A lot of good points have been made in here. One thing that doesn’t get brought up in threads like these is adaptation.
You go in the gym, put in a 2+ hour workout and your body adapts over time. You make some gains, but then what? You have to find a way to get in more work. Get to a point where are moving real weight just adding weight to all you exercises in a 2+ hour workout is going to get very very difficult. Another option is to add exercises, now you are in the gym 2++ hours. So on and so on.
You can see this in the workout programs of the old school guys. Reg Park, Steve Reeves. Look at the stage 3s in their programs. A massive amount of work.
I know what you’re getting at and the old school guys are some of my favorites. I mean, if Steve Reeves in his prime walked into a bar today, panties would drop left, right, and center.
Yet we can’t ignore the law of diminishing returns. If 1 hour stops working, do we bump it up to 2? If 2 stops working, 3? When does it end…?
I suppose an advanced - I’ll repeat that - an ADVANCED lifter can cycle in longer workouts. I’m not convinced this is sustainable year round. Even if there is some aberration who can do such a thing, he’d better be independently wealthy; plus, he wouldn’t have much of a life. Can you imagine trying to have an interesting conversation with him…?
So what other options do we have?
Some suggestions include:
Shorter rest periods
Supersets or giant sets
Drop sets - standard or mechanical
The first five are self-explanatory. The last, technique, is something too many people dismiss.
For example, last night I hit the gym to work biceps. Lately, I’ve experienced predictable strength gains but hypertrophy stalled and I’ve been racking my brain to find a solution.
When I arrived, I noticed the Wednesday night regulars, including a fellow I call the marathon man. Every single time I’ve seen him, he’s already in there grinding away when I start and grinding away when I leave. I estimate his sessions last 2.5 to 3 hours. He looks decent but nothing special.
Anyway, I warmed up and did my heavy compound work as I normally do.
Afterward, I experimented with a principle that’s working wonders for my triceps. Unfortunately, this did nothing for the bi’s. I could tell I was just burning calories.
Now I’m pissed off because, although I hit a modest pr in the heavy compound, I knew as far as hypertrophy was concerned I was in status quo mode.
So I tried a variation on the Gironda Curl. Again, I wasn’t feeling it.
I then tried the concentration curl, done with the arm not resting against the leg. It took a while, but I discovered a small adjustment that made all the difference.
The warm up and heavy work took roughly 35-40 minutes.
Experimenting with the principle that helps my triceps, but not the bis, took about 15 minutes.
Experimenting with the variation on the Gironda curl took about 10 minutes.
Experimenting with and then finding a good adjustment on the concentraion curl, then performing the exercise with the new-found adjustment took 15 minutes.
All told, it was a satisfying workout that lasted about 90-95 minutes. And remember the time I spent just experimenting.
Next week, this workout will take 50-55 minutes.
If I want to substitute the concentration curl with another secondary movement, it’ll take about the same time, unless I feel like experimenting. I doubt I will because I’ve got two other secondary movements which I’m dialed into. So I should be productive for the next five weeks or so.
As I left, I saw the marathon man, grinding away.