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Motivated by this thread I wonder if it is beneficial to trade less volume for less rest days. Currently I workout three times a week, every day two muscle groups. For example, wednesday is my chest day with 3 exercises 4x10 reps per exercise and one week rest. What is different to doing only 2 exercises but with only 4-5 days rest instead of 7 ?

Note that I only took me as an example, I am not looking for personal advice.

  • That link is probably not the one you intended. – gwaigh Aug 26 '16 at 6:55
  • oh yes it isn't (fixing it) – Christian Aug 26 '16 at 9:40
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...I wonder if it is beneficial to trade less volume for less rest days.

These types of questions inevitably generate lots of opinion based responses. And that's because there's really no right or wrong answer (from current research). The way each of us responds to training stimulus and our recovery ability is going to vary from individual to individual. Removing recovery days will tax the ability to recover for the next session. That's not to say it can't be done. It surely requires an understanding of the training response. The “Holy Grail” of fitness training and making gains is to determine and understand what it is that works for each of us. Individually.

A frequent stumbling block to many exercisers is the dreaded “plateau”. Varying sets, reps, volume, rest days, etc. can be effective response since it forces your body to adapt to a newer training regimen. The type of adjustment is typically determined by your personal fitness goals. Additionally, on an individual basis, some muscles may respond differently to increased volume. For example, I may be able to handle an additional leg day while you may not.

A valid approach would be to try less volume in favor of less rest days and see what gains, if any, occur. Keeping accurate sets/reps/weight records should provide the answer to your question.

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When you work out, the 2 days following to this your muscles will be recovering, after that you don´t have any extra gain from "resting" that muscle.

You're better off doing less volume per work out, and train a muscle group twice a week, than doing more volume and working the muscle group once a week. I'll give an example:

Train once a week: You might do 5 different exercises for chest, the last 2 or 3 exercises will probably not be as efficient because your muscles are already very exhausted. After 2 days of rest, your chest is basically recovered, the next 5 days don't do anything for you.

Train twice a week: You will do 2 or 3 different exercises for chest, you'll be able to execute every exercise to it's fullest potential, making your work out more efficient. After 2 days, your chest will be recovered, and you will hit your chest again.

What I do is:

Monday: Chest, Biceps, legs, mid-abs

Tuesday: Back, shoulders, triceps, side-abs

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Chest, Biceps, legs, mid-abs

Friday: Back, shoulders, triceps, side-abs

Weekend: Rest

Note: Your chest might be a bit sore when you go for the second workout of the week, but as stated in the post you linked to, that's perfectly normal.

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In terms of maximizing protein synthesis, you should train each muscle every 36 hours, since MPS is back to baseline after 36 hours. So, every other day training is "optimal", although joints and connective tissue need recovery too. I usually stick with two training sessions per muscle group per week to have a balance of great recovery and increased muscle protein synthesis beyond training each muscle once a week. As for training volume, a study showed similar muscle hypertrophy from 9 sets to failure in a week versus 21 sets to failure for a muscle group, so more doesn't always mean better.

Reference: http://mmfitstrong.com/maximizing-protein-synthesis-part-1/ (personal site)

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