjoerd says:

    Menno, I have two questions:

    Currently I simply annihilate each muscle twice a week. At my current level this seams to work very well. When you up the frequency do you still train to failure each session?

    Secondly, I like doing things like leg extension and triceps extensions at the end of the workout because you are forced to use less weight. When I do them first in a training session they tend to hurt my joints, even though I use controlled tempo on my reps. How do you prevent these problems in your clients?. Low weight and extreme high reps(30+)?

  7. Nick says:

    Hi Menno,

    You state that a bro-split is not such a bad way to train for beginners.
    Could you link me to that article?
    also what would you define as a beginner? Based upon strength levels?

    Greetings,

    Your fellow Dutchman!

  8. Steve Hall says:

    Really enjoyed this interview Menno.

    What do you think towards Mike Israetel et als Stress Response Adaption curves for different muscle groups e.g.

    Faster twitch larger muscles take longer to recover vs. Slow twitch smaller muscles that recover fast — and then this would impact training frequency.

    ^ no worries if you haven’t heard of this.

    You’ve given me something to think about, looking to potentially set up a H,L,M 5xPW frequency programme for each major muscle group.

  9. Vlad says:

    Hi Menno,
    Can you please give some links to the studies you mention?
    I’m particularly interested in the two studies about the effects of isolation vs. compound moves and the Brazilian study on the warm-up effects(or in that case the lack thereof) on performance.
    I’m 100% with you on those topics, based on personal experience, but so far I haven’t been able to find any scientific research to support my theories.

  10. Laurent says:

    Loved the interview. I’m glad you dispelled the myth of the pump. People chase it too much. Nothing beats tension. Liked you’re explanation..longer rest and full Rom are better for hypertrophy..2 factors against pump. Bro’s against Science…when all the exemples are about bi’s and tri’s and pump..Lets say i do biceps? ahaha ..when a sentence starts with that.

  11. Tom says:

    Hey Menno. I’m confused about your answer regarding Mark Rippetoe’s recommended training frequency for beginner’s. It’s true, that the anabolic window for beginners is longer, so from hypertrophy-standpoint, it’d logical to hit a muscle once a week, and then gradually increase frequency, as the lifter becomes more advanced.

    However you miss the ‘strength component’ which a novice, can improve drastically almost every other day. My best gains in terms of muscle and strength, were at the time I’ve just started lifting, and I trained a muscle/lift 3/2 times a week in 5-8 rep range, almost every time increasing load on the bar. The huge increment in load, resulted over time in significant hypertrophy.

    Also, from a skill learning standpoint, I find it also more suitable for novices, to train a lift frequently than 1/week.

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