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High Volume, Low Reps

Has anyone gained appreciable hypertrophy from doing high volume, low rep work?

I’ve seen a lot written about it, but not too many people have commented on the experiences they’ve had with it.

It’s not that I don’t agree with it, I do. I’m just interested in some real life application.

I’ve decided to forgo my track dream due to nagging injuries, and am geared more towards bodybuilding type work with a partial emphasis on athletism now.

I’m currently 6’3, 222 lbs, approx. 8% bf. It seems to be a sticking point for me. I’m not really too interested in getting any more muscular, but the idea of getting to 230 lbs. at the same leaness intrigues me.

I’m currently following this concept, without ever going to failiure(stopping a few reps short) and it works great. I learned it from Chad Waterbury, just as did many others. His articles are all over the archives, check them out.

I’ve read all the articles. I’m more interested in people’s experience with it.

bump

I’m getting the best results of my training “career” with this type of training.

I have to be honest, I have tried Chad’s programs and I really enjoy them and get stronger. But hypertrophy? I haven’t noticed any. Of course, maybe I am not eating enough and with many years of training behind me gaining new muscle is hard to do.
I too look forward to any feedback, and if anyone has, like me, not gained any new muscle, I would appreciate their honesty.

I recently read that any load that is below 70% 1rm is not a productive use of your time. My new approach? well, not new, just as you stated, heavy weight, low reps. I have s#1T canned tempo counting. Whatever weight I use I accelerate the weight. Going too fast? load is too low. My thinking is that there is no real way to measure what force is being generated in the practical world, so why not vary the load and accelerate it to generate maximum force. Negative is done in a controlled slowish manner. I am enjoying my workouts more and more. When do I terminate a set? when the acceleration is noticeably slower than the first rep. Have to thank Staley for that. managing fatigue is working for me.

Personally, I have never achieved hypertrophy by performing low reps high volume.

I do think it depends a great deal on what fiber type you are. As a naturally slow twitch fiber individual I think that working in the eight to twelve rep range has helped me develop better. For others I am sure that lower reps and higher volume worked well.

I really think it depends on body type…and how long you have been training as well.

One thing to consider is what do you perceive to be low reps?
I tried 10 sets of 3 and gained very little but when I did 10 sets of 5 I added and inch to my arms in 9 weeks! And I had been stuck at 18" for a very, very long time!

I also believe that some of us need more reps. I too am very tall and have always noticed I need more sets and more reps total to induce growth.

The old German Volume Training and The Beast’s OVT training was based on doing a 100 reps per muscle group.

The following might sound like overtraining to everybody who reads this but I currently do 20 sets of 5 reps (none to failure mind you) with 60 seconds rest (or less) per muscle group and my gains are astonishing…and that at 36 years old working 60 hours a week!

I know this is a bit unorthodox but I am making the best gains of my life (248lbs @ 11% bodyfat, up 18lbs from 6 months ago).

When giving low reps a try, find out how low the reps can be and how many sets you need to do (keep rest minimal, do NOT rest 3 minutes etc).

Good luck

I switched to 10 sets of 3 reps a few months ago and gained 2-3lbs in the first six weeks or so along with BIG increases in strength that haven’t stopped coming. Alternating chins/dips for 10 sets of each is AWESOME. I started alternating those high volume workouts with lower volume high-rep work (where I go closer to failure), and the results have been great. My wife likes the results so much she constantly asks me what I’m doing different. That’s it.

Thanks guys. I’m leaning more towards 8-10 sets of 3 with one minute rests. I’ve done this a number of times in the past but I feel it’s very hard to recover from. I’m guessing it’s CNS fatigue from all the low rep work.

I try and stay away from failure, leaving a couple reps in the hole. I think my stimulant use is what’s getting the most of me though. I think it’s dipping in to my CNS reserves. I’ve been taking 400mg - 800mg of caffeine per day for awhile now and I think it’s catching up to me. I’m in the process of withdrawal at the moment so we’ll see how much my recovery improves, if it does so at all.

[quote]Doval wrote:

The following might sound like overtraining to everybody who reads this but I currently do 20 sets of 5 reps (none to failure mind you) with 60 seconds rest (or less) per muscle group and my gains are astonishing…and that at 36 years old working 60 hours a week!

I know this is a bit unorthodox but I am making the best gains of my life (248lbs @ 11% bodyfat, up 18lbs from 6 months ago).

when using your approach, how much strength did you gain in your given lifts? Also what kind of intensity were you using and at what rate was strength going up? When did you decide to move up in poundages? This sounds like an EDT type of training.

