T Nation

Gironda 8x8 Program

Hi Coach, due to a current upper back/neck issue, I have been experimenting with programmes in a bid to find a decent routine which does not compromise my injury recovery yet prevents me from turning into a fat untrained slob. I am going to give Gironda’s 8x8 method a proper run out as I think the lighter weights are going to be more sympathetic to my condition. I am looking at a split based on being able to train 4 days a week:
Mon - Chest, triceps.
Tues - Back, biceps.
Thurs - Shoulders, triceps.
Sat - Legs
Each large muscle group = 3 exercises; smaller groups = 2 exercises. All sets would be done in 8x8 fashion.
Given your experience with his methods, could you offer some feedback regarding this suggested split - particularly volume and frequency? Many thanks in advance for your time.

Unless you are a genetic phenom, 5 exercises per workout using the 8x8 rep scheme is way too much. Vince’s trainees Larry Scott and Mohammed Makkaway used such a volume but they were, as Vince calls them, “genetic superiors” and also using drugs.

I myself made the mistake of doing such a set up and started to regress after 3 weeks.

Think about it… 8x8 for 3 exercises for chest and 2 for triceps basically is 24 sets for chest and anywhere between 24-32 sets for triceps (if you have 1 or 2 pressing exercises for chest, which also hit the triceps). That’s way too much.

The no.1 mistake made by natural trainees (and I’ve been guilty of this MANY times in the past due to my passion) is doing too much volume and using up too much glycogen. I just finished writing an article covering that subject but there are several physiological reasons why this completely HALTS muscle growth in the natural trainee. You’ll have to thrust me on this until the article comes out.

Thanks coach. I have found the research on this topic fairly confusing. Some authors (who claim to have trained under Vince) prescribe much more with twice or even three times a week frequency. I’ll cut it back further and see what happens.

Regarding your future article, I am intrigued. I have long moved away from glygogen-depleted training and, as much as I am impressed by Gironda, would struggle to go back to that style of low carb eating approached he advocated.

CT is this why my best progress has come from low volume, programs like your HFS or doggcrapp style . Whenever I do a traditional bodybuilder routine like once a week, 3-4 exercises for 6-12 reps I always feel flat etc… also seems like my muscles disappear if I don’t train them twice a week

Gironda’s 8 x 8 wasn’t intended to be a self-contained rep scheme. He suggested that the trainee start with 10 x 10, then cut reps to 8x8, 6x6 then 5x5 as the progression. In my own experience, the volume is more manageable by distributing it across training days instead of daily sessions. The frequency and volume is there but obviously five exercises per body part is too much. The volume kinda works itself out. In other words, if you train four times a week, you’ve intuitively landed on four exercises per body part per week, one per session.

Here’s a sneak peek…

The number one mistake made by natural trainees
I believe that the main mistake someone training without the help of performance enhancing drugs can make is to do too much volume.

The whole purpose of training to build muscle is to trigger protein synthesis. Once it’s been triggered there is no added benefit to continuing punishing a muscle, it will not grow more. In fact, it will grow less and might even lose size!

The key to growth is having the biggest difference between protein synthesis (building muscle) and protein breakdown (mobilizing amino acids from muscles for energy). The more volume you do, the more protein breakdown you get. Why? Because the more volume you do the more glycogen you need to burn for fuel.

What does this have to do about protein breakdown? Plenty!

When you have to mobilize stored glycogen you need to increase the release of cortisol. Basically during training cortisol’s role is to mobilize energy to be used for fuel.

The more fuel you need, the greater the cortisol release.

So the more volume you do, the more glycogen you need to burn, the greater the cortisol release.

And cortisol also comes with a drawback: it can hurt muscle growth. It does so 3 ways:

  1. By increasing the breakdown of amino acids from muscles… basically cortisol breaks down muscle tissue to turn it into fuel. That’s why we say that cortisol is a catabolic hormone.

  2. By inhibiting mTor. MTor is the light switch that turns on protein synthesis (muscle building). Cortisol can inhibit mTor directly and my increasing the level of AMPK. So the more cortisol you produce, the more likely you are to negate the effect of training on protein synthesis. Basically mTor will turn on muscle-building, cortisol can turn it off

  3. Cortisol and other glucocorticoids increase the expression of the myostatin gene. Myostatin expression limits the amount of muscle you build. The more myostatin expression you have, the less muscle you build. High cortisol levels, and thus a high volume of work, lead to a greater myostatin expression during the recovery period after a workout.

So what we want is to trigger mTor/protein synthesis but also keep cortisol release as low as possible to maximize the growth stimulus. This means that volume must be kept low.

It also means that since you can’t afford to do a lot of volume you have to make sure that the volume you do is done at an intensity level that will trigger mTor activation.

Note that enhanced (drug-using) bodybuilders do not have that same problem.

Enhanced bodybuilder do not need to stimulate protein synthesis with the session: the anabolic hormones they are taking artificially increase protein synthesis 24/7. As such doing too much volume will not have the same negative impact as for a natural trainee.

Great read CT, question is how do you know what the sweet spot is for volume?

Why not work up to one hard set with a compound lift and then one hard set with an isolation (with intensity techniques) and done for the body part, them repeat 3 or 4 days later. Or is this not enough volume ?

Wait for the article :wink:

Ha OK CT! Looking forward to it

But you have some things correct

I was thinking logically all you have to do is send the signal for growth to occur, so why wouldn’t one all out set, with sufficient reps, and failure be enough to stimulate. Then also it’s low enough volume so you can train the same muscle fairly soon after…more frequency bad always been optimal for progress no?

I’ve always thought intensity and frequency were the main factors for growth, with volume being useful only when you reach a strength/size level where the only way to progress is just do more work, or perhaps increase density. But I suppose you could again do one or two all out sets but just add more intensity techniques into the set to increase the density and work done in one set.

So I’ve always though, stimulate fast twitch fibres as much as possible with minimum volume, so either 8-12sets of 3 reps, trained explosively and/or one all out rest pause, drop set etc…