title: Norwegian High Frequency Programs
NORWEGIAN HIGH FREQUENCY PROGRAMS
There has been some information floating around on lifting blogs that make mention of a study run in Norway on competitive powerlifters by Dietmar Wolf, a weightlifting coach.
The text of the abstract has been transcribed below for convenience:
POWERLIFTERS IMPROVED STRENGTH AND MUSCULAR ADAPTATIONS TO A GREATER EXTENT WHEN EQUAL TOTAL TRAINING VOLUME WAS DIVIDED INTO 6 COMPARED TO 3 TRAINING SESSIONS PER WEEK
Raastad, T., Kirketeig, A., Wolf, D., Paulsen, G. Norwegian School of Sport Sciences
Traditionally, powerlifters have divided total training volume into 3-4 weekly training sessions, where each of the three competition lifts (squat, deadlift and bench-press) typically is trained twice a week in addition to other exercises. Interestingly, in weightlifters and female athletes favourable training adaptations have been indicated when training volume was divided into more frequent and smaller training sessions (1, 2). Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the effect performing three large vs. six small training sessions per week in a group of competitive powerlifters.
A total of 16 powerlifters with the mean age of 21.1+/-3.6 years volunteered for the study (13 men, and 3 women). All subjects had competed in national powerlifting competitions within the last 6 months, and all had trained continuously for competitive powerlifting for at least 1 year before entering the study. Effect of training was assessed as changes in 1 RM in squat, bench-press and deadlift (all tests were performed without powerlifting suits), and as changes in cross sectional area (CSA) of m. quadriceps. Testing was conducted before and after a 15 week intervention period, in which the weekly training volume was distributed as either 3 or 6 weekly training sessions. Total training, volume, training intensity and exercises was identical in the two training groups, and briefly the lifters in the 3/week group performed twice as many sets as the 6/week group in each session.
At the start of the study performance without suits in squat, bench press and deadlift were similar in the two groups (167+/-45, 123+/-40 and 201+/-46 kg respectively). After the 15 week intervention period 1 RM in squat and bench-press increased more in the 6/week than in 3/week group (11+/-6 vs. 5+/-3% and 11+/-4 vs. 6+/-3%, respectively, p<0.05), whereas no significant difference between groups was observed for the deadlift (9+/-6 v. 4+/-6%). CSA of m. quadriceps increased more in the 6/week group than in the 3/week group (4.2+/-4.3 vs. -0.6+/-1.6%, respectively).
Dividing total training volume into 6 smaller sessions was more effective than the traditional 3 sessions per week regime both for the increase in 1 RM in squat and bench-press, as well as for the increase in thigh muscle CSA. The mechanisms behind the superior effects of more frequent and smaller sessions cannot be directly addressed in this study, but more frequent stimuli for hypertrophy and less fatiguing sessions might be possible explanations.
1 Hakkinen & Kallinen (1994) Electromyogr. Clin. Neurophysiol. 2 Hartman et al. (2007) Int. J. Sports Physiol. Perform.