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Why I Train Only Three Days A Week – A Training Split For Natural Athletes

Why I Train Only Three Days A Week – A Training Split For Natural Athletes


How is it possible for me to have achieved what I’ve achieved as a natural bodybuilder training just three days a week? And most people will tend to say things somewhere along the lines that I’m training three days a week because I’m trying to maintain what I’ve already built and that the foundation of muscle and strength that I was able to achieve over the years is something I did from training more days a week and that’s absolutely false. I’ve been training three days a week now for the past 31 years. And given the fact that I’ve trained hundreds of people from those who are just trying to put some muscle mass on, those who are trying to get stronger, those are trying to lose weight, to professional natural bodybuilders, both male and female and three days a week. No more, not four, not five.

I think it’s important that we take a look at training frequency a little bit differently. In this video I’m going to talk about how I train three days a week and how it might probably be something that you might want to consider as well. Stay tuned and we’ll talk a little more about this.

So in this video, I’m talking about how it is that I train three days a week and why I think that more people should probably be considering training less. So before I go any further, I’d like to take the time to acknowledge all the kind comments I’ve got and the tremendous support we’ve been getting so far for this channel, especially those who say that this should be an important resource for anybody interested in natural training. Thanks so much for sharing. Thanks for your support, and do be sure to like, subscribe and also ring that bell, so you’re first in line with the new content comes out.

So, on to our topic at hand: training three days a week. So before we go any further, it’s important to understand that in science, real science, not bro science, not conjecture, in order for you to have a scientific approach, to any methodology of doing anything, there has to be, what’s called a minimum dose.

The Importance Of Establishing Training Frequency Minimum Dose for Natural Athletes


A minimum dose is when someone is creating an intervention, any form, or any type to try to figure out what’s the least amount is required to achieve a certain effect.

Now, when it comes to bodybuilding, there really are two schools of thought. There’s the high intensity training camp that I’m part of. And then there’s the high volume camp.

Best Training Split Protocols And Training Frequency Have Historically Been Established By Athletes On Steroids

Now, way back in the day, these decisions were pretty much decided not by people going into the gym and training and getting information based on their training, but by the top bodybuilders of the day
Arnold Schwarzenegger bless his soul was extremely important for popularizing bodybuilding, but he also popularized the idea that you need to train for long periods of time and train almost every single day to get maximum gains. Sounds great. And everyone knows how popular Arnold is and how fantastic his physique was.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and non natural bodybuilders set the principles of high volume training

Except we don’t know what he was using when he was Mr. Olympia or when he was competing as a bodybuilder. And there has never been a natural athlete that’s been out there talking about what’s optimal. In fact, when most natural athletes talk about their training, what I see is them pretty much parroting what the drug using bodybuilders do.

So among drug users, training more makes sense. If you are using anabolic steroids, you are going to recover much faster than the average human being ever could. In fact, when we think about athletes using steroids, most of us have the idea of them using stories to get bigger and stronger. And we kind of expect athletes who use steroids to kind of look all bulky.

That’s not what steroids primarily do. The primary focus of using steroids is for recovery. Now, if you’re training 6 days a week and using anabolic steroids, your body can recover from every single workout you can, much faster than someone who is not using anabolic steroids.

In fact, among the steroid handbooks, they talk about the importance of volume training.
It’s important to maximize, you know, the fact that you’re enhanced and maximize the fact that you have an ability to use more protein and to build more muscle in shorter periods of time, compared to the average human being.

But the problem is that, since almost all the athletes that we follow, all the personalities out there, use steroids, and I’m not judging anyone for what they do. What I am judging is the fact that people on steroids are the ones who tend to be setting the policies as to how everybody else should be training. And there’s nobody out there taking a scientific approach, to try to figure out what’s the minimum dose.
What’s the minimum was for a natural athlete. Now, as I was saying earlier, If we take into consideration the fact that so many people train four days a week, even more people train five days a week. And the “dedicated” and I put dedicated in quotes tend to train 6 days a week.

If you’re training that often and you’re seeing some results, but that’s the only way you train. You never do anything else. It is physiologically impossible for you to know whether training less will be beneficial for you.

Kevin’s Science Based Quest For The Best Training Split for Natural Bodybuilding

I started off training like everybody else, five days a week. In fact, I started training six days a week and the guys in the gym told me it was too much. I was very young [14]. They were like, “it’s too much, five days is all you can do.” Because it was very important that your muscles recover from the workouts because they said, bodybuilding is about breaking down your muscles while you’re training.

