T Nation

A Question of Volume


Hi all.

So I've been reading a lot about low volume training. I'm not talking about HIT, I'm talking mainly about 'abbreviated training'.

The kind of stuff that entails 1-2 sets, with at least two days of rest between workouts. And let me get this straight, for this entire thread I am discussing mainly Full Body, Upper/Lower, and Push/Pull/Legs type routines.

Stuff like...
Iron Addicts*, DC training as well (alhtough it's split workouts it is still focussed arounf a few, big lifts). They are all interesting read and they make a hell of a lot of sense. I mean, I realized that after taking two to even three days of rest between full body days I am just rearing to go in the gym and attack the iron. My poundages increase more steadily.

Also the question of volume. I have been reading several studies showing that a single set is enough to elicit a growth response, and that the addition of more sets purely impairs recovery. I think most people can't stand doing JUST a single set, but it makes you wonder.

You look at the great results of Doggcrapp. The very low volume + high enough frequency to maximize stimulation, but enough recovery time = incredible gains in a lot of trainess who try it.

And yet, on this website I hardly see ANYTHING on this. Now don't get me wrong - T-Nation is a godsend (especially for newbies) and a brilliant collection of articles from many respectable coaches. But sometimes when reading some training routines I can't help but think - what if the trainee cut out half of those sets, and worked on doing just a few movements as best and hard as he could?

What if he just did a handful of exercises for a few sets each workout? And what if, because of this, he never overtrained and he could always progress? How much bigger and stronger could he be?

Routines like this I have read:

Day one:
Stiff-legged Deadlift
Pull-up or Pull-down
Barbell Curl

Day Two:
Bench Press or Incline Press
Military Press



military press 2 sets
close-grip bench press 2 sets
weighted dips 2 sets


deadlift or rack pull 2 sets
barbell row 2 sets
weighted chins 2 sets


squat 2 sets
standing calf raise 2 sets
abs 2 sets

These are two of obviously many examples. But the point is:
"Training Days are regulated by recovery ability, NOT the calendar. As long as the weights are going up all is well, if not add rest days or look at overall volume and intensity levels."

As you can tell I'm just really interested in this kind of stuff, and wondered why it hasn't been covered much here.

What do you guys think of abbreviated training?

A very interesting read on abbreviated training and how excessive volume can easily be a bad thing.


But if I do low volume how will my no2 give me a pump?


I disagree with this premise. Yes, training days are regulated by recovery ability, however if you're not recovering fast enough, resting more isn't the answer. The answer is to eat more. Don't reduce your training speed, increase your recovery rate.


I'm looking for serious answers and not some bullshit flaming.

I appreciate the humour but it has it's time and place.


And actually, I have done very low volume workouts, and they can give you a HELL of a pump. No2 or not.


This would be in my opinion the most obvious and best thing to do.

But a guestion - how does this work for people with a slow metabolism (me included)? If you are already eating enough to put on a pound a week, will increasing calories lead to more fat gain?


I like abbreviated training a lot. I'm glad you exluded HIT right from the get go as I feel they sort of go overboard with how abbreviated and especially the Mentzer crowd is pretty batty with recovery.

There is a big thread in this section called trying out doggcrap that I'm hoping stays alive and gets some more interest. I think Iron Addict is also a very smart guy and I wasn't doing DC it would likely be him I turned to for guidance.

DC has put 35+ lbs on me so I don't have anything but nice things to about it.


And to add, Jason Furregia(sorry if I spelled it wrong) wrote a simple article about training harder and do we need extra sets and it set off a shit storm here for days.


I couldn't help it. To be serious though, I got better results when I was doing 10x3 than when I was doing 2x5 if that helps. I recently (past 2years) started focusing on increasing volume and I quit worrying about ME as much.

Not surprisingly I lost maximal strength but improved body comp. More recently (~4 months) I started ME/DE weeks and I'll let ya know how I like after about 6 more months.