What exactly is the body's mechanism to recover from the stress of strength training and to adapt to greater loads, and how does frequency of training affect this mechanism?
For illustration, consider two people not on drugs:
Person A squats 6x5, once every 3 days, with a weight that takes the last rep close to failure.
Person B squats 2x5, every day, with a weight that takes the last rep close to failure.
Who gets stronger faster? Three possibilities are:
- Person A gets stronger faster. After being stressed by tension and activation near maximal effort, muscles and the nervous system need a minimum amount of time (I've heard 48-72 hours) to recover fully. Stressing them again in that time interrupts the recovery process and voids it.
- It makes no difference. Person B's muscles and nervous system take one third the time to recover from one third the stress of person A's workout. Both people are getting enough rest.
- Person B gets stronger faster. Not only are both people getting enough rest, but:
- he releases testosterone more often and therefore spends more time in an anabolic state.
- his reps are higher quality, with better form and more explosiveness, because he's not fatiguing himself with so many sets in one session. Therefore, his average rep recruits muscle fibers more efficiently than person A's average rep, and he is less likely to injure himself.