T Nation

Length and Volume of workouts

I have been lifting for 6 months and lost 20 lbs so far…I am 6’1 and 250 and currently I have been concerned with my workouts lasting for 1.5 to 2 hours. I lift 4 days a week and do 30 min cardio after each lifting session, so I spend like 3 hours in the gym. During the workout I do a split session, Mon - chest + calves + abs (7 exercises; 28 sets); Tue - Legs(8 exercises; 22 sets); Thurs - Back + Shoulders(10 exercises; 29 sets); Fri - Bi’s + Tri’s(7 exercises; 26 sets). Reps average about 8-15 and tempo is 20X0 and I use extremely strict form, and try not to cheat. My questions are: Am I doing too many sets? Should I cut my workout down to under 1 hour? I read somewhere the T levels drop when you workout longer than 1 hour. Also, I change my workout every 4 weeks, get plenty protein, eat about 3000 cal a day, and take a variety of multivitamins, glutamine, and creatine. My current lifts are: Bench-185x12; Squat-315x10; Curls-95x10; I still need to lose a lot of weight, so I plan on going on to the anabolic diet-cutting phase as soon as I get back to college in the fall. Does anybody see a problem with my workout? Comments and sugestions are welcome. Thank You.

I would say you’re doing far too many sets for your level of training. A beginner 6 months into training does not need to be doing 8 exercises for legs. As a recommendation I would say for your larger muscle groups legs, chest, and back, cut your sets down to 10 or 12. For your smaller muscle groups cut the sets down to around 6. This will give you about a 25-30% reduction in volume I believe. Superset things whenever you can so you can finish quicker. On chest day you could superset calves and abs. On leg day superset quads and hams…Then you can superset back and shoulders as well as bi’s and tris. Training in this manner you can go basically non-stop and still be able to lift a heavy weight. The cardio done after the workout is very catabolic on your muscle.
If you must do it then at least make sure you sip on a protein/carb drink while you’re doing your cardio.

Holy shit!! I don’t mean to sound like Mike Mentzer but you are most likely habitually, chronically, and grossly overtrained. You’ve dug such a deep hole into your recovery ability that you need a minimum of 10 days of rest with no workouts. Unless you just finished a couple months of Heavy Duty training and you’re switching to something like GVT (excluding calves) there is never any reason why a work out should have more than 12 working sets. That’s 12 sets total not 12 per muscle group. If you’re not using roids or supplements you most likely need even less exercise. A bodybuilding workout is not an endurance contest.

The thing is I feel fine…i have tried to cut my sets down but I dont feel the second day soreness like I do with the number of sets high(25-30). Is it normal to not feel sore? I always give it my all. Will I get better results with less sets(10-12) per workout?

No one knows much about muscle soreness other than it hurts. Do you go to the gym to develop larger and stronger muscles, or to get sore? If your answer is larger and stronger muscles reduce your volume down to 7-12 sets per work out.

I don’t goto the gym to get sore I go to get large and powerful. I always heard that if you are sore the muscles are repairing themselves…so isn’t soreness an indicator that you are creating larger and stronger muscles? Is this statement correct? I am getting more confused… I was always told to change my workouts every 4 weeks to shock the muscles and you can indicate the shock worked is by being sore after every workout. So I correlate sore with growing larger…am I wrong to assume this? Can someone explain this for me? Thanks.

BaWL: jesse’s right. man. No one knows what soreness really is or what it means vis-a-vis recovery. Muscles repair themselves whether you get sore or not. Poliquin recommends taking Vitamin C for increased recovery AND less soreness after workouts. My own experience backs this up. So where does that fit in with what you heard? I know it sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you’re young, but less can definitely be more. Try it and see.

First, congradulations on losing that 20lbs. I agree that you should try lowering your volume. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve with shorter, high intensity workouts. Check out the t-mag archieves. You’ll find several quality workouts and guidelines there. However, I can’t stress enough that you have to do what works best for you. No matter what the “experts” say, it all comes down to what gives you the best results. Good luck.

Being able to train this heavily for this long duration of time shows that you’ve got what it takes to suceed.
But do you need to spend so much time to get the results?
Well, being a bit overweight surely HELPS when you are training for so long, I know it did that for me.
But, what’s more important than reducing sets is to make sure your muscle groups will have enough time to recover after your training session.
Basicly, you could get away with training your whole body and focusing especially on the chest, as long as you remember to give your chest 4-5 days off and the other body parts 2-3 days minimum.
Ofcourse, there do exist people that recover very fuc*in’ quickly, and you might be one of them.
I agree with supersetting, it’s a method that basicly increases your training time usage, but it’s subject to the laws of periodic training like everything else.
But if you wake up in the middle of the night, all warm and strange, change your training, reduce the number of sets you are doing, focus more on the negative, and do the aerobics BEFORE your workout, because if you are really exorting yourself with the weights, it’s mighty important to be able to relax as quickly as you can afterwards and eat something.
And if you dont do your stretches, you’ll soon get into big trouble.