While you’re resting those muscles are built back to be bigger and stronger than they were because of the fact that they went through all that stress. And that recovery process happens not while you’re training but while you’re resting. So it’s important to rest. Now that made a lot of sense to me. And as I went on and got to a point where I wasn’t seeing results I wanted to see, and start seeing a real plateau.

So, I realized that number one, I was following the routines and training frequencies of those who are using steroids and I wasn’t using steroids. And number two, I remembered what they kept on telling me how important recovery was. Now, my initial idea was to drop down my training frequency to 4 days a week.

And I thought that if I increase my intensity and trained as hard as humanly possible and train 4 days a week, I would have even better results than five days a week and break through that plateau that I was going through. So, I decided that’s what I was going to do.

How High Intensity Training Dropped Kevin’s Training Frequency To 3 Days A Week

And here’s what happened. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t train four days a week.
When I was training at the intensity that I was training at my workouts became extremely short. They went down actually in the beginning to about 10 minutes per workout. I couldn’t do any more. I really, no matter how hard I tried, it was impossible. And as far as the idea of coming into the gym four days a week, that wasn’t gonna happen either.

Kevin’s 3 Day A Week Training Split For Muscle Growth

Now my initial training split.

Day one was legs. Day two was back in shoulders. Day three was chest, arms, and sometimes abdominals. Now, day one was legs. Legs is the hardest muscle group to work. And as such, I always wanted to get in straight out of the way, so no matter what happened during that week, I would never miss a leg day since leg training creates the most overall effect in terms of both muscle growth and fat loss.

So, leg day was always first. Day two was back and shoulders and then day three was chest and arms, and in my early days, abdominals. Although I did stop training abdominals in 1998. And interestingly enough, did almost all my competitions here in the United States after stopping training abs and have done pretty well without doing abs at all. But that’s a topic for another video. So, stay tuned for that.
The possibility of training the same muscle group twice in one week with the intensity that I add to my workouts was impossible and I could only train three days a week. And that’s what I did. Because I was also in the idea of trying to experiment to figure out what the minimum dose was.

My search for the minimum dose using trial and error.

I figured I would try this. I’d see how things would go for six months. And if I had good results, I’d consider keeping it. If I didn’t, I would change it. And what happened was I broke through that plateau. I was hovering somewhere around 165 pounds or so, and I wasn’t really moving. And I was able to get ready for my first bodybuilding competition at 175 pounds.

And there was a big difference in that 10 pounds in terms of my strength levels, my muscle density and I was starting to kind of get that sense that I could really be a bodybuilder. My body changed just to that point where I could really see something going on here. And I made sure in the spirit of trying to keep constants that my diet was exactly the same.

So my diet’s the same. My training got harder. My time in the gym got less and I got better results. And I kept on doing that for six months now at the end, of that six month period, it didn’t make sense to put that extra fourth day back in there because I was doing really well. So, the idea was don’t rock the boat if things are working really well.

And to make a long story short, not too long afterwards, I started up as a personal trainer and I started training my first client the same way I trained, because I was told that what the most important thing as a personal trainer is, is to understand that your training is a craft. And the only way you can master a craft is if you ensure that those who you train, train the same way you do. Mastery comes not just from what you do, but also from seeing what you’re doing in others. And you have to have a sound commitment to the efficiency and effectiveness of what you’re doing, and also be open to the idea of changing it if it’s not working.

And so my idea it was, with my initial clients, more or less an experiment. You see, I was training 10 to 15 minutes, three times a week and experiencing massive gains. I was doing really, really well.

Applying The Scientific Method to Figure Out What Is The Best Training Split

And in the spirit of science, my idea, wasn’t trying to prove that three days a week with a low time in the gym was something that works.

I wasn’t trying to do that. When I started personal training and started getting clients. My whole idea was trying to disprove it because that’s what science is. And that’s the problem we have today in terms of any fitness information. It’s all based on trying to prove that something works. I always never tried to do that.

In fact, to this day, I am not about doing that. What I set up to do over the next 10 years was to try to disprove it.

Now, the fact that I train clients for 10 minutes means that I have over the years trained a lot of people. A lot of different people from different places in different places with different needs. And what I was trying to do is to try to find who this form of training did not work for, because I didn’t know if it was some genetic or individual error of small numbers that allowed me to make the gains that I made.

