T Nation

Maximising Volume Over Everything Else


#1

The seed for this idea came from Ben Bruno's 100-Rep-Trap Bar Workout* but I am not nearly advanced enough to know if it has value outside of it making sense in my head.

Basically, I've been tracking my total volume per session and have noticed that my trap bar deadlift has a ridiculously lopsided effect on the amount of weight lifted during any session it's included in. I may lift 5000kg (11,000lb) in one session and 3000kg (6,600lb) of that comes from trap bear deadlift sets that aren't really taxing^. On days when I'm not using the trap bar, my entire volume maxes out around 2500kg/5500lb.

So, here's the idea:

Trap Bar Deadlifts 5x10@100kg per session five days a week. This isn't a taxing weight, I've done workouts where I knock out sets of 20 with 100kg on the bar and don't feel it the next day, however, I thought I'd start light to be safe considering I'll be doing it a lot.

Outside of that, I'll alternate between compound movements, I was thinking dumbbell chest press since I've been doing straight bench forever and could do with a break from it, military press, landmine rows and chin ups. I wasn't going to do any squatting since the week will be so lower body intensive but I could probably throw in some goblet squats to keep mobility.

The logic behind it is that lifting 25,000kg/55,100lb a week will have a much larger effect on the physiology of muscle building (upregulating mTOR, blah blah blah) than simply sticking with heavier weights at a higher intensity that ultimately add up to significantly less total volume.

The goal is to get stronger and boost my BMR and adding a little lean mass is never a bad thing
(although I'm not looking for strict hypertrophy as I'm not eating a significant surplus, most days I'm in a slight deficit though I am keeping protein high).

Does this make sense? Or does it sound like a shortcut to sore knees and burnout?


#2

I’ve never heard of anyone tracking volume the way you have. You actually add up all the weight you have lifted in a session and multiply it by the number of sets? And you wonder why deadlifts have the most? Hard to know if you are actually serious.
Why would you bother counting sets that aren’t taxing? Warm up sets for example are never counted in programs. They are done for a reason to prevent injury and get the CNS going etc… but if you take 4 or 5 sets to get to your work sets the total amount of weight is irrelevant.

I think you need to read the article again. Trap bar deadlifts are done once per week and he even gives a template on intensity and volume to be used.

It would have been good if he gave a sample weekly split but you have to understand this isn’t for beginners so most people doing this already know how to set up their week. Ideally this would suit a one body part per week split . So a 3 or 4 way split would be ideal.

Like the article says this is for lifters who have banged up knees or lower backs and get even more banged up from heavy lifting.

If you wanted to give the trap bar volume idea a go I would do it as Ben Bruno set out. Depending on how many times a week you wanted to train I would probably do :
3 times per week - Legs, rest, push, rest, pull, rest, rest
4 times per week - Legs, chest/triceps, rest , back, shoulders/biceps, rest ,rest.

Edit: Just want to add that doing any more then 5 sets of the same exercise at the same weight is extremely boring. 10 sets of 10 is the most boring thing I’ve ever done in a gym.


#3

The absolute value you have calculated doesn’t matter much. Work is force x distance. The calculations above don’t take into account distance which makes it difficult to compare work done for different lifts. In addition, if you did take into account distance then the calculations still aren’t very accurate because you are calculating external work but not taking into account the efficiency of a lift.

One lifter may have a much lower efficiency compared to another lifter if they have a difference in muscle recruitment. It’s like comparing a high performance sports car to an economy car - the performance car generally utilizes more fuel. All this means is that comparing volume work between two different people usually isn’t very accurate.

This may still be useful when comparing relative values where most conditions are held constant, e.g., same lifts, same technique, etc - comparing your own work over a short period of time. If you want to learn firsthand, then continue doing what you’re doing and tracking results to see if there is some correlation with results.

If your goal is strength then maximizing volume is shortsighted. When building strength, it’s important to learn when and how to balance volume and intensity in order to build muscle and become efficient at lifting heavy weight with good technique. It isn’t that complicated since there are many programs out there that can achieve this. Technique and efficiency comes with practice and learning from mistakes.


#4

Louie Simmons calculates total volume the same way you do. It’s just another way to monitor and plan your progress.

But Westside dudes only do one quarter, or 25% of their total volume on the “big, barbell” lifts. So, for your 6000lbs, like 1500 pounds worth of squats and deadlifts. Then 1500 pounds for hamstrings, 1500 for glutes/low back, then 1500 for lats/upper back.

But those dudes also go out of their way to limit how much and how often they deadlift.

