Training Frequency: How Often Should You Train?

If you’ve been looking for a training routine online, you’ve most probably come across the typical “bro-split” meaning a workout program that makes you train one specific muscle one time per week giving it a full week rest.

Is there a scientific reason behind that training protocol? Is this optimal for muscle growth? Let’s find out.

Training frequency is a hotly debated topic within the fitness industry. Most lifters and fitness magazines advocate a training frequency of 1x/week.

However, what most people don’t realize is most athletes in fitness magazines are on performance enhancing drugs. If you are a natural lifter you want to train differently in order to optimize muscle growth.

Why do I need to increase training frequency? Don’t I need to rest? 

At first, we need to understand how muscles grow. And the answer is protein synthesis.

When you train at the gym, by lifting heavy weights you are initiating a process where proteins will be damaged and new stronger ones will be built. Your muscle tissue gets rebuilt thanks to protein synthesis making your muscles bigger in the process.

From research we know how protein synthesis works. Synthesis is elevated for 36 to 48 hours after your training then returns back to its baseline. This means that after this time frame your trained muscle is repaired and ready to train.

So why would you wait a week before training that muscle again?

How hard you’ve trained a specific muscle won’t extend protein synthesis, only muscle soreness. Therefore, you can take advantage of protein synthesis and hit your muscle again.

So how often should I train?

The most important factor in resistance training is the total volume per week. So optimal training is done by increasing your training frequency while reducing your volume per workout.

By training a muscle multiple times per week you are able to take advantage of protein synthesis and greater muscle growth.

Compared to a body part split routine, natural lifters can see better results with routines such as a full body, upper/lower body split or push pull leg routines which produces greater frequency and lower volume.

If you are interested in a customized workout plan, leave me a message and I can design a routine that is tailored to your needs and to your lifestyle.

Why are bodypart splits so popular? What does science say?

Researcher Brad Schoenfeld published a 2016 study testing the effects of different training frequencies on two groups of subjects.

One group trained each muscle group once per week while the other trained 2 or 3 times per week. The group with a higher frequency experienced a 3.1% higher muscle growth.

In contrast with this study, a 2018 research concluded the opposite where one time per week frequency yielded higher muscle growth. However, this study was poorly designed and seems to be showing the benefits of switching routines for advanced lifters.

Therefore, for natural lifters, it is recommended to stick to a high frequency low volume routine.

How can I focus efficiently on every muscle with a full body routine?

The answer is total volume per workout

You won’t be doing as many exercises and sets per muscle on one workout. Instead, the total volume of training one muscle will be spread throughout the week. Let me give you an example:

Let’s take the Pecs for example:

With a Full Body routine done 3 times a week:

Workout Day 1

Barbell Bench press: 3 sets of 5 reps

Incline Bench press 3×5

Pull-Ups

Lat Pulldown

Workout Day 2

Incline DB Press 3x 8-12

Close Grip Bench Press 2x 6-8

Barbell Rows

Lat Pulldown

Workout Day 3

Barbell Bench Press 3×8-12

Decline Machine Press 3×10

Barbell Rows

Total number of sets: 18

Body Part split: Pecs once a week

Bench press 4 sets of 5 reps

Incline DB Press 4×8

Decline bench press 3×10-12

Dips 4×8-12

Cable Flyes 3×10-15

Total number of sets: 18

In conclusion, the total volume will be the same. However, you will take full advantage of protein synthesis by increasing your frequency.

You will also be able to progress better since doing more than 4 exercises solely for the chest on one workout (as done in the body part split) will make it difficult to lift heavier weights.

The objective of a full body routine is not to do as many exercises as possible per day. This will be detrimental to your gains. Stick to the same overall volume on each muscle and you’ll be fine.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and let me know your thoughts on the full body routine and the “bro-split” in the comment section below. Talk soon!

If It Fits Your Macros IIFYM –The Optimal Guide to Flexible Dieting

If you have started to care about your diet and your health you’ve most probably come across articles or videos talking about “If It Fits Your Marcos (IIFYM). Actually, this form of eating has its own website where they bring up the possibility to eat junk food while getting leaner.

But is eating everything you desire the ultimate goal of IIFYM philosophy or is it just an excuse to indulge in junk food?

Let’s find out.

How does it work?

IIFYM is a form of eating based on tracking your caloric intakes instead of focusing on a “one-size fits all approach”. It’s relatively “new” as a popular dieting ideology in the fitness world and bodybuilders have been doing this flexible dieting approach for a long time already.

IIFYM focuses on meeting daily macronutrients targets and not specific meals to reach your objectives. So instead of just tracking your calories, which lacks structure, IIFYM diet gives you specific macronutrients goals to reach per day which in total equals the number of calories required for you to lose fat or build muscles. You are then allowed to eat whatever you want as long as your caloric goals and macronutrients (I will explain what they are shortly) objectives are reached. It’s a form of eating that relies on science and on the principle that not a specific food will make you fat. You feed your body to tailor specific metabolic demands as long as “It Fits Your Macros” which are macronutrients requirements.

