Effect of Resistance Training Frequency on Gains in Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

  • Jozo Grgic
  • Brad J. Schoenfeld
  • Timothy B. Davies
  • Bruno Lazinica
  • James W. Krieger
  • Zeljko Pedisic
Systematic Review



Current recommendations on resistance training (RT) frequency for gains in muscular strength are based on extrapolations from limited evidence on the topic, and thus their practical applicability remains questionable.


To elucidate this issue, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the studies that compared muscular strength outcomes with different RT frequencies.


To carry out this review, English-language literature searches of the PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, and SPORTDiscus databases were conducted. The meta-analysis was performed using a random-effects model. The meta-analysis models were generated with RT frequencies classified as a categorical variable as either 1, 2, 3, or 4+ times/week, or, if there were insufficient data in subgroup analyses, the training frequencies were categorized as 1, 2, or 3 times/week. Subgroup analyses were performed for potential moderators, including (1) training volume; (2) exercise selection for the 1 repetition maximum (RM) test (for both multi-joint and single-joint exercises); (3) upper and lower body strength gains; (4) training to muscular failure (for studies involving and not involving training to muscular failure); (5) age (for both middle-aged/older adults and young adults); and (6) sex (for men and for women). The methodological quality of studies was appraised using the modified Downs and Black checklist.


A total of 22 studies were found to meet the inclusion criteria. The average score on the Downs and Black checklist was 18 (range 13–22 points). Four studies were classified as being of good methodological quality, while the rest were classified as being of moderate methodological quality. Results of the meta-analysis showed a significant effect (p = 0.003) of RT frequency on muscular strength gains. Effect sizes increased in magnitude from 0.74, 0.82, 0.93, and 1.08 for training 1, 2, 3, and 4+ times per week, respectively. A subgroup analysis of volume-equated studies showed no significant effect (p = 0.421) of RT frequency on muscular strength gains. The subgroup analysis for exercise selection for the 1RM test suggested a significant effect of RT frequency on multi-joint (p < 0.001), but not single-joint, 1RM test results (p = 0.324). The subgroup analysis for upper and lower body showed a significant effect of frequency (p = 0.004) for upper body, but not lower body, strength gains (p = 0.070). In the subgroup analysis for studies in which the training was and was not carried out to muscular failure, no significant effect of RT frequency was found. The subgroup analysis for the age groups suggested a significant effect of training frequency among young adults (p = 0.024), but not among middle-aged and older adults (p = 0.093). Finally, the subgroup analysis for sex indicated a significant effect of RT frequency on strength gains in women (p = 0.030), but not men (p = 0.190).


The results of the present systematic review and meta-analysis suggest a significant effect of RT frequency as higher training frequencies are translated into greater muscular strength gains. However, these effects seem to be primarily driven by training volume because when the volume is equated, there was no significant effect of RT frequency on muscular strength gains. Thus, from a practical standpoint, greater training frequencies can be used for additional RT volume, which is then likely to result in greater muscular strength gains. However, it remains unclear whether RT frequency on its own has significant effects on strength gain. It seems that higher RT frequencies result in greater gains in muscular strength on multi-joint exercises in the upper body and in women, and, finally, in contrast to older adults, young individuals seem to respond more positively to greater RT frequencies. More evidence among resistance-trained individuals is needed as most of the current studies were performed in untrained participants.


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Jozo Grgic, Brad J. Schoenfeld, Timothy B. Davies, Bruno Lazinica, James W. Krieger and Zeljko Pedisic declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.