Also what is your training split like. I can see why mass would increase using this routine due to the short rest periods and the high volume but as far as strength goes, i don’t see it going up in correct proportion to the mass because of neural fatigue and low creatine phosphate replensihment becuae of the low rest periods. Also if the type 2b fibers are to be used then they would come into play in the later sets because of the fatiguing of the other muscles fibers first unless the weight was always accelerated at a maximum to make sure those fibers were used. If this was indeed the case then i don’t see it possible to be able to hold on to intensity for a lot of sets like you prescribed.
laters pk

[quote]pkradgreek wrote:

Q: when using your approach, how much strength did you gain in your given lifts?

Answer by Doval:
Let me use my weakest muscle group and exercise as an example: Biceps and Barbell Curls. An old elbow injury, thin wrists and small hands always made this difficult for me. At 18" the best I could do was 135lbs (super strict), three times. Currently I can curl this seven times and 145lbs three times. So that would be a 7.5% increase in strenght. Not that much over 6 months but I STILL have the elbow injury and it still bothers the hell out of me. Most other lifts I have been able to make a 10-12.5% increase at 5 reps (also, my bench press went from 315lbs three times to 325lbs five times, and here too the elbow is a limiting factor). Hope that answers your question.

Q: Also what kind of intensity were you using and at what rate was strength going up?

Answer by Doval:
I initially started with 80% and did as many sets as I could never resting more than 75 sec (in the beginning). Unfortunately after 6-9 sets the 5th rep became the ‘failure rep’. I did not want to increase rest between sets so I lowered the weight to 75% and used that till I could do 20 sets of five (first time I did 12 sets with 60 sec rest, then 3 sets of 4, 3 sets of three and some singles to finish…to give you an idea…

Q: Also what is your training split like.

Answer by Doval:
One exercise per muscle group, 60 minutes per work out (whether I am done or not), 4-6 work outs per week, 2-3 muscle groups per workout (cannot give you any more details since I go by feel a lot…also, I do train when I am sore.
I rest the muscle for three days, work out and then rest four days before working it out again and that’s one cycle. After three of these cycles I rest actively for a week. I then do three full body workouts (lasting only a half hour), all exercises 20 reps…to rest and de-condition the muscles a bit (works great for me)

Q: When did you decide to move up in poundages? This sounds like an EDT type of training.

Answer by Doval:
It is indeed based on EDT and Vince Gironda’s methods. I move up in poundages only when I can do 20 sets of 5 and NONE of the sets are till failure (hope that makes sense). I then test/estimate my 1 rep max and take 75% of that and start over again.

Q:/Remark: I can see why mass would increase using this routine due to the short rest periods and the high volume but as far as strength goes, i don’t see it going up in correct proportion to the mass because of neural fatigue and low creatine phosphate replensihment becuae of the low rest periods.

Answer by Doval:
You are right, but a strenght increase of 7.5% - 12.5% over 6 months is actually not that bad and the 7/8 of an inch on my arms is real good, certainly at my age and after training for 20 years. I plan on doing a 12 week strenght program next to solidify my gains and to be able to use more weight when I go back to this program.

Remark: Also if the type 2b fibers are to be used then they would come into play in the later sets because of the fatiguing of the other muscles fibers first unless the weight was always accelerated at a maximum to make sure those fibers were used.

Answer by Doval:
I indeed accelerate the weight on every rep during the first 3 sets (after that I get in the ‘groove’ and do not think about it anymore)

Remark: If this was indeed the case then i don’t see it possible to be able to hold on to intensity for a lot of sets like you prescribed.
laters pk

Answer by Doval:
You are right, which is why I first rest three days, then four days and after three of those cycles actively rest/de-condition for a week (as suggested by Gironda and Brian from HST training)

Thanks for your response…I actually learned from it and I hope I answered you well.

Cheers!

Hey Doval, thanks for the awesome response. I wish every thread was like this. I’m glad to see that you are making good progress and being disciplined. i believe that is very important. I too have been suffering from injury, elbow tendonitis, for sometime. i wrap every workout and i ice down and use topical pain relief. It comes and goes. laters pk

Great Progress Doval!

I am experimenting with Hi Volume/Low reps.

How did you change your diet to accomidate the new volume? Also, when you talk about you roation of training and say that you wait 3 days, did that mean:

Monday train bicpes
Thursday train biceps again?

Do you do that fore every body part where you are hitting twice weekly with that hi of a volume or just areas you are focusing on?

To be clear, you are doing 200 total reps per body part in a 7 week cycle.