What are macronutrients?

Macronutrients are any of the three basic nutritional components of diets such as carbohydrates (carbs), fats (lipids) and proteins. Each one of these macronutrients provide energy to the body in form of calories. For instance, carbs and protein contain 4 calories per gram while fats have 9 calories per gram.

In other words, when you look at a and it says the food contains 12g of carbs, 8g of proteins and 0g of fats, this food has 80 calories.

With flexible dieting, you plan your meals with a certain amount of protein, carbs and fats based on your fitness goal (lose fat or build muscle). You still have to count your calories and use a bit of basic algebra.

For example, if I want to lose fat, I usually eat around 2000 calories per day. These 2000 calories are broken down in 180g of protein, 195g of carbs and 55g of fats. As you can start to see it’s a form of calorie counting. Now, you might have been used to read about how certain foods contain so much calories and you need to avoid them. Well, as long as you hit your macronutrients target for the day, the foods I eat won’t affect my body composition negatively.

Sounds unbelievable right? But it’s science. As long as I hit my macros goals, I will either lose fat or build muscles.

Look at the following example:

440 calories, 24g protein, 56g carbs, 16g fats in 2 slices of Hawaiian pizza

Equals:

440 calories, 24g protein, 56g carbs, 16g fats derived from tuna with brown rice and olive oil.

I know it sounds crazy… Is it too good to be true?

Is the IIFYM diet effective?

YES! It is a way of eating that makes your life easier and help you achieve your goals if you apply the principles correctly. Let’s talk about how it works.

Even at rest your body burns energy each day, and it is measured in calories. A calorie is the amount of energy required to heat up one kilogram of water one degree Celsius. Your body is an efficient machine and turns food into calories regardless of where it comes from.

Do you see some people regularly eating junk food and candy without gaining weight? It’s not only about their metabolism. As long as your body burns more energy that it receives, weight loss will occur. There have been several experiments where a person eats junk food every day and is still able to lose weight. Remember that we are talking strictly about losing weight and not fat so far.

This is the reason why the diet is called “If It Fits Your Macros” because the goal is not only to count calories but also to track your macronutrients. It’s a for more superior way of dieting since this approach takes into account body composition.

When you go on a caloric deficit you will lose weight. This decrease in weight could be a reduction in fat as well as water or muscle mass. In order to avoid losing muscle mass you will need to get enough protein per day while you apply stress to your muscles in order to make them grow (by weightlifting or calisthenics). A certain level of fats is required for hormone synthesis and you need enough carbohydrates as a source of energy and to provide your muscles with glycogen while exercising.

This way of eating is extremely interesting for bodybuilders and athletes since we experience different cycles between intense training before a competition and off season. While you might lose and gain weight throughout the year you don’t want to lose too much of your muscle mass in the process. Additionally, what one eats in order to reach his/her macronutrients targets is not key to this diet approach. Carbs coming from pasta, bread or candy will be turned into glucose just like carbs coming from green vegetables or brown bread. Proteins from hamburgers are still made of amino acids chains as well as fresh tuna.

Well, this would be just so easy to think that way. After all, is food only fuel for your body or is there more to it than just macronutrients?

Make great gains at the gym while eating unhealthy food? It’s delusional

Food is not only fuel for your body. It is more than that. The body needs micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals to function properly. Most junk and processed foods lack these micronutrients. Additionally, the added ingredients and sauces that make the food taste good are mostly empty calories (they are not nutrient dense). Having a “cleaner” diet provides your body with enough micronutrients and will help you feel more satiated.

Regularly eating junk food has been associated with vitamins deficiencies and cause various type of health problem (chronic disease, diabetes, cancer and more). Plus, you will weaken your overall immune system and be more prone to catch viruses. So, it is a wiser decision to keep this kind of food in moderation. You could technically still eat junk food and get an impressive physique, but your immune system and overall health will be messed up. Always put health first.

How should I use IIFYM and how do I count my macros?

As I mentioned earlier in this post, I believe flexible dieting is an extremely good approach to reach your fitness goals. I personally add the following principles to make it work:

  • 80-90% of the daily calories should come from healthy food
  • If you decide to indulge, be reasonable and always aim for the healthiest option
  • 10g of fiber per 1000 calories
  • Avoid trans fats as much as possible
  • No meal timing necessary as long as you hit your daily macronutrients goals

Of courses there are some basic good habits that make you reach your goals such as eating more green vegetables (“more volume”). You won’t feel like you are dieting, and you will definitely feel fuller than if you decide to hit your carbohydrates target solely with starches for instance. You still have to adopt a “clean eating” approach most of the time if you want to hit your macros goals regularly. Calories from processed and junk foods add up quite fast.

