I’ve debated posting about this, because I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested, but I’ve decided, “Ah, what the hell.”
I got on Jay Cutler’s email list early in the year and he puts out some interesting info. I don’t necessarily agree with everything, but a 4x Mr. Olympia probably knows way more than I do. For those who don’t know, he promotes a high volume training method and some of the sample workouts he sends out can be way over 20 sets for a single muscle group. He’s got a couple e-books, one being, “Jay Cutler’s Guide to High Volume Training.” I was curious how he would actually set up a full training block, rather than just individual workouts, so when it went on sale, I picked it up.
I train 5 days/week, so went off that routine. Basically, you have 3 weeks where the sets stay consistent, but the exercise selection/order switches each week. Week four is a deload and then the weeks 5-7 repeat the same exercises rotation and 1-3, but add a set or two here and there. Week 8 is another deload, then you’d start back at week 1. All exercises are done in an 8-12 rep range.
Going in, I was worried that the volume would be crazy, but while it was maybe a bit higher than a lot of other programs, it wasn’t insanely off. The number of sets from the first block totaled 102 for the week, or an average of 17/body part. It peaked in the second block at 122 sets, or 20.3 sets/body part.
I believe a study by Radaelli et al and another by Shoenfeld showed increased hypertrophy up to 45 sets/week. That’s just two studies and there’s always caveats, such as trained vs untrained participants, study length, etc. I’ve also seen/heard that 10-20 is probably a good range, long term, which seems reasonable. This is just to show that even the peak average of 20.3 sets/body part isn’t that excessive.
I also compared it to Clay Hyght’s A Tried and True Bodybuilding Program Template, from this site. It’s 5 day set up has a 94 sets/week or an average of 15.7 sets/body part (not including calves and forearms), which is right in that “sweet spot,” but also not too far off of Jay Cutler’s first block numbers. The big difference is Jay Cutler’s program has 4 more sets for arms and 4 for hams in the first block and 10 mores sets for arms, 7 more for hams, and 5 more for shoulders than Clay’s in the second block. Chest, back, and quads are actually pretty similar.
Then when you compare it to the advanced program Arnold’s Encyclopedia of bodybuilding, it’s like 1/3 of the volume.
I’m not sure if I have a point for this post, other than I thought it was interesting, so figured someone else might as well…