Training Frequency and Testosterone: What Works Best?

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


Do training frequency and testosterone have a relationship? There is a maximum number of gym visits for peak growth. What is the optimal number of times to hit the gym for peak muscle growth? Read on to find out.


Your training history and your recovery strategy will determine the optimal frequency of training. 

Beginners should train 3-4 times per weeks, while more advanced gym goers may choose to do so 4-5 times, although this may prevent further growth for older individuals. Your recovery can influence how much you train. 

This article examines the relationship between testosterone and training frequency. 

What is Training Frequency? Why is it Important?

The number of gym sessions per week is the training frequency. A high frequency of training would mean training seven days a week, whereas training only once a week is considered low. 

You should also consider how long you spend training and the intensity of each session. 

Finding the perfect balance between undertraining and overtraining is important for gym goers. 

You will not achieve your goals if you do not train enough. This could also lead to you reversing any progress you've made. Overtraining can cause sleep problems, increased stress and lower testosterone levels. 

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Progressive overload requires regular training

If you don't exercise enough, your results may be slow (or non-existent). However, overtraining and burnout can result from too much training. 

When it comes to metabolising fat and building muscles, frequency is key. But training at the right frequency is also vital. 

When planning a training plan, it's vital to balance your need for recovery with the requirement of exercise. 

Fitness and Fatigue: Frequency

Stress adaptation is the basis of fitness-fatigue [1]. When you go to the gym, you are presenting your body with a stressor that it must adapt to. 

Imagine you are lifting weights. By lifting heavier weights than normal and damaging muscle fibers, you provide the stimulus. This adaptation results in an increased muscle cell donation as well as an increase of muscle mass. 

For example, if the stimulus was sprinting in high intensity interval training, then the adaptation would be an increase of blood volume, lung functions, and oxygen kinetics. For every stimulus there is a particular adaptation. 

How are fitness and fatigue models related to frequency? 

You can build fitness by training hard more often. When you train frequently, fatigue can mask your fitness gains and cause your performance to decline. 

If you do not train enough, then your fitness level will never improve. Balance is key. Training frequency is the key. 

The key point: Training frequently enough is not about building fitness but also not accumulating unnecessary fatigue. 

Is more training better?

There have been two different schools of thought when it comes to the frequency with which you should train in order to build muscle. 

The first suggests that training muscles multiple times per week will maximize growth. One says that training a single muscle each week will limit fatigue, and allow for more effective training. 

Clinical research is essential to fully understand the link between testosterone and training frequency. 


The most important studies that you should know about:

Strength and muscle gain are best achieved by training more frequently.

Recent research from Frontiers in Physiology [2] examined the possible link between the frequency of training and its effects on the leg strength of a group athletes and their muscle damage. 

Over an 11-week span, the volunteers divided into two groups followed a workout plan designed by a professional trainer using approximately 70% of their 1-RM. 

  • High Frequency - 6x12 reps
  • Low Frequency - 2x12 reps

High frequency training improves muscle strength and mass, while also improving muscle fiber thickness.

Results showed that while both groups increased muscle mass, strength and muscle fibre thickness as well, results from the high-frequency group were significantly greater.

 The high-frequency group also showed a higher level of strength than the low group.

This meta-analysis shows that training more often leads to greater muscle gain

Brad Schoenfeld, James Krieger and their team analyzed 22 studies in a meta-analysis. Researchers included all studies that compare muscular strength results with different training frequency. 

Results were very interesting.

Higher training frequency translated to better gains in muscle mass.

You'd be right to assume that training more often leads to better gains in muscle mass. Scientists measured the effect sizes between groups as follows. 

  • A weekly workout of one hour is 0.74
  • The two workouts are 0.82
  • Three exercises - 0.93
  • Four sessions per week = 1.08

Four training sessions led to a significant increase in muscle mass, upper body 1RM (but not lower body strength). 

Researchers also discovered that volume had a greater impact on younger people than older adults, and women were slightly better off than men. This is probably due to the fact that women are more naturally able to handle more training.

The key point: Frequent training leads to an increase in mass of muscle, likely due to increased volume. 