My first client, and we’ll talk a little more about that in future videos did really, really well. She lost a lot of weight training, three days a week for 10 minutes. Fantastic. But I couldn’t use that as a gauge to say I had something that worked because two of us had really good gains.

She had lost weight on the program. I had built muscle on the program. So I needed more because if you only have a small number you can’t extrapolate. You need a large number.

A further look into the Law of Small Numbers


Continuing A further look into the Law of Small Numbers

If not, you fall into what’s called the era of small numbers. I mean, you never want to do that if you’re looking at things from a scientific perspective.

Kevin’s Progress As A Natural Bodybuilder Over 30 Years Training 3 Days A Week

And so for the next 10 years, I documented every single client I trained. I often documented, meticulously my own progress. I charted my own progress into being someone who was a budding kind of starting off natural bodybuilder to a successful top tier natural bodybuilder. And I kept on training the same way my diet did change as time went on because I had access to much more food.
But what was constant was the fact that my training times were always the same. I was constant with the fact that all my client training times were all the same.

Kevin Richardson at 47 years old after training only 3 days a week

That being said, given the fact that 31 years later, I’m still able to see increases in my strength. I’m still able to see increases in my physique, having trained just three times a week.
I think it’s important, my experience, plus the hundreds. I’m not saying dozens or hundred, we’re talking about hundreds and they all have the same results. There was never one person who followed dietary guidelines I gave them, who trained consistently three times a week, who didn’t have a significant increase in muscle mass and a significant decrease in body fat. (See my article Diet vs Training What Matters Most for Body Transformation)

Decreased Gains Among Natural Bodybuilders Training More Than 3 Days A Week on A High Intensity Training Protocol

And here’s the important part. I’ve had several clients, especially earlier in my career who didn’t believe in Kevin’s three times a week training programs. I’ve had clients who were coming in for bodybuilding competitions who would train with me three times a week and then go on and train more times.
They’d put in two extra days, some would even put in three extra days. The frequency of doing more always seemed to correlate with a certain diminishing in their overall physiques and their strength levels compared to those who only trained three days a week.

Decreased Fat Loss Among Those Training More Than 3 Times A Week While Following A High Intensity Training Protocol

I was thankful and always have been thankful to have people doing different things in a constant setting so I could really see what was working and what wasn’t.


Those trying to lose weight training three days a week. And those on their own training for three extra days or two extra days, five days a week, didn’t ever lose as much weight as the ones training three days a week.

But here’s the problem. The question then pops up. Well, why isn’t everyone training less? Because we’re afraid, we’re afraid to experiment. We’re afraid to try. We’re afraid to look at things that are new. (See my article as well How To Burn More Fat Lifting Weights- High Intensity Training Tips)

Observations On The Effects of Training Twice A Week & Once A Week Following High Intensity Training Programs

Now as far as training less, is it possible to get the same results training less? I have data on that as well. I’ve had clients who were only able to train twice a week because their very busy schedules. And what I noticed was there was some reduction in overall progress in terms of muscle building, strength building, and especially with weight loss for those training twice a week compared to those training three days a week, that’s pretty much set in stone.

Observed results from clients who could only train twice a week.

I also had clients who were only able to train with me once a week and compared to those training three days a week, there was a big difference. Someone training once a week, also experienced much less in terms of results both with muscle building, strength increases, and weight loss, depending on what they were looking for.

Observed results from clients who could only train once a week.

Training 3 Days A Week As The “Sweet Spot” With High Intensity Training For Drug Free Athletes

And my recommendation strongly is always will be three days a week, seems to be the sweet spot. I am one of the few people who have actually had the privilege of training this many individuals, men, women aged from 12 years old to as old as 93 years old.

And I have a huge vat of information in front of me that I’m looking at. And to be quite honest and very, very forthright. If at any point in time, I had seen someone training four days a week and making more progress in three days a week, I would have done it. And here’s why I would have done it with my clients.
I would myself. I’m a personal trainer. I make money when a client comes into the gym back in the days when I was an in person trainer. Now I’m a 100% online training. I make money every time I train a client. If I train a client four days a week or five days a week, I make more money than I do training them three days a week.