Deadlifting kinda light every day sounds like a Pavel routine. Maybe someone could recommend a particular Pavel article or program. I feel like deadlift/ press alternated with deadlift/ goblet squat really is one of his “animal” workouts.


#5

The whole point of calculating volume this way is to allow the economy car to lift with the sports car. If I were to do dynamic squat day with Neutron, we’d do the same reps and sets and exercises. The only difference would be the poundage on the lifts.


#6

I think this is an approach that is very useful for people that are very advanced and very strong who have to really consider the notion that the poundages they are pushing with their muscles have a recovery effect on their skeletal and other systems that requires more recovery than they immediately perceive.

For relative beginners and even up to the precipice of that advanced level, I think it is probably not only unproductive from a logging/programming standpoint but perhaps even detrimental insofar as it could lead the person to burn out from all the micromanaging.


#7

[quote]FlatsFarmer wrote:
The whole point of calculating volume this way is to allow the economy car to lift with the sports car. If I were to do dynamic squat day with Neutron, we’d do the same reps and sets and exercises. The only difference would be the poundage on the lifts. [/quote]

Yes that is true. Adjusting intensity to run a well thought out program that has been shown to work is a good way to start off.

That wasn’t what I was getting at though. The OP thinks that volume is the only variable that matters. I made that same mistake and thought super high volume would automatically generate gains. In some cases it does and some it doesn’t. I copied others that were stronger and kept turning to more volume but when hitting a wall, I found that other factors coming into play were just as important for strength.

That’s not to say that high volume isn’t important or can’t promote progress. There’s a balance between too much and too little and a trainee typically needs enough to continue pushing hard in order to force adaptation. People can handle high amounts but it needs to be programmed taking into account other aspect for progression. The only thing the OP plans to do is hit 5x10 for 5 days/week. The article he posted shows progression in volume and intensity but he’s only looking at one aspect of that program. He was specific in how much volume he wanted to use but had nothing to compare from.

IMO, there are better methods shown effective to reach his goal for strength. The program he posted is a better alternative for experimenting with.


#8

OP, I didn’t mean to completely destroy your idea. It’s understandable to think of ways to push the boundaries. Volume is only one piece of the puzzle. Sometimes we get tunnel vision looking at one detail and eventually get reminded of how it fits in the big picture.


#9

No, by all means destroy. If I thought I had all the answers I wouldn’t be here to ask the questions. I appreciated the feedback and will take it into consideration.


#10

[quote]Nate88 wrote:
The seed for this idea came from Ben Bruno’s 100-Rep-Trap Bar Workout* but I am not nearly advanced enough to know if it has value outside of it making sense in my head.

Basically, I’ve been tracking my total volume per session and have noticed that my trap bar deadlift has a ridiculously lopsided effect on the amount of weight lifted during any session it’s included in. I may lift 5000kg (11,000lb) in one session and 3000kg (6,600lb) of that comes from trap bear deadlift sets that aren’t really taxing^. On days when I’m not using the trap bar, my entire volume maxes out around 2500kg/5500lb.

So, here’s the idea:

Trap Bar Deadlifts 5x10@100kg per session five days a week. This isn’t a taxing weight, I’ve done workouts where I knock out sets of 20 with 100kg on the bar and don’t feel it the next day, however, I thought I’d start light to be safe considering I’ll be doing it a lot.

Outside of that, I’ll alternate between compound movements, I was thinking dumbbell chest press since I’ve been doing straight bench forever and could do with a break from it, military press, landmine rows and chin ups. I wasn’t going to do any squatting since the week will be so lower body intensive but I could probably throw in some goblet squats to keep mobility.

The logic behind it is that lifting 25,000kg/55,100lb a week will have a much larger effect on the physiology of muscle building (upregulating mTOR, blah blah blah) than simply sticking with heavier weights at a higher intensity that ultimately add up to significantly less total volume.

The goal is to get stronger and boost my BMR and adding a little lean mass is never a bad thing
(although I’m not looking for strict hypertrophy as I’m not eating a significant surplus, most days I’m in a slight deficit though I am keeping protein high).

Does this make sense? Or does it sound like a shortcut to sore knees and burnout?

There’s so many things here that lead me to doubt the effectiveness of your plan:

  1. You’re expecting to add significant lean mass in what you describe as a slight deficit
  2. There’s no plan of progression mentioned in your plan.
  3. You say you can do sets of 20 with 100kg easily, and yet you’re programming only 5 sets of 10. This seems way too easy to produce any real effect.
  4. As lift206 says, the way you’re calculating the volume of your workouts makes zero sense in the context. Even if it did, volume is not the only factor in muscle growth, otherwise advanced bodybuilders would spend 12 hours a day doing curls with a 2lb weight or the like.