Why is it that almost everyone you see working out in the gym does high volume bodypart splits? Today is Monday and in just about every gym in America that means it’s chest day. Tomorrow is back, Thursday is legs and Friday is arms…or something like that, I guess.
Why the lack of variety or rational thought? What is the need for all that training volume?
You need to understand that most forms of training have just been passed down for decades from one generation to the next, without the inclusion of rational thought. Sometime in the 60’s, sensible training programs started becoming less and less prevalent with the rapidly growing usage of anabolic steroids.
In the days of old, men like Steve Reeves and Paul Anderson trained with far more sensible, lower volume programs but these started to disappear during the 60’s. By the time Arnold got to Gold’s Gym in Venice for the first time, high volume, bodypart splits were the widely accepted way for everyone to train for size and strength.
This type of training is not based on deductive reasoning but just on the fact that “it’s what everyone else is doing.” The proponents of these training methods will always blindly tell you that “higher volume training is needed for hypertrophy gains.” Says who?
I can tell you for a fact that the University of Chicago isn’t wasting time examining the effects of Jay Cutler’s marathon workouts. There are no studies saying that you need 8-12 sets per bodypart to grow. In fact there are studies that show the opposite; that one set is just as effective as three.
The proponents of this type of training will also tell you that higher volume training is associated with higher levels of growth hormone secretion. What they don’t tell you is that the level of GH increase is not enough to make any difference at all.
In fact, almost anything you do elevates GH. Extreme temperatures elevate GH but my biceps don’t get bigger every time I take a shower. The increased GH secretion from training is so minimal that it is not enough to make the slightest difference whatsoever.
For the drug free lifter who does not possess muscle building genetics quite up to par with the Austrian Oak, training this way is a huge mistake. Not only does it drain your amino acid pool and glycogen stores but it dramatically enhances your recovery time between workouts.
If you do 8-12 sets for chest on Monday you can not recover from that workout and be able to train again for seven days. So you are only getting one growth stimulus per week or fifty two per year. Now if you reduce your volume to the point where you can recover faster and more efficiently without draining your amino acid pool and glycogen stores so greatly, you can train bodyparts twice per week instead of once.
Now instead of 52 growth stimulating workouts per year for each bodypart, you can now do 104. In fact, if your volume is kept low you can even get away with training bodyparts three times a week in certain situations. Now, which do you think will be more effective; 156 growth stimulating workouts per year or 52?
To train more often you absolutely have to lower your training volume. The total sets per workout should be kept low and the total sets per exercise should be even lower.
There is no need to hit four sets of incline presses, flat bench presses and decline presses for your chest workout. Doing that is a form of neuroses; you think that you need to hit every angle and do and endless amount of sets to stimulate every last muscle fiber, but this is simply not the case.
The reason these training programs remain popular is because nobody wants to be told that they are wrong. Admitting your mistakes is something many people can’t do. It is why when something radically different is proposed, the high volume proponents get upset and offended. Nobody likes to have their ego bruised so they keep on doing and promoting the same old high volume workouts that they always have.
That’s fine, let them continue to do what they choose; personally I have way more important things to do than spend all of my waking hours in the gym. If I can get better results in a fraction of the time I will choose that option every time.
Cut your volume down, up your weights and intensity and get ready for the “what are you on” questions to start rolling in.
i totally agree about the article but it doesn't explain how high volume training can be structured. I prefer high volume training when I have been off gym for a long time.
Here's my way:
Week 1: 8/8, week 2: 10/10; week 3: 12/12; week 4: 15/15
Mon: bench press and barbell biceps curl
Tue: squats and lateral shoulder raise
Wed: barbell row and French curls
Thu: Flyes and preacher curls
Fri: deadlifts and preacher curls
Sat: lat pull-downs and tricep rope curls.
I DON'T BELIEVE THIS HIGH VOLUME PROGRAM IS QUITE HECTIC EXCEPT IN THE 4TH WEEK.
Your advice please...
I do the following
day 1: chest, triceps.
day 4:shoulders, back
day 5: arms, abs
day 6 rest
day 7 repeat from day 1.
12 sets of each with about 7 or 8 reps.
Need to rest after two days mentally and physically.
Its a six day rotation. If i wait extra day its too long. one less day and i cant fit everything in.
Could you possibly show a couple weekly workout examples of this method? Thanks
after years if splits, i've been doing:
Squat/hinge/press/pull/carry/core, 5-6 days a week.
It's great- give it a try before you knock it.
Well post a workout then?
