High Intensity/Low Volume Strategy for Big Lifts

Hi coach. I see recently that You are using and promoting high intensity/low volume training. I like this way of working so I would like to also try it.
My goal is general health/good moving/some mass etc. just average Joe stuff so I also want to add more cardio to my routines to improve my cardiovascular system.

I like 4 days a week modified Push/Pull split I also like big lifts: Zercher/Front squat, SGHP, Muscle Snatch, Dips.
I’m wonder if can intensifiers be used on those lifts or maybe better to start every workout with one of those moments with 3 sets of 5 reps as double progression and then perform intensifiers for rest of the exercises?

For example one of the push day:
A1. Zercher squat 3x 5reps double progression
B1. DB incline press intensifier 1 set
C1. DB lateral rise intensifier 1 set
D1. Triceps exercise intensifier 1 set

What I do in my coaching group is that the “big free-weight lift” of the day is trained with a more traditional strength approach. typically 3 work sets of 5 reps using the double progression method (when you can get all of your work sets for 5 reps at the same weight you can add weight the next session) and the rest of the workout uses 1 work set per exercise, to failure an often with an intensifier.

EDIT: Which is exactly how you want to do it… good job

Now, the one thing that I’ll add is that the intensifier changes every 1-3 weeks depending on the level of the person. The less advanced someone is, the longer he stays with the same intensifier.

For example:

Step 1: 1 work set to failure
Step 2: go to failure then add lengthened/bottom range partials to failure
Step 3: go to failure then do a drop set (allowing no more than 6 extra reps)
Step 4: go to failure in a rest/pause set (something like 6 reps / rest 20 sec / 3 reps)
Step 5: double rest/pause


Awesome. So I was really close :slight_smile:
Thank You very much.

Do You also use weighted carries at the end of the workout with a traditional approach of 3-4 sets for time(for example 1min)?

I don’t but it certainly is something that you can add. I typically use a maximum of 6 exercises per session. So if you have 4 or 5 lifting exercises, you do have room for one loaded carry exercise.

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Perfect, I will give it a go and let You know how it works for me. Thank You

Do You think that in the latter stage/phase instead of weighted carries metcon can be added at the end of 2-3 workouts a week?

That I would not suggest doing. A metcon replaces a workout, it should not be added to it


Didn’t know that. I often see 3 rounds of some metcon (3 exercises circuit at the end of the session). You would also not recommend intervals/tabata at the end of workout?

Well, it is “possible” to do a metcon after hypertrophy work, but I don’t recommend it. At least not when building as much muscle as possible is the goal.

To be fair, I used to add metcons at the end of lifting sessions. But I no longer do that, unless hypertrophy is a secondary goal and conditioning is primary.

I much prefer to do energy system session (“hard cardio” like metcons, intervals, circuits, etc.) on different training days than lifting days.

From my own experience, and experience with tons of clients, trying to get everything at the same time rarely works.

Building muscle is hard and takes time
Getting strong is hard and takes time
Building top conditioning capacities is hard and takes time
Getting leaner is hard and takes time

So to have the best chance of success, IF YOU DON’T HAVE ELITE GENETICS AND/OR DON’T TRAIN FOR A LIVING, don’t try to do everything at once. It rarely pans out the way you think it will and you often end up tired and burned out.

You can still do cardio/conditioning (in fact, you should) while training to build muscle and you can (and should) still lift when your goal is to develop your endurance and resistance.

But you shouldn’t train both at a very high level at the same time. And you should likely do the work in separate sessions (both sessions can be on the same day, but hours apart)


Doing a good level of everything quickly builds up overall training stress and normal people with a regular life (job, family, stress) will more often run into problems than successes.

The problem is that there are genetic freaks (or PEDs users) who DO build a great physique while also getting explosive, fast and a cardio machine at the same time. And they make us believe that it’s an effective approach for all while it’s something that only genetic elites or PEDs users will get good results from.


Now, if your goal is better cardio,you should start with low-intensity stuff first.

Cardio at a max of 120 beats per minute for 30-45 min will not interfere with recovery and progression.

Walking 10 000+ steps per day will not interfere with recovery and progression.

That’s what you should add first as this can be done more often and after sessions.

When you have built a foundation with low-intensity work you can add intervals (not Tabatas… anyway, NOBODY does real tabatas which actually feel like you are both drowning and on fire at the same time) or metcons. But that’s high-intensity work. Which WILL hurt increase recovery needs and can negatively impact lifting workout performance. So it’s not something that you should do at a high frequency. One or twice a week, once you have built your foundation.


That totally makes sense. Never thought about goals this way. You know we see a lot of posts with people who train all day but as You said it is no go for someone with real life. Thank You very much for the voice of reasons.

Crossfit gives us a good example of this. The top athletes are jacked, have great cardio, are strong and mobile, etc.

But go to any Crossfit box and look at the people doing the group classes. None of them remotely approach what the top guys/gals look like. And it’s not uncommon for a lot of get injured and burned out. I’ve trained Crossfit athletes and have spent tons of time in several Crossfit boxes and you’ll have like 2-3 people there (out of 200+ members) who would qualify as looking good and being strong and athletic. But these are typically younger people without much stress.