Ultra High Frequency Body Part Specialization

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by a.s.arghmatey, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. a.s.arghmatey

    a.s.arghmatey Member

    I've searched the forum, but I haven't found a thread dedicated to this. The customization sticky got me started, but left me with more questions.

    Background: I'm not a body builder by any means. I started doing Crossfit 2 years ago to save money on my health insurance. As a side effect, I love the physique I've developed, with the exception of my tiny biceps. I would like to focus on high frequency specialization for those guys, while continuing Crossfit to maintain everything else. Here are my questions:

    1. Frequency - how much is too much?
      • 2 times a day seems to be a common practice for specialization. Is 3 times OK? What about 4 or 5? We have a small gym where I work, and it's no trouble for me to pop in and do 15 dumbbell curls every few hours.
    2. How often can I go to failure?
      • I understand that going to failure all the time can cause CNS fatigue, but I wouldn't expect this to be a problem with such a small muscle. I imagine much of the standard 15, 10, 5, progression of HST programing is meant to spare the CNS. For specialization, any reason I shouldn't just go to failure with each workout, and just slowly increase the weight (which would respectively decrease the reps)?
    3. Can I substitute speed for weight increase?
      • The dumbbells I have access to go up in 5lb increments. My 5 rep max is around 30lbs. This makes the standard, constant incrementation difficult. I can get more reps in at any weight if I use a 2 second rest in-between reps, I can also move from alternating arms, to doing both at the same time.
      • Or perhaps I could increase my reps for each weight until I it my max?
      • Or should I just invest in some 0.5lb weights to use with the EZ curl bar (we have one in the gym at my work)?

    I can't wait to read the responses. Thanks in advance.
  2. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    One day a week at most
  3. a.s.arghmatey

    a.s.arghmatey Member

    Love the simplicity, lol. Except for the first one (my fault for asking three questions in one). So you are saying that it is OK for me to do this 5 times a day?

    Thanks again
  4. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    You said "biceps" but I expect you were really referring to your "arm" size. The biggest potential of an arm's size is the triceps, not the biceps. You can curl until the cows come home and still not have large arms.

    I recently did a lat specialization program doing 6 sets of neutral grip chin ups 6 days per week performing one set every two hours for a 6 week period. The results were fantastic. I started at a light load (15 reps) and ended up with a very heavy load doing negative sets of 5 reps every two hours. However, you need to have a decent muscular base before you try anything like that.
  5. a.s.arghmatey

    a.s.arghmatey Member

    Arm size is not an issue. I'm happy with my triceps. They seem to grow rather fast. I was getting complimented on them after my first month in Crossfit. My biceps, however, are disproportionately small.

    What are negative sets?
  6. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Biceps make up slightly less than 1/3 of upper-arm muscle mass.Additionally, larger triceps will make your biceps 'push out' more, ala appear bigger.However, if you're determined to focus on them (and they are a TINY muscle, frankly), I would focus on doing exercises that are actually going to make them bigger; supinated chins, underhand grip rows, dead lifts etc.30lb curls don't lead to 17" cannons, I'm pretty sure they don't lead to 15" rifles either. You need to be applying real load across them.
  7. a.s.arghmatey

    a.s.arghmatey Member

    Interesting. I can do 15 chin ups in a row, but I can only do 5 or 6 30lb dumbbell curls. Wouldn't that mean that the 30 pound dumbbell curls are loading the muscle more?

    Also, how would you work chin ups as an HST routine?
  8. a.s.arghmatey

    a.s.arghmatey Member

    Interesting. I can do 15 chin ups in a row, but I can only do 5 or 6 30lb dumbbell curls. Wouldn't that mean that the 30 pound dumbbell curls are loading the muscle more?

    Also, how would you work chin ups as an HST routine?
  9. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ideally by using an assisted chin machine during the 15s until you can add weight. Count total load (bodyweight+added weight) when planning out load progression for chins/dips/etc.
  10. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    If you want biceps, go with the dumbell curls. For many of us, we get plenty of bicep work during back work, but nothing beats curls for targeting the biceps. I like straight bar curls, or dumbell concentration curls.
    Be careful with high-frequency, can lead to overtraining quickly if load or volume is also high.
  11. adpowah

    adpowah Active Member

    Back in high school I was all about biceps, abs and bench... Anyways point being I found a lot of success in high frequency (sets of 5 for 12 reps, 3 times a week) on the preacher thingy with the bent bar. I found I could train my biceps every other day easily, however I wasn't doing pullups or deadlifts or really any other good exercise (other than bench) while I was doing this so take that with a grain of salt.
  12. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Ultra high frequency is not particularly useful for isolation exercises for small muscles like biceps. As mentioned by several people, incorporating a compound exercise like chins, which work the lats primarily but also the biceps, is more suited to high frequency.

