T Nation

Bill R volume and intensity question

Bill what do you recommend for number of work sets(non warm ups) per body part, and the intensity of these sets(how many to concentric failure etc) while “on” as opposed to “clean”?

I’m not Bill, but I’ll tell you this much - there’s no special amount of set in stone as for how many sets to do. Read the articles on Converging Phase Training, Sets and Reps, and EDT (last weeks issue) by Charles Staley. This should get you going in the general direction of determining the optimal amount of work. Suffice it to say that you should monitor speed of execution on each set/rep, and when speed drops you terminate that exercise/muscle group. When on a heavy cycle of AAS, you can probably up your training volume (sets x reps x poundage) by up to 50%, while focusing on lifting heavy weight for your core-exercises. The week following cessation of the cycle, you keep intensity (%age of 1RM) high - but reduce number of set by 50-60%, to facilite better HPTA recovery while still maintaining as much strength and muscle mass as possible.

Hope that helps.

Sure, it can definitely vary, and under
different circumstances anywhere from
two or perhaps one set per week per bodypart
up to twenty or more can give excellent results.

With experience you can tell when you’ve
done enough. If the muscles feel like, “Stick a fork in, we’re done” then they probably are
even if this is only 2 or 3 sets.

I don’t really believe in “failure” per se,
trying to do something (a rep) that cannot be done, putting truly maximum effort into lifting
it and failing to do so, having to put the weight back down. I don’t believe this improves results but does tax the nervous system terribly.

It’s pretty much optional whether to do
as many reps as possible on each set (but no
more) or to follow a plan where the first
set is say 1 or 2 reps short of this. Either
approach works quite well.

Bill I am curious to know how many “WORK” sets you do per body part while “on”, as opposed to “off”, and if you normally go until you have completed the last possible rep in good form(once warmed up).

I too have noticed trouble with recovery when training REALLy hard for more than a few weeks. I think it is wise to do as many reps as you can in a sets, once warmed up, but not actually failing to complete the last rep. (Thanks for the re-enforcement Bill) This is much harder than many men train, especially with regard to legs. On the other hand I know of many guys that always keep at least one rep in them, and try to up the weight progressively each week with lowish reps Ie: the tried and true 5X5 program with but three work sets of 5 reps.


Yet others, including myself, have had rapid results with a few weeks of very intense training. Even Dorian Yates never trained with very high intensity for more than six weeks at a time before backing off.
As a general rule, that I have learned the “hard way”,…it is best to focus on adding weight to the bar every week, small amounts while off and bigger amounts while on, as opposed to an intensity at all costs focus.

During a cycle, ballpark areas that
I think good in terms of number of sets
per week are about 10 each for shoulders
and chest, 15 for upper and midback, 10-20
for calves. Quads and hams can vary greatly.
As little as 2 sets per week each can sometimes be very effective, while other times
it could work very well to have 20 sets
per week. Lower back is probably best kept
to a moderate number like 5 sets. Arms and
abs, as desired.

Off, I cut all that about in half, though
actually it certainly is possible for many
to do very well naturally on volumes like
72 sets per week.

I tend to do the first set about one rep
short of the maximum I could do, and then try to match that in all later sets if possible (which it might not be, depending on the number of sets.)