  1. 1.
    Carroll TJ, Riek S, Carson RG. Neural adaptations to resistance training: implications for movement control. Sports Med. 2001;31(12):829–40.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Steib S, Schoene D, Pfeifer K. Dose-response relationship of resistance training in older adults: a meta-analysis. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010;42(5):902–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Suchomel TJ, Nimphius S, Stone MH. The importance of muscular strength in athletic performance. Sports Med. 2016;46(10):1419–49.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    American College of Sports Medicine. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009;41(3):687–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Baechle TR, Earle RW, Wathen D. Resistance training. In: Earle RW, Baechle TR, editors. Essentials of strength training and conditioning. 3rd ed. Champaign: Human Kinetics; 2008. p. 381–412.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ralston GW, Kilgore L, Wyatt FB, et al. The effect of weekly set volume on strength gain: a meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2017;47(12):2585–601.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Carpinelli RN, Otto RM. Strength training. Single versus multiple sets. Sports Med. 1998;26(2):73–84.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Schoenfeld BJ, Grgic J, Ogborn D, et al. Strength and hypertrophy adaptations between low- versus high-load resistance training: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(12):3508–23.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Schoenfeld BJ, Wilson JM, Lowery RP, et al. Muscular adaptations in low- versus high-load resistance training: a meta-analysis. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016;16(1):1–10.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Candow DG, Burke DG. Effect of short-term equal-volume resistance training with different workout frequency on muscle mass and strength in untrained men and women. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(1):204–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    McLester JR, Bishop P, Guilliams ME. Comparison of 1 day and 3 days per week of equal-volume resistance training in experienced subjects. J Strength Cond Res. 2000;14(3):273–81.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Schoenfeld BJ, Ratamess NA, Peterson MD, et al. Influence of resistance training frequency on muscular adaptations in well-trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(7):1821–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Thomas MH, Burns SP. Increasing lean mass and strength: a comparison of high frequency strength training to lower frequency strength training. Int J Exerc Sci. 2016;9(2):159–67.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Benton MJ, Kasper MJ, Raab SA, et al. Short-term effects of resistance training frequency on body composition and strength in middle-aged women. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(11):3142–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Fernández-Lezaun E, Schumann M, Mäkinen T, et al. Effects of resistance training frequency on cardiorespiratory fitness in older men and women during intervention and follow-up. Exp Gerontol. 2017;95:44–53.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Gentil P, Fischer B, Martorelli AS, et al. Effects of equal-volume resistance training performed one or two times a week in upper body muscle size and strength of untrained young men. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015;55(3):144–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lera Orsatti F, Nahas EA, Maestá N, et al. Effects of resistance training frequency on body composition and metabolics and inflammatory markers in overweight postmenopausal women. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2014;54(3):317–25.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Murlasits Z, Reed J, Wells K. Effect of resistance training frequency on physiological adaptations in older adults. J Exerc Sci Fit. 2012;10(1):28–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Padilha CS, Ribeiro AS, Fleck SJ, et al. Effect of resistance training with different frequencies and detraining on muscular strength and oxidative stress biomarkers in older women. Age. 2015;37(5):104.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Silva RG, Silva DRP, Pina FLC. Effect of two different weekly resistance training frequencies on muscle strength and blood pressure in normotensive older women. Rev Bras Cineantropom Hum. 2017;19(1):118–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, et al. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. Ann Intern Med. 2009;151(4):264–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fleck SJ, Kraemer WJ. Designing resistance training programs. In: Fleck SJ, Kraemer WJ, editors. Physiological adaptations to resistance training. 4th ed. Champaign: Human Kinetics; 2014. p. 52.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Downs SH, Black N. The feasibility of creating a checklist for the assessment of the methodological quality both of randomised and non-randomised studies of health care interventions. J Epidemiol Commun Health. 1998;52(6):377–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Davies TB, Kuang K, Orr R, et al. Effect of movement velocity during resistance training on dynamic muscular strength: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2017;47(8):1603–17.