You recommend just two or three workouts per week, but all the big-name bodybuilders train more often than that. Why?
Because the training frequency that works well for the big names doesn’t work well for typical bodybuilders.
Due to their genetics, and drug support, not only do the pros have a much greater potential for muscle development than normal bodybuilders, they have a much greater tolerance of exercise without overtraining, and a much greater recovery ability. Those factors are the primary explanations for why the pros do well on high-volume, high-frequency training.
My general recommendation on training frequency for typical hard gainers is two full-body workouts each week. Alternate two different sets of exercises, but deadlift just once a week. Do no more than six exercises each workout. Make four of them major compound exercises—for example, squat, bench press, chin-up, and seated overhead press.
If the right selection of four major compound exercises is made, and they are performed properly, each routine will train pretty much the entire musculature of your physique, either directly or indirectly. And the option of one or two isolation exercises in each routine provides supplementary work where required.
But the routines will work only if you use correct exercise technique, train hard enough, eat enough, sleep enough, and keep getting stronger by making gradual increases in your exercise poundages.
Get in the gym, have a terrific workout, rest 72 to 96 hours to recover properly, then get back in for another dose of intensive exercise, then rest another 72 to 96 hours to recover properly, and so on.
That’s the best training frequency for hard gainers.
Not only are just two workouts a week super practical, especially for busy people, but such a format will probably work better for you than more frequent workouts provided that you train properly when you’re in the gym, and fully attend to the components of recuperation out of the gym.
I know these routines are simple compared to what the pros and other super easy gainers do, but these simple routines are what work best for typical hard gainers.
Put these routines to the test—but apply them properly—and then you’ll discover for yourself how wonderfully effective they are.
What’s the best way to do the bent-over lateral raise?
Unless you already have big muscles, and are focusing on the fine details of your physique, the best thing to do with the bent-over lateral raise is to ignore it.
The bent-over lateral raise primarily targets the posterior (rear) deltoids. But provided you do some form of the row properly, you’ll train not just your lats and the smaller muscles of your upper back, but also your posterior delts.
Typical natural bodybuilders don’t have the ability to prosper on high-volume and high-frequency training, so they should use as few exercises as are necessary to do the job well. Then they can most readily train hard enough to stimulate growth, but while avoiding overtraining.
The more training you do, the less likely you’ll be able to train hard enough to stimulate muscle growth. But even if you do train hard enough, excessive volume and frequency will produce overtraining, and you’ll still make little or no progress.
Typical natural bodybuilders can’t build substantial muscle size and work on the small details at the same time. Today’s champion bodybuilders could do both at the same time when they were building their mass, but what they could do (because of their exceptional genetics, and drug support), most bodybuilders can’t.
Is there any difference in effect between the cable one-arm lateral raise and the dumbbell one-arm lateral raise?
While such a detail may be of importance to already well-developed bodybuilders, it’s irrelevant for most typical bodybuilders, whose priority is to build 20+ pounds of muscle.
But that sort of detail, and similar issues concerning other isolation exercises, distract countless typical bodybuilders from what really matters. And that distraction plays a big part in explaining why those bodybuilders make little or no progress.
Once you’re satisfied with your muscle mass, and you shift to matters of detail and refinement, perhaps then whether you use the cable or the dumbbell version of the one-arm lateral raise will have significance.
Rather than think about lateral raises, focus on building the next 10 pounds on your overhead press (in correct technique, of course), achieve that, then focus on building the next 10 pounds, and so on.
Rather than think about leg extensions, focus on building the next 20 pounds on your squat or parallel grip deadlift (in correct technique, of course), achieve that, then focus on building the next 20 pounds, and so on.
Rather than think about cable crossovers, focus on building the next 15 pounds on your bench press or parallel bar dip (in correct technique, of course), achieve that, then focus on building the next 15 pounds, and so on.
And apply the same principle to other body parts.
Adopt the right priorities!