The Volume debate for building muscle

May 27, 2008

Its always interesting when some real-life experience differs from what is commonly found in a book. I’ve also come to realize that these moments serve as wonderful lessons learned. Let me explain why I bring this up…

It is widely accepted that to build muscle, one must employ higher rep sets (usually around 8-12 reps) for a large number of sets (for non-newbie trainees this usually varies from 4 to 10 sets). This is all well and good and obviously it works or else it would have been removed from updated editions of weight training resources. However, my issue is when this is seen as some iron-clad rule.

I have an issue with this mainly because I have experienced some of the best muscle gains from either lower rep training phases (under 6 reps per set) or phases in which I limit the number of sets I perform (sometimes as low as 2 per exercise). Now I’m not about the come across and say that these methods that worked for me will work for everybody, because then I’d be just as ignorant as the 100%-High Volume proponents. However I will say that creating a muscle building program (just as any other) requires careful consideration of the trainee: what’s their training age, body type, what are THEIR specific goals, etc

Jason Ferruggia, a trainer known the world-over for getting his clients to add slabs of muscle while on his programs has found through over 15 years as a fitness professional that generally skinnier body types tend to build muscle more successfully with lower rep training, higher load training. I first found out about lower volume for hypertrophy through some of his articles, and it taught me that there was more than one way to build muscle.

So if 4 sets of 10 reps per exercise isn’t giving you the gains you’d like, try 5 sets of 5 reps.

You may find that lowering the training volume may be somethign that works for you.

CB

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