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Grgic J, Schoenfeld BJ, Skrepnik M, et al. Effects of rest interval duration in resistance training on measures of muscular strength: a systematic review. Sports Med. 2018;48(1):137–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Tipton E. Small sample adjustments for robust variance estimation with meta-regression. Psychol Methods. 2015;20(3):375–93.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Morris B. Estimating effect sizes from pretest-posttest-control group designs. Organ Res Methods. 2008;11(2):364–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Borenstein M, Hedges LV, Higgins JPT. Effect sizes based on means. In: Borenstein M, Hedges LV, Higgins JPT, Rothstein HR, editors. Introduction to meta-analysis. New York: Wiley; 2009. p. 21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hedges LV, Tipton E, Johnson MC. Robust variance estimation in meta-regression with dependent effect size estimates. Res Synth Methods. 2010;1(1):39–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Thompson SG, Sharp SJ. Explaining heterogeneity in meta-analysis: a comparison of methods. Stat Med. 1999;18(20):2693–708.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Gentil P, Del Vecchio FB, Paoli A, et al. Isokinetic dynamometry and 1RM tests produce conflicting results for assessing alterations in muscle strength. J Hum Kinet. 2017;56:19–27.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Ferrari R, Kruel LF, Cadore EL, et al. Efficiency of twice weekly concurrent training in trained elderly men. Exp Gerontol. 2013;48(11):1236–42.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Fisher G, McCarthy JP, Zuckerman PA, et al. Frequency of combined resistance and aerobic training in older women. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(7):1868–76.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Arazi H, Asadi A. Effects of 8 weeks equal-volume resistance training with different workout frequency on maximal strength, endurance and body composition. Int J Sports Sci Eng. 2011;5(2):11–8.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Hunter GR. Changes in body composition, body build and performance associated with different weight training frequencies in males and females. Natl Strength Cond Assoc J. 1985;7(1):26–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Brazell-Roberts JV, Thomas LE. Effects of weight training frequency on the self-concept of college females. J Appl Sports Sci Res. 1989;3(2):40–3.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Carroll TJ, Abernethy PJ, Logan PA, et al. Resistance training frequency: strength and myosin heavy chain responses to two and three bouts per week. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1998;78(3):270–5.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    DiFrancisco-Donoghue J, Werner W, Douris PC. Comparison of once-weekly and twice-weekly strength training in older adults. Br J Sports Med. 2007;41(1):19–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Faigenbaum AD, Milliken LA, Loud RL, et al. Comparison of 1 and 2 days per week of strength training in children. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2002;73(4):416–24.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Gregory LW. Some observations on strength training and assessment. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 1981;21(2):130–7.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    McKenzie Gillam G. Effects of frequency of weight training on muscle strength enhancement. J Sports Med Phys Fit. 1981;21(4):432–6.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Taaffe DR, Duret C, Wheeler S, et al. Once-weekly resistance exercise improves muscle strength and neuromuscular performance in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999;47(10):1208–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Ribeiro AS, Schoenfeld BJ, Silva DR, et al. Effect of two- versus three-way split resistance training routines on body composition and muscular strength in bodybuilders: a pilot study. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015;25(6):559–65.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Ploutz-Snyder LL, Giamis EL. Orientation and familiarization to 1RM strength testing in old and young women. J Strength Cond Res. 2001;15(4):519–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Mattocks KT, Buckner SL, Jessee MB, et al. Practicing the test produces strength equivalent to higher volume training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017;49(9):1945–54.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Dankel SJ, Buckner SL, Jessee MB, et al. Correlations do not show cause and effect: not even for changes in muscle size and strength. Sports Med. 2018;48(1):1–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Dankel SJ, Counts BR, Barnett BE, et al. Muscle adaptations following 21 consecutive days of strength test familiarization compared with traditional training. Muscle Nerve. 