I have been lifting for almost 3 years with mostly 5x5 style of workouts. I also do conditioning work 2 days a week. On and Off I have tried some High volume workouts like GVT but I find that more volume with less load doesnt work well for me.
I do have a lot of size however I am not happy with the density of my muscles. I notice I look soft and it is not all about Body fat. I feel that my muscles are not dense. For eg : I have a very good Lat spread but my Lats don’t look thick. Like wise my shoulders look soft when they are relaxed.
What kind of programming ideology would you suggest to increase muscle density. I have read that you recommend doing 20 reps of less load after completing the desired sets and I feel that it works well.
I am 185 cms and 220 lbs and all my big lifts are ~120% BW.[/quote]
When I talk about “density work” (doing 20-30 reps with 70-80% in as little time as possible) I’m not talking about the hardness of the muscle but in the density of the work (doing a lot of work in little time).
Muscle hardness can be genetic but most of the time (when fat is not the cause) it’s a matter of neural activation/efficiency or the ratio of fast-twitch fibers in a muscle.
The more efficient your nervous system is, the harder you will be at rest because the nervous system keeps the muscles in a state of partial activation.
It puzzles me though because the type of work that improves neural efficiency the most is heavy (and explosive) work. At 5 x 5 you are in the proper zone.
Going for 10 x 3 strength work (with 87-90%) with added explosive work (jumps, throws, olympic lift variation if you can learn the, 6-12 seconds sprints) might do the trick. I don’t know what your split is, but hitting a major muscle group more often also helps with muscle tone.
On the other hand it is possible that you are overtraining… excessive training can lead to a loss of muscle tone.
A last possibility is that you are not as lean as you think you are. For example you can have more intramuscular fat, which makes the muscles look soft. You can have visible abs yet carry more fat around the rest of your body and your abs makes you think that you are leaner than you really are ; we often judge leanness via the look of the abs. I once trained a young football player with a superb 6 pack, but who had 13% body fat just because he didn’t store much fat on his stomach. His muscles looked “soft”, but that was simply due to fat covering them.