T Nation

Light Weight, Pump and High Reps for Naturals

I don’t know shit about bodybuilding, most of my training was based on powerlifting training, but recently I started to feel like I need and want to put more muscles and size, so I started to watch a lot of videos of David Tate and rich piana.
Both suggest that for hypertrophy light weight with perfect form are better. Piana also suggests to “train for the pump” because that’s what makes the muscle grow.
So I have been using light weight with high volume (50-100 reps total) and very short rest (30") between sets.
I’d like to get some input from you guys, is this beneficial for drug free lifters? Or should I just go heavy with the typical 3-4x8?

the same things that work for lifters who use drugs work for those who don’t. all the same basic principles of lifting apply. the results while on drugs are simply magnified. All natural bodybuilders rely on higher reps than 4-8 in their training, particularly for accessory movements.

Also, stop listening to Piana. There are probably literally THOUSANDS of better sources of information on lifting than him. Dave Tate is a good resource in general as well, but the dude is not a bodybuilder. I think the best resource for training right now is John Meadows. Read stuff from him.


For overall muscle for a natural guy, I would say your standard T-nation templates like 5/3/1 or Thib programs with a focus on heavier/performance based training on the main lifts are best, then last 20 mins dedicated to high rep bro-work/weak points etc.

Also regular guys/poor genetics will plateau faster so good to rotate through a few different strategies thoughout the year

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all of this applies to guys on gear. even the plateauing happens after a similar period of time, guys on gear just have a tendency to ‘take more’ when this happens. But the training effect is similar, and they could probably avoid taking more gear by doing what you’re suggesting instead.

I believe a lot of people are confused about the pump. A pump will be achieved naturally when you effectively activate and utilize the target muscle(s) during an exercise. The rep range is immaterial and is more dependant on:

  1. The muscle you are training. You are not going to be able to effectively utilize muscles like your side delts with a 6RM weight(or even an 8RM weight for less experienced people). That’s why you do higher reps. You can, however, do this with exercises like dumbbell presses.

  2. You don’t really don’t want to use a 6RM weight for an exercise like side raises or I foresee impending shoulder problems.

  3. Going too heavy with low reps all the time for every compound exercise can gradually lead to joint and tendon issues.

If you don’t believe me, here is part of a leg workout from an actual John Meadows program that you have to purchase:

Leg press – Do a few feeder sets to get to a sold weight and then knock out 3 sets of 8 increasing the weight as you go. I want you to use a 3 second decent on these. Lower the weight counting to three then drive it up. Do not lockout. I want constant tension and an insane pump. Take plenty of rest between sets. Use a stance you are strong in. 3 total work sets.

For example:

4 plates a side x 6 (feeder set)
5 plates a side x 6 (feeder set)
6 plates a side x 8 (work set)
7 plates a side x 8 (work set)
8 plates a side x 8 (work set)

Goal – Supramax pump

Notice a lot of his clients are roided bodybuilders?


Think about this. The fitness market is pretty competitive.

How big is the fitness market? What percentage of the fitness market is using drugs?

If someone wants to make money writing programs, articles or training people online, do you think he’s going to only write things that work for drug users?


He’s in good company Arnold recommends the same thing.

Interesting, I’m not that knowledgable but yeah i can see that happening. Seems like a lot more young guys here and on tha instagramz on pretty serious cycles with the “up the Tren” mentality yet all things considered have pretty pathetic strength levels and couldnt even touch an80s bodybuilder in terms of rough overall size

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When it comes to size, this would be a problem with diet, e,g, not consuming enough calories, not the training. It’s the same with naturals. Don’t we see this here all the time?


I was always under the impression that the same programs work for natural dudes, just at a much slower rate. People bash “bro splits,” but they do work. Just not as efficiently as doing something twice a week for a natural. So the results someone on gear might achieve in a year, it would take a natural a few years to see. Is that on par somewhat @flipcollar ?

yea pretty much. plus gear raises the ceiling for development, obviously.

I think baseball really fucked with the public’s general conception of steroid use. Baseball players wanted us to believe that PED’s didn’t do the things that PED’s do. And it seemed more palatable to say ‘all I wanted to do was recover faster from injuries and workouts, and steroids just do that. They increase recovery and let you work harder, and that’s it.’ And this got pounded into our heads for awhile.

Steroids don’t do that, at least not to the extent it’s been described. I, personally cannot train any more frequently, or longer, on gear than I could/did naturally. What DOES happen is that those same workouts produce better results over a period of time. I also have more leeway with diet on steroids. I can eat a lot of junk and see results. Naturals have to be stricter with diet IMO.


I think some things like shorter, lower volume, higher frequency training works a little better for natural guys than what you see larger, assisted, genetic elite bodybuilders do, but the differences are marginal. Are you going to compete? If not, quit worrying about the other 2% of optimization. Train hard, eat well, don’t do stupid things that are going to get you hurt and make sure your training is making your regular life BETTER, that’s your 98%. Outside of that, do what you like how you like and quit fretting over optimization of the last 2%.


exercise reps * weight lifted = (mass + strength) / years lifting

Compound movements allow for the most weight to be moved giving you the biggest bang for your time invested.

My 2 Cents from personal experience and every person I have ever seen in the gym for years on end:

Your body has a blue print that it wants to adhere to thanks to millions of years of evolution and changing that blue print is difficult at best even with drugs.

This makes me think that isolation work and pump work are near worthless when mass/strength is concerned outside of maintaining a balance to keep you healthy which in turn means more weight moved.

“but, but, but all those top level body builders and physique models do this and that”

  1. Enhanced means that anything they do works to a point and
  2. those huge body builders are spending several hours a day in the gym.

As a natural one doesn’t apply and two isn’t an option.

I’m going to say this for the record.

Some smartass author is going to write an article with lots of “science” one day in the not-so-distant future that will go something like:

Science proves only light “pump work” works on naturals when training for hypertrophy. Leave the heavy weights to the dumb drugged up bodybuilders who win Olympias in spite of what they do. And to get the best bang for your buck, one need only pump up one’s calves since hypertrophy is systemic.

You read it here first.


Dude, your posts are about glute pain, eating too much meat, training light, and abandoning the squat. Are you sure that you really like this lifestyle?

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