2017;56(2):307–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ferreira DV, Ferreira-Júnior JB, Soares SR, et al. Chest press exercises with different stability requirements result in similar muscle damage recovery in resistance-trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2017;31(1):71–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Soares S, Ferreira-Junior JB, Pereira MC, et al. Dissociated time course of muscle damage recovery between single- and multi-joint exercises in highly resistance-trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(9):2594–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Wernbom M, Augustsson J, Thomeé R. The influence of frequency, intensity, volume and mode of strength training on whole muscle cross-sectional area in humans. Sports Med. 2007;37(3):225–64.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Housh DJ, Housh TJ, Johnson GO, et al. Hypertrophic response to unilateral concentric isokinetic resistance training. J Appl Physiol. 1992;73(1):65–70.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Gentil P, Ferreira-Junior JB, Bemben MG, et al. The effects of resistance training on lower and upper body strength gains in young women. Int J Kinesiol Sports Sci. 2015;3(3):18–23.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Gentil P. Comment on: “Determining strength: a case for multiple methods of measurement”. Sports Med. 2017;47(9):1901–2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Davies T, Orr R, Halaki M, et al. Effect of training leading to repetition failure on muscular strength: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2016;46(4):487–502.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Morán-Navarro R, Pérez CE, Mora-Rodríguez R, et al. Time course of recovery following resistance training leading or not to failure. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2017;117(12):2387–99.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Ferreira DV, Gentil P, Soares SRS, et al. Recovery of pectoralis major and triceps brachii after bench press exercise. Muscle Nerve. 2017;56(5):963–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Hunter GR, McCarthy JP, Bamman MM. Effects of resistance training on older adults. Sports Med. 2004;34(5):329–48.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Borde R, Hortobágyi T, Granacher U. Dose–response relationships of resistance training in healthy old adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2015;45(12):1693–720.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Loustalot F, Carlson SA, Kruger J, et al. Muscle-strengthening activities and participation among adults in the United States. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2013;84(1):30–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Barbalho MSM, Gentil P, Izquierdo M, et al. There are no no-responders to low or high resistance training volumes among older women. Exp Gerontol. 2017;99:18–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Izquierdo M, Ibañez J, Hakkinen K, et al. Once weekly combined resistance and cardiovascular training in healthy older men. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004;36(3):435–43.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Roth SM, Martel GF, Ivey FM, et al. High-volume, heavy-resistance strength training and muscle damage in young and older women. J Appl Physiol. 2000;88(3):1112–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Flores DF, Gentil P, Brown LE, et al. Dissociated time course of recovery between genders after resistance exercise. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(11):3039–44.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Raastad T, Kirketeig A, Wolf D, et al. 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. In: 17th Annual conference of the European College of Sport Science, Brugge.Google Scholar
  65. 65.
    Mazzetti SA, Kraemer WJ, Volek JS, et al. The influence of direct supervision of resistance training on strength performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000;32(6):1175–84.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Gentil P, Bottaro M. Influence of supervision ratio on muscle adaptations to resistance training in nontrained subjects. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(3):639–43.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Lacroix A, Hortobágyi T, Beurskens R, et al. Effects of supervised vs. unsupervised training programs on balance and muscle strength in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2017;47(11):2341–61.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Dankel SJ, Mattocks KT, Jessee MB, et al. Frequency: the overlooked resistance training variable for inducing muscle hypertrophy? Sports Med. 2017;47(5):799–805.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Hubal MJ, Gordish-Dressman H, Thompson PD, et al. Variability in muscle size and strength gain after unilateral resistance training. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37(6):964–72.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Higgins JP. Commentary: Heterogeneity in meta-analysis should be expected and appropriately quantified. Int J Epidemiol. 2008;37(5):1158–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jozo Grgic
    • 1
  • Brad J. Schoenfeld
    • 2
  • Timothy B. Davies
    • 3
  • Bruno Lazinica
    • 4
  • James W. Krieger
    • 5
  • Zeljko Pedisic
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)Victoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Health SciencesLehman CollegeBronxUSA
  3. 3.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Kinesiology, Faculty of EducationJ.J. Strossmayer UniversityOsijekCroatia
  5. 5.WeightologyLLCRedmondUSA

Personalised recommendations