Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Sports Medicine




School of Medical and Health Sciences




Football Association


Cuthbert, M., Haff, G. G., Arent, S. M., Ripley, N., McMahon, J. J., Evans, M., & Comfort, P. (2021). Effects of variations in resistance training frequency on strength development in well-trained populations and implications for in-season athlete training: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 51(9), 1967-1982.


Background: In-season competition and tournaments for team sports can be both long and congested, with some sports competing up to three times per week. During these periods of time, athletes need to prepare technically, tactically and physically for the next fixture and the short duration between fixtures means that, in some cases, physical preparation ceases, or training focus moves to recovery as opposed to progressing adaptations. Objective: The aim of this review was to investigate the effect of training frequency on muscular strength to determine if a potential method to accommodate in-season resistance training, during busy training schedules, could be achieved by utilizing shorter more frequent training sessions across a training week. Methods: A literature search was conducted using the SPORTDiscus, Ovid, PubMed and Scopus databases. 2134 studies were identified prior to application of the following inclusion criteria: (1) maximal strength was assessed, (2) a minimum of two different training frequency groups were included, (3) participants were well trained, and finally (4) compound exercises were included within the training programmes. A Cochrane risk of bias assessment was applied to studies that performed randomized controlled trials and consistency of studies was analysed using I as a test of heterogeneity. Secondary analysis of studies included Hedges’ g effect sizes (g) and between-study differences were estimated using a random-effects model. Results: Inconsistency of effects between pre- and post-intervention was low within-group (I = 0%), and moderate between-group (I ≤ 73.95%). Risk of bias was also low based upon the Cochrane risk of bias assessment. Significant increases were observed overall for both upper (p ≤ 0.022) and lower (p ≤ 0.008) body strength, pre- to post-intervention, when all frequencies were assessed. A small effect was observed between training frequencies for upper (g ≤ 0.58) and lower body (g ≤ 0.45). Conclusion: Over a 6–12-week period, there are no clear differences in maximal strength development between training frequencies, in well-trained populations. Such observations may permit the potential for training to be manipulated around competition schedules and volume to be distributed across shorter, but more frequent training sessions within a micro-cycle rather than being condensed into 1–2 sessions per week, in effect, allowing for a micro-dosing of the strength stimuli. 2 2 2



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.