In fact, from a business perspective, I have had significant fallout with business partners over the years, going into deals where we would run a gym together, or they partner with me with my service and it always came down to that question of “Kevin, why don’t you train your clients four days a week? We’ll make more money. No one will know. Four days a week versus three days a week.” You know, who will know? I will know and my clients will know.

It is impossible to express to you how important the progress of my clients is to me and to every single person who comes to me for advice, I always grew up in an environment where bodybuilding and training wasn’t so much something about making money. It was a passing on a tradition and it was about caring for the person in front of you. And when you care for the person in front of you, you want to always make sure that they get the best of your services. And do unto others as you have done unto you. It’s always been a rule I’ve lived with, and that’s just what this is.

I would have made a lot more money in my career if I trained my clients 4 days a week, but my clients would not have had the success that they would have had over the years, had they trained 4 days a week, nor would I have.

Why You Should Consider Training 3 Days A Week

It’s not a gimmick. It really is something to consider. And I think it’s important that you don’t just listen to me, you try it out for yourself because again, science isn’t about, well, Kevin said to do this, that that’s what I’m going to do. Science is about, giving something a try, keep your diet exactly the same, change training days. The fact that someone’s training more than three days a week, doesn’t mean three days a week is invalidated.

In fact, it validates it. Now everyone does not train at the intensity that I train and the intensity I train my clients. That’s a fact. And if you don’t have someone around pushing you during your workouts, really pushing you, it’s not going to be the same. If your intensity is a lot lower, you can train longer.
You can train it for an hour. You can train five days a week, six days a week. And yes, will you see results if you do that? Absolutely! That’s the important point as well. The fact that I trained three days a week, doesn’t invalidate the fact that someone can get results training five days a week or six days a week.
It’s not about validating or invalidating. It’s about trying to take the experience I’ve had and share it with you.

Now, from there, you make your decisions as to if it’s something that you want to consider or not. In the fitness industry, they need to be more talking to you, the public, like intelligent human beings.
You have the ability to rationalize and think for yourself. And I want you to do that. Consider the fact of the success that I’ve had over the years, training three days a week. Consider the fact that my clients had success training three days a week. Consider also the variations that seem to occur with people who train longer with my particular methodology.

And if you think it’s something that works for you don’t be afraid to use it, even though people around you may be training differently. That’s the other thing, one of the hardest parts for me was having to always deal with the pressure of you’re not training enough. You’re not training enough.
I remember walking in fifth avenue training three days a week, walking in, walking out people who weren’t even bodybuilders telling me that I would never amount to anything if I kept on training just three days a week. And my answer to them was always, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. I’m going to get into contest shape three days a week, no extra, no cardio.

I’m going to do exactly what I’ve been doing for all these years and show you that it can actually work. And most people, when they saw it had no problem with it. They were like, yeah, it may not be something I want to do, but it’s something that seems to actually work. And we need to have a little more of that, a little more respect in the fitness community for the fact that there’s many ways to get up that mountain. And just because someone gets up that mountain in a way that’s different from the way you do it doesn’t mean you got to pull them down. So keep lifting everybody up. And most importantly, Excelsior, thanks for tuning in!

High Intensity Bodyweight Training: Ballistic Pushups & Dips!

This was a tough one!

Starts out with ballistic push ups (like clap pushups but without the clap as my wrist is still not 100%) nonstop for 20 reps, then all out on dips for 10 reps.

To say it was painful would be an understatement, but you just have to push through and keep on going.

Still training, hope you are too and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #chestday #chesttraining #naturalbodybuildingtips #pushups #dips #bodyweighttraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #calesthenics

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Kevin's Unconventional Biceps Training- 3-6 Minutes a Week!

In this video I go over my biceps training using the Naturally Intense High Intensity Training protocols that helped me go from having arms measuring 11.5 to 12 inches to 18 inches drug free!

It's an unconventional approach for certain, but it's one that's helped my arms grow and the hundreds of men and women I have trained over the past 30 plus years.

Now, my success isn't due to being genetically gifted, as it took me the better part of 11 years to get my arms up to those measurements.

Which is significant as it works and been been proven time and time again to work for the average man or woman trying to grow their arms without drugs.

It's my hope that these high intensity training protocols can help you as much as they helped me!

