Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Training Terminology: High Frequency Training

What is High Frequency Training?

What High Frequency Training (HFT) boils down to is:

- exercise often. Multiple times per day.

- moderate load. Nothing too straining, but not too easy, either.

- frequent rests. Never do so much work at once it overwhelms (or even impacts) your ability to recover.

Basically, do a moderate amount very often, but not too much.

If that sounds a lot like Greasing the Groove, it should. GTG is really a form of High Frequency Training. Do a lot of easy sets to practice the movement. If you push up the reps a bit so it's a little more work, and do a few more reps - but no more than you can easily recover from by the next morning, you can progress.

What do you get out of it?

In a phrase - "manual labor strength." Done right, you can get that go all day, grip like steel strength possessed by people who do steady, not too heavy, but very high frequency and high rep manual work.

This can get you:

- strength-endurance.

- hypertrophy. You can get muscle size out of this.

- strength. You will get stronger - although not necessarily in terms of 1-rep max - with enough load and enough rest.

- skill improvement. Like GTG, you will get better at the movements you do often.

How can I do it?

As a suggestion, I'd suggest picking one or two exercises, such as the 50 pullups/100 pushups workout.
You can even pick one and really master it, like the 100 pushups guy. Or do squats.

It's easiest if you pick something you can do almost anywhere (such as pushups and squats) or where you can engineer a way to do it (pullups, with a doorway pullup bar).

I'd also suggest going by feel. Pick a number that's about 60% of your one-set max and do that 2-3 times a day. Work up until you're doing 3-5 sets a day and they're starting to get easier. Then add more reps or more weight (if using a weight.)

The idea is just to do enough to force adaptation but not enough to cause any real strain on your system so you'd impair your recovery.


  1. More reading of Dan John and Pavel, eh?

    My variation of their Easy Strength goes like this,

    1. pick 3-6 lifts, best being sort of squat, some sort of push, some sort of pull, and perhaps a hinge and loaded carry
    2. figure out your "sorta max" in each of those lifts - what you can do without horrible messy grinding
    3. get 60 and 80% of these lifts, these are your "floor" and your "ceiling"
    4. at least 3 but not more than 6 days a week, do a total of 10 reps of each lift, never less than the floor and never more than the ceiling, get the reps out however you like, 3x3, 5x2, 5,3,2, whatever, doesn't matter
    5. after 6 weeks, take the 7th week off, and each day retest one of the maxes
    6. whichever improve the least and whichever the most, swap out for "same but different", eg bench press for close-grip, back squat for front squat, etc. Leave the rest the same

    Workout done in 15-30', no soreness or drama. Typically the big barbell lifts will increase by 5kg or so, the worst I've seen is 2.5kg (for an overhead press) and the best 15kg (for a squat). 5-10kg is most common.

    1. I can see that working.

      It's not so much Dan John and Pavel so much as training with lots of different people. The scary-strong guys on the mat in MMA are the construction workers, jackhammer operators, landscapers, etc. - the guys who do moderate loads from morning until night day after day. The ability to consistently be strong over a long match is something you can more easily get, I think, from this kind of high-frequency, moderate-load approach.


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