Testosterone and Training Frequency - A Link

The Leydig cells in your testes produce Testosterone, a natural hormone. The steroid has anabolic as well as androgenic qualities and offers a variety of benefits. 

  • Increases muscle mass and strength
  • Fat loss is fought by a diet that keeps you slim.
  • Increased energy, endurance, and stamina
  • Regulations of sex drive and libido
  • You are protected from cardiovascular, metabolic and neurodegenerative diseases

What is the relation between testosterone and training frequency?

Strength training increases testosterone. Strength training boosts testosterone production along with growth factors like growth hormone and IGF-1. 

When testosterone is triggered it rushes straight to the androgen receptors in your body to start muscle growth. 

Strength training is a great way to increase testosterone.

Frequency of training

All three are interrelated: muscle mass gain, frequency of training, and testosterone. The number of exercises you require to increase testosterone is unique to each individual. 

The majority of guys agree that 3 to 5 workouts per weeks (plus a week off every 4 or 6 weeks) is the best. This frequency allows for muscle growth without causing fatigue or burnout. 

If this sounds like too much for you, start with 3 strength training sessions per week, and then build up from there. 

Workouts for the whole body

The research shows that, while leg extensions and arm curls are useful in building muscle, the compound exercises have a greater impact on testosterone levels. 

  • Pulls and presses
  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Weighted carries

Bill Kraemer, a strength-training legend [4], found in a study that compound exercises that involve multiple muscle groups are best for increasing testosterone. This has also been confirmed by research [5]. 

Increase your testosterone levels by lifting heavy.

Compound lifts are great because you can easily add heavy loads and get down to business. 

Lifting heavy weights (70-80% of 1RM) is best for testosterone and strength. A study in the Journal of Gerontology, for example, found that heavy lifting over a six-month period produced the following results: 

  • Increased muscle mass and strength
  • Maximum voluntary activation
  • Increased growth hormone levels
  • Increased total and Free Testosterone

Conclusion - Does training more frequently affect testosterone levels?

The frequency of training is the number of times you go to the gym per week. 

Testosterone is the hormone responsible for providing men with muscle mass, body hair and voice changes as they navigate puberty.

Furthermore, testosterone regulates important functions like sex drive, bone density, fat distribution and red blood cell production - which explains why low levels are linked with fatigue, loss of muscle mass and erectile dysfunction symptoms.

Regular exercise has been proven to boost testosterone levels.

But not all forms of physical activity have the same impact: endurance training and weightlifting (resistance workouts) both have short-term effects, but weightlifting tends to have a larger effect and works even more effectively when performed with shorter rest periods and heavier loads.

Numerous studies have shown that higher levels of training and increased testosterone are closely related.

Brown-Rowan states that lifting weights three times per week increased muscle strength by 20-40% within weeks if done properly and focused on form and technique: "Make sure that your movements are completed safely to avoid getting injured and having to stop your workout!"

If you are unfamiliar with weightlifting or how to begin, consult with a personal trainer who can guide your efforts and avoid injury and burnout, according to Williamson.

Alternatively, look for gyms or community centers offering affordable programs led by certified instructors; they will teach proper form while teaching how to safely utilize equipment effectively.

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  1. Chiu, L et al. The Fitness-Fatigue Model Revisited: Implications for Planning Short- and Long-Term Training. Strength Cond J. 2003; 25(6)
  2. Ochi, E et al. Higher Training Frequency Is Important for Gaining Muscular Strength Under Volume-Matched Training. Frontiers Phys. 2018
  3. Grgic, J et al. Effect of Resistance Training Frequency on Gains in Muscular Strength: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2018; 48(5): 1207-1220
  4. Kraemer, WJ et al. Acute hormonal responses in elite junior weightlifters. Int J Sports Med. 1992; 13(2): 103-9
  5. Hansen, S et al. The effect of short-term strength training on human skeletal muscle: the importance of physiologically elevated hormone levels. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2001; 11(6): 347-54
  6. Häkkinen, K et al. Basal concentrations and acute responses of serum hormones and strength development during heavy resistance training in middle-aged and elderly men and women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000; 55(2): B95-105
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