May 3, 2011

High Frequency Program

In the last post (Increased Training Frequency), I suggested that frequency, much like volume and intensity can be manipulated to stimulate improvements in performance.  To do so, it may be necessary to eliminate certain exercises to allow more opportunity to train the important exercises.

“If it’s important, do it everyday” – Dan John, A Philosophy of Strength Training

For the competitive Olympic Weightlifter this could be as simple as working solely on the competition lifts and a squat exercise every training day.  In lieu of working to maximal everyday…which may be effective, but not ideal for everyone…there are several ways to arrange the training.  A very basic set-up might look something like this:

Example: Workout A and Workout B (I know, clever name…)

Workout A -    Snatch 1x1 @ 75, 80, 85, 90, 92-95%
  Clean & Jerk 1x1 @ 75, 80, 85, 90, 92-95%
  Squat 1x3 @ 87, 90, 92%; 1x2 @ 87, 90, 92%

Workout B -    Squat 5x3 @ 80%
  Snatch 8x1 @ 75%
  Clean & Jerk 6x1 @ 75%

*Exercise Sets x Reps @ % of max

Workout A is higher in average intensity, while Workout B is higher in total volume.   

On a typical 3-day per week schedule it would go A-B-A, B-A-B, A-B-A, B-A-B over the course of 4-week cycle.  Both workouts are performed 6 times during the 4-weeks, and more importantly the Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Squat are performed every training day. The exercises stay constant, and only the loading parameters of volume and intensity (and order) change for a given training workout.  Any other variation could be applied to a given workout assuming the exercises stay the same; this could mean working up to a maximal lift in each exercise or changing the order of exercises, starting with C&J rather than Snatch, etc.  Maybe you get a little crazy and Squat at the beginning AND end of the workout....

This same example could be used with a 4-day per week program just with an A-B-A-B format.  Not to confuse the situation but a Workout C could also be added (maybe one of the possible variations from above?), just as long as it is limited to Snatch, Clean & Jerk, and Squat.

When presented with this type of program the usual response is something along the lines of: “But what about X…”  What about it?  For this block of training, only select those that are most important.  I have previously said Top 3, but it could be Top 4 or 5.  The point being, only select those exercises you need, and then only perform those exercises.  You will have ample time to experiment and add exercises in subsequent cycles but sometimes you can achieve more via subtraction rather than addition.


  1. Had to re-upload this week's blog, and in doing so lost the comments. Most recent is posted here:

    From Jake:

    Would the percentages of your 1 rep max change throughout the four week cycle as gains were made? Or would you find your max at the beginning of the cycle and stick with it to find your working percentages?

    Doctor Hartman response:

    With the example given, I think it is pretty realistic to add 2.5 - 5 kg to the bar on the top end sets every week throughout the cycle.

    On the weeks where two of the same workouts are performed, the weight would stay the same, the next week where that workout was only performed once, would be ideal for an increase in weight.

  2. If done 4 days a week, would you go m,w,t,f on the a,b,a,b?

  3. That would work SeaBass. You might even want to make Monday a little harder (95% or Max), and stop at 90% on Thursday.