Click on my bio link to see the full video on my YouTube channel and thanks as always for taking the time to look at my work!!! Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #armworkout #bicepsworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #biceps #armtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #barbellcurls

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At the Lancaster Classic Day 2 Elimination Rounds Against European Champion, and World Record Holder Leo Pettersen @leo_barebow_archer

I don't talk much about it but I'm also a competitive barebow archer (surprise!) and last Saturday I had the honor of making it to Day 2 at the Lancaster Archery Classic in the Barebow Division, as I made the top 64 out of 267 competitors and had a chance to shoot with some of the greatest barebow shooters on the planet!

I didn't make it past Leo, but it was a real rush to be there and a huge thanks to my coach, Joe MyGlyn @prolinearchery for helping me get there.

Thanks as well to my good friend @sean_chan33 for all of his help from the very start, to my line buddy Aaron Shea for taking the shot and showing up to support!

My thanks as well to rob_kaufhold for putting on and promoting one of the best archery tournaments on earth!

Thanks also to to everyone who took the time to send a supporting word and I am looking forward to next year!!! #naturallyintense #barebow

#lancasterclassic #lancasterarcheryclassic2024 #lancasterarchery #archery #fitover40 #barebowrecurve #targetarchery

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Dumbo, Brooklyn circa 2004

This shot was taken as part of the promotion for my Naturally Intense DVD and was about a year after my last bodybuilding competition.

It was a grueling photoshoot.

We started at about 10 am and finished around 4pm and I was completely spent, but the more we shot the sharper I looked, so we kept on going.

It's nice to look back from time to time and as tired as I was, we all had a blast!

My thanks to @stephanie_corne_artwork, @https://pulse.ly/itgnag2dec and @ftaz1 for taking the shots!!!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #throwback #fifthavenuegym #5thavenuegym #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildinglifestyle #gymlife #gymmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #bodybuilding #blackandwhite #instablackandwhite #bnw

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Can You Build An Impressive Physique Training Only At Home?


I stopped training in commercial gyms as of March 2020 and have been training at home ever since.

Initially I was admittedly worried that I might lose some of my gains or not make as much progress, but that certainly wasn't the case.

I've consistently continued to improve with my high intensity workouts and muscles have no idea where they are training.

As long as the criteria of adequate intensity and overload are met, there will be an adaptive response and your muscles will get bigger and stronger.

So don't worry at all about where you train, focus instead of what will be the best way for you to always be training!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

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Kevin's Three Day Training Spilt!

For the past 33 years I have trained three times a week with Naturally Intense High Intensity Training workouts lasting 10, 15 to 20 minutes max.

It's a training split tried and testes not only in it's helping me realize my goal of becoming a successful natural bodybuilder, but it's also helped hundreds of men and women over the past three decades.

I have tested just about every possible training split imaginable and for this particular style of high intensity training, this particular grouping consistently yields fantastic results.

I hope it helps you as much as it's helped me over the years and thanks so much for taking the time to look at my work.

Keep training hard and Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#trainingsplit #3daytrainingsplit #threedaytrainingsplit #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #bodybuilding #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips

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405 Stiff Leg Deadlift for 7 Reps! High Intensity Training.

First leg workout of the year and already pushing it!

I haven't done a stiff leg deadlift over 315lbs for about 3 years at this point, and I did my last set with 315lbs and comfortably got to 10 reps and decided I had far too much gas left in the tank and that I should go up in weight.

So I did.

I figured I might get a solid 6 reps in, but I made it to 7 and I think I could have gone on to get a full 10 reps BUT that's when good judgement prevailed.

As a bodybuilder having not trained this heavy for so many years, the shock of this much weight would be more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, and doing more reps wouldn't yield any greater returns, only increase the likelihood of injury.

It's not about the numbers, it's about training to a point where you achieve your goal, and it's important to have a goal in mind as a bodybuilder based on increasing muscle mass rather than hitting a particular number.

Besides, if in my 20's I never did more than 405lbs on a stiff leg deadlift, it doesn't make any sense going heavier than when I am almost 50!

Could I deadlift more at this point?

Absolutely but just because you can doesn't mean you should!

So keep those weights in a good working range, keep it safe and as always Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #roguerack #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #backworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #backtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #fitoverforty #deadlift

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Turning 50 in a few months...

Not much of a big deal for me as I still feel pretty much the same but I hope that my example helps show what can be done with a lifetime commitment to eating well and training consistently!

Thanks for coming along on the journey and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #healthylifestyle #fitover40 #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #natty #fitness

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Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardsonhttps://www.naturallyintense.net
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net

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