Many people see elite athletes training with a lot of frequency. Nine, ten, eleven times per week sometimes. I want to address some of my thoughts on training frequency, and some of the important considerations when a coach or athlete is deciding how much frequency is enough. This will apply to most sports but many of the examples I’ll use will come from throwing or weightlifting.
First, it should be pretty obvious that you don’t have to train 11 times per week to become a solid athlete. If you want to succeed at the high school or collegiate levels, you don’t necessarily need to be having two or three sessions every day. If you have a good plan and stick to it, that should be enough. However, if you want to become the best--and I mean medaling at worlds--you almost have to train multiple times per day. You do need to be wary of starting someone on a high frequency program too early. I’ve tried extremely high frequency programs with Hayley Reichardt in the past, only for them to absolutely crush her. We needed to take some time for her to develop as an athlete, but I think she’s approaching that period of her athletic career where we need to seriously look at training multiple times a day.
Especially for technical sports like weightlifting and throwing, I think it’s very important to maximize your sessions. Technical athletes need the time to hone their skills, and more time in the ring or with the bar will help them do that. I find that some more aggressive lifters who are not as technically proficient will need more sessions than someone who is very technically minded. This is because the technically minded lifter will just be more efficient with their time, making sure each rep is perfect, instead of every third or fourth rep in the case of the meathead lifter. Essentially, very technical athletes just need less volume in order to get the same technical improvement. Over time, if handled correctly, an athlete will not only accrue the volume that will allow their body to handle training twice per day, but also will make them understand their technique to the point that they waste fewer reps each session.
What if you can’t train twice per day, and you still want to be elite? Well, I think one way to look at it is to think about just maximizing the amount of time each day that you are putting toward your goals. If you wake up 5 minutes earlier in the morning, can you use that time to visualize or meditate? If you have a 10 minute break at work, can you get some mobility work in? Are you taking the time to stretch and mobilize at night? All of these things could add up to be considered another training session. If you’re actively putting in work toward your end goal, you’re training! If you can’t bang weights all of the time, find other ways to improve yourself.
Again, I don’t think you have to train with a ton of frequency if you want to be good, or even start to crack your way into the elite ranks. But to truly stand out among the best of the best, I truly believe you have to commit to increasing your number of training sessions.