    If you are right handed and an experienced lifter, you may have a better developed left bicep than the right bicep. Sounds counter-intuitive eh? This is because your right-handedness works the right biceps much more than the left in everyday activities such as carrying groceries or other mundane activities, even flipping pages in a book. These are actually exercises although we typically do not think of them as such. Because it is such a small muscle, all this extra frequency actually shrinks the right bicep. (Overtraining???) I do not know the reason why, perhaps a change in the molecular structure of the muscle to accommodate endurance, but I have noticed it many, many times. I have also noticed it, but to a lesser extent, in my right calf being smaller than my left and I am right-footed.

    When it comes to working my biceps specifically, I like to use a "cheat" technique. I use a weight heavier than I can actually strictly curl for the intended number of reps. I use "body english" like swaying, etc. to get the weight up in the concentric part of the move and control as slowly as possible during the down or eccentric portion of the move. Size wise, my biceps respond much better to to eccentrics than concentrics...more so than my other, larger muscles. It is the only exercise that I consciously cheat with and I just consider it form of negatives.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2014
  13. wungun

    wungun Member

    I'm with O&G on the bicep work...
    I do 1 set of barbell curls in my HST workout...
    75lbs + bar for 5 reps is right at my max...I need some "English" to get it up on the last 2 reps, but lower that sucka' down SLOW every rep.
    My arms get plenty of work on my other exercises also.
    As for frequency, every other day should be plenty. However, I like the idea of your specialization routine too...
  14. a.s.arghmatey

    a.s.arghmatey Member

    So far it's working great. Already noticing difference. Sore all the time though.
  15. jasonjm2005

    jasonjm2005 New Member

    I am in 2nd cycle of HST on restricted calorie diet now, and cutting....gotta tell you guys not sure if this is correct or if others can do it, but I am doing the same 10 exercise workout every 2 days, with 5 rep max, 2 sets per exercise and every single set to failure. Been doing this for 3 weeks now maybe more.and the funny thing? I am making ridiculous strength gains. People at gym are asking how its possible.....And I am hardly that sore the next day, feel fine, usually go swimming or go play racketball or go ride my bike.
  16. Clayton

    Clayton Member

    I would do some type of progression instead of high everything all at once. If you're not doing direct bicep work very much already, increasing it every week or two should make them grow. If you're doing high volume for the next two weeks, what do you do the third to keep progressing?

    Say, weighted chins for a week (or longer if the weight is still moving up) 3x/week for reps of 4 to 6. Anywhere from 2 to 5 sets. I would take at least 3 seconds on the negative instead of quickly knocking them out. After that (a week or two) I would then add in heavy bb curls for similar sets/reps after the chin work (2 or 3 sets of chins). Then heavy negatives with curls (barbells). Then heavy curls with chins immediately after. Then dumbell work.

    I would still do some tricep work or dips between sets. Rough idea here: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/seth7.htm. I've never heard anyone complain that their triceps are too big.
  17. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Jasonjm2005 - that's perfectly normal for someone training with high load and high frequency but low volume per session.If more people trained that way (aka sensibly), there would be a far smaller market for magic bullet routines.Most powerlifters, olympic lifters and professional athletes train with at least that frequency, and certainly a similar load range 3-8rm
  18. Old and Grey

    Old and Grey Super Moderator Staff Member

    Jason, I agree with Alex. Your volume and frequency seem to be spot on for max gains. However, I personally would not take the sets to failure for more than 2 weeks at 5 reps (after taking 2 weeks to work up to my max). It is at that point that I seem to burn out physically and emotionally. However, you younger guys may be able to double that amount.
  19. Joe.Muscle

    Joe.Muscle Active Member

    Alex and Old and Gray are right.

    I have been doing full body workouts 6 days a week now since December / January....and after 20 years of lifting I have gained about 4 pounds of lean mass and my waist has gotten a little smaller.

    I am just progressing when I can sometimes I progress every week other times It might be 3 weeks before I progress but I stay away from failure and love it.

    I don't every see myself NOT training daily ever again and this is coming from a guy who been working out 20 years.

    I start this after reading Borge Fagerli article on how he was training full body daily....after all the years of training this is my favorite!
  20. Sci

    Sci Well-Known Member

    frequency is where most gym rats fail. it isn't all that helpful to do 10 sets of an exercise, or to train to extreme failure, if you are only doing it once/week or less.

    I still think 2-3x/week is ideal, as most of scientific studies all agree on that.
    And keeping the volume decently high is important to maximize hypertophy, as Bryan and Lyle and other physiology geeks have pointed out recently.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014

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