The Power of Frequency in Fitness

It is well known that in order to achieve success you have to be consistent.  Being consistent will put you on a path to personal growth and hitting your goals.  In today’s post I would like to discuss the importance of not just consistency but how frequency plays a critical part.

Adding frequency to an already consistent practice  will enable you to break through barriers and elevate yourself to new levels of achievement.  When combined, these two behaviors (consistency and frequency), above skill and natural ability, become a powerful tool.  Heightened frequency can be inserted into your fitness routine for specific defined periods of time in order to achieve elevated levels of fitness.   Each behavior alone may get you to a certain level of fitness or help maintain what you currently have, but it isn’t until you put both consistency and frequency together that your real potential shines through.

Building That Fitness

You can achieve a certain level of success doing an activity consistently but at a low rate of frequency.  Running twice a week would fall into that category.  However, this will only get you so far.  You will undoubtedly plateau, which may lead to you becoming frustrated, disinterested, and lose focus on what it is you are working towards.  Depending upon your chosen fitness activity, frequency can be the difference between you hitting your fitness goals or coming up short.

I witnessed this first hand with my daughter going to swim class once a week.  In the winter months, her only time in the pool was a relatively short 30 minute class.  She gradually progressed through each skill level until she made it to the swim team.  Nearly exactly as I described above happened to her.  She became frustrated, disinterested, and the motivation to continue was gone.  In order for her to continue her growth in swimming she was going to need swim frequency on top of the consistency.  Only going once a week wasn’t going to build the required endurance and skill for that sport.

Depending upon your chosen fitness activity, the number of weekly sessions can be the key to hitting your fitness goals.

Swim Frequency: A Look Back On A Focused Period

If you swim once a week you will certainly improve compared to someone who doesn’t swim at all.  But if you want to progress to a new level of ability you will have to add frequency.  Every year, I take an extended break from swimming in the winter months.  At some point in the Spring I find my swim goggles and go for my first swim.  From years of doing this, I know that it is going to take roughly 6 sessions of swimming before I feel comfortable again in the water.  My form returns, my strength and endurance kick back in, and only then can I really begin to train.  I know that the faster I get through those 6 sessions the better off I will be.  At this point, frequency is the key at achieving growth.

During the warmer months I typically swim 3 days a week in preparation for a Triathlon.  This is on top of an already busy schedule of running and biking.  If I swim twice a week, I’m only maintaining my ability and will not improve.  That 3rd swim is very important.  The 3rd swim is the difference between improving or staying plateaued.

If swimming 3 times a week makes you improve, you should try 5 days a week!  Last summer I had an injury that only allowed me to swim.  I wasn’t able to bike or run for 5 weeks.  To stay active, I swam 5 days a week for 5 weeks. My improvement was huge.  I got faster, stronger, my form improved, and became mentally tougher as a swimmer.  This short period of frequency raised the bar for me as a swimmer.

Each Extra Session Within Every Week Matters

You will find that with each session you add to your week there is a very distinct difference in how your body will respond. Whatever your fitness activity is, doing it 2, 3, 4, or 5 times a week should all feel slightly different with the results typically increasing with the level of frequency. There is often a level of frequency needed to ‘maintain’ a certain level of fitness and a level of frequency needed to ‘grow’ your fitness.  Ultimately finding the right balance between frequency, intensity, and duration is what most athletes are seeking to achieve.

Great Times to Use Frequency

  1. When you need to speed up your progression.  If you aren’t very good at something adding frequency is the key.
  2. Bust through that plateau i.e. you are no longer getting better. Set a block of time and ramp up that frequency.  Set a high goal and see what you can do.
  3. Mental toughness. Added frequency will challenge you in a new way and create growth.  For me, after swimming 5 days a week, swimming 3 times a week seemed like no big deal.

What are your ideas on using frequency?  Fitness or unfitness related…