People who will benefit the most from IIFYM are those you are unaware of what they are eating and those who have issue eating chicken and steamed veggies every day. When you don’t enjoy your diet, you become more prone to binge eating and give up. You either make excuses for not sticking to your meal plan or you feel bad and binge eat. In other words, you don’t have a plan for when you make mistakes or need to improvise. This is why flexible dieting makes your life much easier. With IIFYM, you are able to replace certain foods such as pasta for a bowl of oatmeal, eat your meals whenever you want, and you can also fit some of your favorite treats in moderation.

You can play around, eat whenever you feel like it, skip breakfast, have most of your meals in the evening etc. It’s a good experience.

As long as you focus on eating healthy micronutrients rich foods first you are free and feel more confident adding your favorite treats. It might take some personal investment for you to make sure you track quantities properly. Remain persistent, honest with yourself and allow some room for mistakes so you can understand what works best for you.

For example, I love eating cereals at night before going to sleep. Instead of eating my cereals with regular milk I use a cup of skim milk, so I get some protein intake without adding fats. I also like dark chocolate from time to time so I include it into my diet while choosing a healthy version of the dark chocolate (85% cacao). To the extreme, I allow myself to get ice cream of junk food while out with my friends, but I do it in a controlled manner. I plan the rest of my meals, so the junk food has less impact on my daily caloric needs.

This is the best way to make IIFYM and flexible dieting work for you. I eat 90% clean foods and I’ll have a treat here and there. There is no “cheat meal” in IIFYM philosophy. Everything is under control.

To track your calories, you can use an app such as MyFitnessPal. It is extremely popular and reliable. It tracks your steps, you can add your exercises for the day and your water intake. There is a also a supportive community around the app, and regular blog articles with recipes and tips to reach your goals.

It’s a good idea to make your own calculation regarding your calorie intake and MyFitnessPal make it easy for you to understand your macronutrients breakdown for the day. You can plan your diet, play around and experiment. Say you will go out clubbing with friends, then you can decide to include your alcohol intake in the app and play around to see what meals you are able to eat before going out (or after) in order to be able to reach your macronutrients needs. There is nothing complicated. A few minutes a day should be sufficient. Also, I recommend investing in a kitchen scale, it will make your life easier. When you weigh your carbs such as rice and pasta, use the uncooked weight always. You can use the cooked rice and pasta weight to make your meal preparation easier.

Is IIFYM the right diet for you?

It will most probably work for you. You should at least give it a try. You will get a good understanding of macronutrients, body composition and nutrition.

It’s possible that it won’t work for some people. Some folks like to eat the same foods every day and stick to a meal plan. I personally believe you should build a strong discipline first and commit to eat strictly clean foods for a couple of weeks. Once you build the discipline and see the benefits of clean foods for your body (improved digestion, increase of energy) you won’t feel like going back to junk food. You might want to loosen up from time to time so you can enjoy your social life since it might be difficult to have all your entourage eating solely clean foods.

The right diet is the one that works for you. Though, I believe that IIFYM covers most diet out there. You can be Vegan, follow a Keto or Paleo, even intermittent fasting and still take a flexible dieting approach. It’s highly compatible with IIFYM philosophy.

Conclusion/bottom line on IIFYM

I am definitely not telling you to binge-eat pizza and soda because it fits your macro. As long as your diet is based around healthy food and you exercise regularly, there is no reason not to include some chocolate or pastries here and there as long as it’s compatible with your macronutrient’s goals. Tracking your macros and caloric requirements works and makes your life easier. With a little bit of common sense and an effort to base your diet around healthy foods at least 80% of the time, eating your favorite slice of pizza or cake won’t affect your body composition.

Understand that you are building a lifestyle and not a diet to lose weight fast. Ensure sufficient intake of fiber (it will make you feel fuller) minerals and vitamins. Your success depends on your ability to remain consistent and reach your goals every day.

Also, more importantly, your long-term health is superior than reaching your macronutrient goals. It is compatible of course but make sure that your diet matches your goals and give you sufficient energy.

With that said, enjoy the foods you crave with moderation (if you crave green veggies: lucky you!) while reaching your fitness and health goals.

High Protein – Low Fat Omelette

Eggs can become a staple in your diet. When you are not sure what to eat, a good option is to make yourself an omelet.  You can control the amount of fat and calories by removing the yolk and using cooking oil spray. Let’s cook now!

Cooking time: less than 5 minutes

Nutrition facts for 1 omelet:

  • Calories 435
  • Total Fat 28g
  • Total Carbohydrates 4g
  • Protein 49g

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs (keep 1-2 yolks maximum)
  • 100g of sliced turkey
  • 1 tomato
  • 3 medium sized mushrooms
  • 1 tea spoon of butter or cooking spray
  • 1 small onion
  • Salt, Pepper, Basil

Preparation

Step One:  Crack four eggs into a bowl and beat until smooth and well mixed. The colour of the mixture should be more yellow than white.