I've been doing stronglifts 5x5 (stronglifts.com) for the past three months and I will never ever get back to split routines. The progression I've made so far are the best since I started working out. I also haven't touched any dumbell since, and my arms are bigger then before!
This article is indeed true. I've been working out since 06 and have gotten better results in the past 3 years when I learn this then I've had in the past. My basic routine when I began lifting was just like "everybody else" where as 5/6 days per week body part splits is just the "generic" thing to do in today's world. Until I started studying beasts in the gym. Basic common sense people. Be observant of those with great physiques and don't be afraid to ask questions. And today I can say I myself get the question "Bro what are you taking"
Basic workout: Unwrap your head around the splits and start doing full body workouts - Less reps more weight (not failure weight just about 75% until failure weight for LAST SETS, what ever that means to you) DO PYRAMID SETS 3 max. FOCUS on major body parts
1. Dead lifts
2. Master the pull up/chin up
3. Over head clean presses
Note: If you make theses specific workouts a daily routine (NOT HIGH VOLUME) your sure to release great GH NATURALLY in turn giving you GREAT GAINS. Use common sense allow your self time to recover for ex: if your extra sore on a specific body part there are always 21's to do. You can't do enough of those. And the last thing MAKE SURE to STRETCH, STRETCH & STRETCH Stretchering releases built up muscle fibers and tension so blood can rush in & give you that great PUMP. If your not achieving that PUMP you will not grow it is as simple as that. Case closed
Good Luck & happy lifting!
sounds like a nonsensical rant from someone who trains chest and arms everyday
Hey guys, to answer some of these questions.... ( In my opinion )
I think the author is proposing M, W, F w/out. Try 5 X 5 emphasizing on squats, bench, rows, shrugs, bi/tri...rotating in shoulders and abs. The main thing is nutrition and rest, that fact will always remain the same.
Low Volume, High Weights.. Isn't this strength-training?
so you train chest twice a week? then how you arrange the workout program?how about another big muscle, if each you train twice then you hit the gym everyday?
Great article! Hard to get people to understand!
I do upper body/ lower body split three times a week each and it works for me.
Well, and there are also studies that prove that 3 sets are ultimately more effective than 1.
Personally, I've been training for 5 years and I've tried lower volume/higher frequency training very often, but it's never worked for me. Apparently I need lots of recovery and so 3- or 4-day splits are what works best for me. I only switch it up with high frequency training (where I train 10-12 times a week for 3 or 4 weeks) twice or thrice per year.
I say everyone needs to try different approaches, and with experience you'll find out what works best for your body and how you enjoy training the most.
I'm always up for something new. I've had some good success with the high volume training, but not like I'd like. Especially because I feel like I lose strength. I'm with Kris who posted above me. For those of us up for the change, what would a sample week or workout look like?
I already do high weight at about 8 reps, but for only 3 sets and I do 2-3 muscle groups every workout, to mix things up and to alternate to give my body a little rest on one body part while I work on another and then come back to the first one....is that what you're talking about? I'm in the military and for me any time I can cut off of my time in the gym would be great, especially during deployments. So I would definitely like an example workout just to get a better idea of what you're saying.
So is this your opinion or fact? At least give a reference or a source for the info you provide. And how about a workout example or two? This article is vague at best. Sad because it could be factual;but there is no way of telling.
It also seems that everybody that writes an article never responds to the questions left in the comment section. How bout answering a few question?
Don't get me wrong, it aint that I don't believe you, I would just like a tad bit more than what appears to be opinion.
I would love to see a week long training schedule as an example. I realize you do not want to give out all your secrets, but just enough to see where to start.
I liked the article but isn't the "because everybody's doing it" type splits because it is giving people good results? It makes sense that if you train your muscles as frequently as possible you will have more growth given you have adequte resting periods. I'm just wondering what kind of training you are talking about, total body, upper/lower, etc. Also is there any research or articles to help support this.
Would it be possible to get a sample workout or two using this method to get a better idea of what to do?
Lee Labrada's 123 Lean Body Workout Program
glad I discovered your site when I did Jason, saved me from the one bodypart per day split, I cant believe I was so stupid to believe id grow on that
interesting article. its true there is a lot of dogma when it comes to muscle building. A lot of the widely accepted methods considered the standard are rarely questioned and as a result, even after years of research and trial and error I keep being swayed by popular opinions and new schools of thought that crop up periodically. I guess as long as your making some sort of gains then keep doing what your doing. If it aint broke, right?
I learned about this type of training from SS and Candito training from youtube, and it works so dam good its amazing. I increased all my weights fast as hell this way, Much recommended. Good articel.
So are you recommending 3 reps or 4 or 5 at max?