Can you Train the SAME Muscle Every Workout? (Part 2)

(Part 2)

In our last blog (CLICK HERE), we talked about the evidence we see of some people just seeming to break the rules when it comes to building muscle so quickly.

Let’s go over HOW we can manipulate that to take advantage of those gains.


Progressive Overload

This term is coined in the fitness industry as gradual increases, over time, of the stress the muscle is placed under in exercise. Meaning that each workout is a little harder or a little heavier to ensure that you keep the muscle developing and growing.

Let’s say that you did a bench press of 135 for 10 reps this week, so next week you will need to progress the workout a notch more. That could be by doing 135 for 11 reps or 140 for 10 reps, doing another set, etc… either way, you’ll need to change something.

This is going to be the cornerstone of our/your program.

From this point further every workout needs to be taken up a notch for the muscle that you want to grow.


High-Frequency Training

This program and terminology was popularized by Chad Waterbury’s e-book HFT; a must read for anyone wanting to learn more about the ins and outs of HFT training.

What I’m about to go over is a modified version that we have been implementing at our studio, but I will attribute Chad’s book as the main foundation of this style of programming we do when we have to bring up a clients lagging body part.

HFT is a system where you work a movement, or muscle group, four or more times a week with each workout placing the muscle under a progressively more demanding workload.

An example:

One of the more popular muscle groups that I hear that my clients say is they want is a bigger or more developed chest, trust me I’ve heard this from women too.

Being upfront, a number of our people that need this style of training are not your typical beginner they are more of the seasoned gym-goer that has trained for a while but is stuck. These people tend to have the basics of strength and proper technique to get the true benefit of this style of training.

For a person wanting more chest development, I would pick dips to help maximize the muscle.

Built into this person’s program is going to consist of 50 dips.

NOW… I don’t care how many sets it takes them to hit 50 (but it should be somewhere around 2-4) they just need to accomplish 50 dips.

Then workout two they will add 1-2 reps AND (here is THE reason this works) change the hand placement of the dip. So if workout 1 had them doing 50 reps of dips with their hands wide, then workout 2 will have them doing 51/52 dips with their hands close.

In workout 3 we will add ANOTHER rep (recall the term progressive overload?) and change up the placement again to do dips on the rings with palms facing behind them. Workout 4 will be ANOTHER variation of form with ring dips, hands neutral all while adding additional reps.

The following week we go back to workout one with the hands wide to complete 54 reps of dips.


Things to note:

  • We added ONLY 1-2 reps each workout.

  • We change the movement pattern slightly to hit the fibers at a different angle. (hand wide, close, neutral, etc…)


Ok, so what the heck did we just do?Can You Train The Same Muscle In Every Workout | Rowlett Transformation Center

What we did was focus on small incremental increases in workload for the muscle all the while changing the angle of which we did the exercise.

The overall goal of this is breaking down the muscle JUST ENOUGH that we cause the physiological response necessary for growth by consistently ensuring that we are doing more ‘work volume’ than the last workout.

An example of ‘work volume’ is let’s say your doing dips and you weight 180lbs so for every rep you do you are moving 180lbs, if you complete 20 reps then you have essentially moved 3600lbs (180×20=3600) in that set.

For this workout we had the person start with 50 dips (I’ll explain why that number later), so their total workload for that exercise was 9,000lbs. The following workout they did one more rep of dips (51 total) which thus brought their total work volume to 9,180lbs for that workout, then we follow the same formula for 52 reps… and the trend continues.

Right now you probably have some questions so let me address some of the popular ones before we move on.


Q1: How many workouts can I do in a week?

The sweet spot we have been finding is 4 times a week. We have experimented with up to 7, but this all depends on your personal life and rate of recovery.

If you recover VERY fast, you know who you are, then you can train more often, but most of the gym junkies we have tend to respond better to 4 sometimes 5 times a week.


Q2: How do I change the angle that I’m working the muscle?

This isn’t as hard as people make it out to be, hand placement is usually the easiest way to do this. Wide, close, neutral, pro or supinated (forward or backward), just as long as you are not lifting the EXACT same way as the last workout you’ll see the results.


Q3: What exercises are best for (insert body part)?

I can tell you some my favorite ones but I’m sure that you’ll find some of your own.

Can You Train The Same Muscle In Every Workout | Rowlett Transformation Center


The point that I would like to emphasize is that each exercise has different angle and variations, they are not locked into a specific pattern.

With that said here a few rules when picking your exercises:

  • No machines – Even if you alter hand placement machines have too much of a fixed pattern. A piece of advice I tell our members here is to remind then that machine was not built for just for them, so it may not be the best choice for how their body moves.

  • Nothing that stresses the tendons – Anything that puts your tendons under excessive stress or stretching may not be best. Skull crushers have been known to stress the tendon more so than say a dip or push up hence they are not on the list.

  • Limited isolation movements – I’ve seen better biceps development from pull-ups than from concentration curls; it does not mean you can’t do them but do include a compound movement in your program.


Q4: How many reps should I start with?

That’s always been a question that I’ve found it hard to find that answer to, so instead, I choose to look at it from a percentage standpoint.

We want to keep the weight and rep range about 60% of your 1RM or a rep range around 12-20 per set/attempt and a total of 50 reps.


Q5: Do I ONLY have to add one rep at a time or can I do more?

I’ve played with this one a bit, and you can add more, but again this all depends on your recovery.

We’ve found that one to two reps added per workout cause just enough damage to still elicit a muscle growth response and still allows us to recover reasonably quickly. When we tried adding more, we noticed that people couldn’t recover enough and were too broken down for the next workout; they would still get results but not as quickly.

The goal of this type of training is muscle STIMULATION, not complete annihilation.

Experiment and see what works for you but remember just as long as you do at least one more rep than the last workout you’ll get the results you are wanting.


Q6: Can I do HFT on the same days as my “other” workouts?

Again this is going to depend on recovery and your body.

I have some clients who can do specific HFT programs in conjunction with their training, but I have found that it depends on the program.

Below is an example of an HFT chest program we have built for a client that has one heavy push session a week. For him, we have found that heavy push session taxes his muscles and leaves him feeling VERY sore for a day or two afterward so doing HFT on that day wasn’t the best. He still gets his chest worked four times a week but one is a heavy bench day, and the others are just HFT for growth.

If you were to do an HFT program say for your calves, I’m confident that won’t get in the way of some other routines, except cardio could be a bit painful when you start.

Can You Train The Same Muscle In Every Workout | Rowlett Transformation Center | Sample Program
(here is an example of an HFT workout I had one of my clients doing, we brought this down to three days a week since he has a heavy push session each week)


Q7: How long can I do HFT?

We’ve found that most people will eventually tap out at about 4-5 week marker. When you reach that point, I would recommend backing off that exercise or even muscle group for 7-10 days just to let your body and nervous system get a little bit more time to heal.

Even though the benefit of this style of training is increased training frequency eventually, your body just needs a break.

After a week off you can pick another muscle or movement to work on improving.

Don’t be fearful about losing any gains you made during this either, as long as you are still engaging the muscle in some way you’ll keep your development.


What to do now?

Ok, now that was a LOT of information so your head may be swimming with, “ok, now what the heck do I do?”

I’ll make this simple for you.

You can build an excel sheet (recommend) to keep track of your volume throughout the weeks (recommend). But I’m sure that some of you have had enough of blinking cursors in your face daily and don’t want to have to look at a piece of paper, or your phones, to see what you have to do.

If that is the case, then I want you to go to the above list of exercises and pick ONE to add to your program.

Do as many reps with YOUR exercise that you picked in three sets (make sure that your first set that you’re getting in 15-20 reps) and remember the total reps you did of those three sets.

Now… here is the easy part.

Just do 1 more rep than that for your next session (should average about every other day), then you add another rep for the third workout and so on.

Do this for 4-6 weeks adding a rep each time you do that exercise that week.

REMEMBER to change the exercise variation each workout as well, that is the KEY to the program.


Here is a general timeline of what you can expect to feel over the coming weeks.

Week 1: Oh this is easy but I’m getting a good pump every workout.

Week 2: I think my muscle is bigger! Send Travis an email saying thanks

Week 3: Holy crap this hurts.. (Too sore to send me an email but you are thinking bad thoughts).

Week 4: Achy pain. The pain is then worth sending me an angry email telling me how horrible of a person I am for having you do this

Week 5: Your thinking well this has gotten easier and I’m a chap at ‘said’ movement

Week 6: Go buy newer clothes because your old ones just don’t fit the same way.

Your welcome 😉


One More Thing

Before I stop with this ridiculously long blog something that you’re going to want to take into account is that you’ll be working out a lot, so preparation and recovery is a MUST for you to help survive this.

Before EVERY HFT session make sure that you lacrosse ball the target muscles and STRETCH the heck out of it when you’re done. If you happen to forget you’ll understand why the next session.

I would also recommend increasing your fish oil consumption to aid in the recovery process and also keep on top of your nutrition.

No point in getting sore and not getting the body that you want.


Sample Routines

Back and Biceps

Exercise: Pull-ups
Day 1: 50 Pull-ups hands facing forward
Day 2: 52 Pull-ups hands facing towards you
Day 3: 54 Pull-ups hands facing each other
Day 4: 56 Pull-ups in rings (let your hands move however they want)
*Rest one day between each day and keep progressing until you have completed 5 weeks.


Chest and Triceps

Exercise: Dips
Day 1: 50 Dips hands wide
Day 2: 52 Dips hands narrow
Day 3: 54 Dips hands in rings
*Rest one day between each day and keep progressing until you have completed 5 weeks.



Exercise: Speed Cycling
Day 1: Sprint Intervals on spin bike 50/90 x 6
Day 2: Sprint Intervals on spin bike 50/90 x 7
Day 3: Sprint Intervals on spin bike 50/90 x 8
*Rest one day between each day and keep progressing until you have completed 5 weeks.
**Set the resistance on a challenging setting where you averaging 60-70 RPMs
*** 50/90 = 50sec of work, 90sec rest/recovery



Exercise: Barbell Hip Thrust
Day 1: 50 reps feet wide
Day 2: 52 reps feet medium width
Day 3: 54 reps feet narrow
*Rest one day between each day and keep progressing until you have completed 5 weeks.
** Since this is one of the few weight loaded exercises that I’m recommending pick a weight you can handle for 15-20 reps with GOOD form.



In Health and Awesomeness,

Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.

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