Step Two: Dice the tomatoes and turkey and slice the onions up very small.

Step Three: Add a tablespoon of butter (or use cooking spray) to a medium-heat pan and when hot dump in the tomatoes and turkey and fry for two minutes.

Step four:  Pour in the egg mixture and spread it evenly throughout the pan and allow to set.

Step five: When the omelette takes on a ‘harder’ form flip it over. The underside should be cooked slightly but not so much that it’s impossible to fold.

Step seven: Add the sliced onions to the top of the omelette, flip over and do likewise on the other side. These give it a delicious flavour. Season the omelette with salt and pepper.

Filling options

  • Add Cottage cheese
  • Switch turkey for slices of chicken breast

Bon Appétit!

The Fit French Instagram => @thefitfrench

Easy Low-Fat Protein Pancakes Recipe

Most of us don’t associate pancakes with being fit but the reality is that you can make them enjoyable and healthy. It’s all about the ingredients you put in.

Nutrition facts for 1 pancake:

  • Calories 95
  • Total fat 3g
  • Total Carbohydrates 8g
  • Protein 9g

Ingredients:

  • 25g (1 scoop) of whey protein powder
  • 100ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 1 tea spoon cinnamon
  • ¼ tea spoon baking powder
  • light cooking spray

Preparation

black and gray metal tool
  • Add the oats, protein powder, baking powder, egg milk and cinnamon to the blender and mix until you have a texture like pancake butter (the texture should not be thin like you would do for a crepe but thicker).
little girl cooking
  • Heat a lightly oiled frying pan (preferably oil spray or low fat cooking oil like Pam oil) over medium high heat Pour the mixture onto the pan, using ¼ of the mixture for each protein pancake.
blur breakfast close up dairy product
  • Cook the pancake for about 50 seconds until the bottom is light brown. Use a flexible spatula to flip over the pancake and cook the other side. Serve hot with the filling of your choice.

Filling options

healthy yellow banana fresh

  • 1 banana
  • 1 teaspoon of organic peanut butter
  • 4-5 raspberry per pancake
  • sugar-free syrup

Enjoy!

photo of pancake with fruits

You can find protein powder, sugar free syrup and cooking oil spray online on website such as myprotein.com for example.

Do you have any preference for your pancakes ? How do you like them? Let us know in the comment section below.

Bon appétit!

How to Lose Fat in 3 Steps

Losing your body fat should not be this complicated task. It requires some discipline and understanding how your body functions in general.

Step 1: Compute Your Daily Caloric Needs

Get your daily caloric needs using an online calculator and use a fitness application such as myfitnesspal. Track your calories and write down your calories. This should take five minutes per day maximum.

Step 2: Compute Your Macronutrients Needs

Macronutrients are the main food components: protein, carbohydrates and lipids (or fats). You need to have a balanced diet taking into account these macros so it required understanding the function of each of them. Computing how much protein, carbs and fats you can eat per day is a more flexible form of calorie counting. You can use an app like “myfitnesspal” to calculate your macro needs.

A meal plan is not necessary but you should know how much macronutrients you can eat per day. I recommend a breakdown like this one: 35% of your food should be of protein source, 50% carbs and 15% fat. It’s a realistic breakdown and you will focus on good quality products only.

Step 3: Weigh Yourself Daily And Adjust Your Calories Weekly

Use a body fat scale everyday at the same time of the day and write down your weight and body fat. Don’t freak out! make a weekly average of your results. The body fat will change with the amount of water in your body.

Each week, see if your weight is going down. If not, lower calories by 200 (if your total calories was 2000 per day, try to eat 1800 calories).

If you can’t eat less food, add some cardio exercises (walking, running whatever makes you happy). Cardio won’t help you lose weight but it will allow you to eat more! Cardio burns calories not fat! To burn fat you have to lower your calorie intake.

What Next ?

Avoid any sort of junk or processed food. Learn discipline first, invest the best food for your body and cut on sugar and alcohol. It’s recommended to have some reference meals. For instance 120g of cooked rice (or two hand cupped), two chicken breasts, 200g of green veggies, one tea spoon of olive oil, some spices. That’s a reference meal to help me reach my macronutrients need for the day. If I don’t have time to cook a salmon bagel is a good option as well, 4 egg whites etc.

When you start to see result you can relax a bit and eat some sweets but you will quicky understand that it’s not neccessary for your body. We are bombarded all day by ads and incentives to buy food we don’d want to eat. Food is in abundance so learning how to only eat what is necessary will build your character.

Good Luck And Don’t Give Up!

For more, check my youtube video below on 3 easy steps to lose weight: