I was like most young and impressionable lifters when I first met the barbell. I wanted to be jacked, yoked, hulk-like, and any other synonym associated with being big and awesome. I began bodybuilding; however, after putting on some size, I realized that I only cared about challenging my strength. Switching to powerlifting opened my eyes to things like volume, intensity, and frequency. Instead of hitting muscle groups once, twice, or three times per week (for my weaker areas), I restricted my training to two upper and lower sessions per week. I learned to wave volume and intensity, but I never strayed from my two days for each lift format for fear of overtraining. Yet, when I decided to switch over to Olympic weightlifting, my preconceived training notions once again flew out the window. I soon realized that I could increase my training frequency and make incredible gains. Coaches like Ivan Abadjiev, Glenn Pendlay, and others have used multiple maxes per week to push the strength of their athletes.

Increasing your training frequency is a simple concept. If you squat one day per week, you will squat 52 times a year. If you squat twice a week, you will squat 104 times per year. Squat three days per week? You will squat a total of 156 times per year...I think you've probably picked up the pattern by now. Adding in one more session a week means accumulating 52 more sessions each year. I work with a lot of athletes, and their coaches all say the same thing. The key to success is practice—the more you practice, the more you refine your skill set and the better player you will be. The same is true in strength sports.

Strength is just as much a skill as it is a physical quality. This skill can and should be practiced regularly to maximize performance. But how much is too much? Here’s a quick case study for you. My training called for a large volume of squatting—four days per week for six weeks, with the last week being a deload week. All of these squats were Olympic-style back squats, and in another session during the week I was doing a front squat to a jerk for a 1-rep max (1RM).  I never came close to my front squat max, and I never maxed my back squat. Now, I’m three weeks into the next phase, and I work up to a 1RM front squat Monday through Friday. What's more, my front squat 1RM is up 22kg (44.4 pounds). That's almost 50 pounds in nine weeks! I think it’s safe to say that I've not only become a stronger squatter, but I've also become more efficient as well.

To be fair and honest though, I can’t front squat this new max every day. However, my regular daily max is still well above my old 1RM, so my strength base has definitely increased. Still, this is not an overnight process, and it does not come without the necessary preparation. If you go to the squat rack next week and squat five days in a row to a 1RM, I can guarantee that it won’t go well and you will risk hurting yourself.  This is NOT something to jump into right away. However, I called this article a "down and dirty guide" for a reason. So now that I have your attention, it’s time to get you ready to lift heavier more often than you ever thought possible.

Step 1: You must free your mind

Seriously, if you’re going to push the limits, you need to first understand that it is possible to do so. Going into this with a negative attitude will crush you even more so than the weights. It will be daunting. It will be intimidating. But you can do it.

Step 2: Move into a volume phase for four to six weeks

You need to build your strength base and conditioning, and I highly recommend performing 20 to 30 total reps per session at your work weight. You could build it up linearly over four to six weeks, or wave it up and down throughout the week. The following table will provide an example of a six-week volume cycle:

After completing a program like this, you may begin to slowly build up the number of heavy sessions you perform each week. This next table gives an example of how to start incorporating multiple max sessions per week.

Step 3: Recovery, Recovery, Recovery.

You need to understand that training takes a toll on your body, even if it’s easy training. If it’s hard, like the style of training I’m writing about, your recovery efforts must exceed your training efforts. Foam rolling, mobility work, Epsom salt baths, contrast showers—all of these may be employed. If you’re lucky enough to have access to a good manual therapist, a visit once every week or two helps tremendously. Yet, even more important is making sure you consume enough calories and get enough sleep.  And as much as you don’t want to hear it, get a heart rate monitor, strap it on, and walk around (outside if possible), keeping your heart rate between 120 to 130bpm for 30 to 60 minutes. This will aid in increasing the stroke volume of your left ventricle, which is a fancy way of saying that you’ll be able to deliver more oxygen/nutrients with each heart beat. This, of course, will aid in recovery between sets and between sessions.

Step 4: Accessorize.

I know that you have one—a  gym bag filled with all of your cool lifting accessories. I have one, and it has my weightlifting shoes, knee sleeves, wrist wraps, straps, various liniments, chalk, athletic tape, foam roller, lacrosse ball, a belt, emergency caffeine stash (I prefer sugar-free Monster), etc. Not only will you look cooler, but you will also help eliminate excuses. My wrist hurts, my back hurts, I’m tired...These things will happen. But you will push on. Now, understand that I’m not advocating that you should push yourself to injury. If you injure yourself, you went too far. But you will be sore, you will be tired, and you will feel like crawling under a rock. But you will survive. If you’re like me and you played sports, then putting on your uniform is like a soldier prepping for war. When I put on my knee sleeves and my weightlifting shoes, I’m arming myself for battle. It puts me in a different mindset. Attack the session, or it will attack you. This, in turn, goes back to step one: free your mind.

Increasing frequency is a simple way to work toward perfecting a complicated skill. If you approach it in a smart way, not only can you increase the number of times you can train, but you can also increase your total as well. Following these tips will not only help you get there safely and efficiently, but it will hopefully also open your mind to the possibilities. The human body is capable of way more than most of us realize, and if planned and done properly, you can push yourself way further then you ever thought possible. Once you've prepped yourself, you’re ready. Understand that you will not hit a new 1RM every workout, and maybe not even every week. You will, however, routinely work with more weight than you ever have before. Now, why wouldn't you want that?