T Nation

Too Much Volume??


Hey everyone! Just to make a quick introduction I'm a first year college kid who has been training about 2 years now. I spent a lot of my time as a kid playing Water Polo and most recently (and seriously) rowing Crew.

Now I don't profess any expertise in weightlifting/training however I've spend a good amount of time lurking on forums from the shadows so I have somewhat of a general idea of what a strength training program consists of. I've specifically looked into Starting Strength and Wendler's 5/3/1.

That being said I guess we're all here to learn some more so that's why I decided to finally sign up and ask some questions and get answers from those who've been moving big weights for quite some time. That being said, I was curious to know if my current routine had too much volume. It's my idea of a strength/hypertrophy hybrid program (Push, Pull, Legs) that I wanted to experiment with. Each workout starts with a "core" lift (Bench, Deadlift, Squat) for 5 sets of 5 reps and then is followed by compound movements of the same muscle group for 3x10-12 reps.

It goes as follows:

Bench 5x5
Incline DB Press
BB (Military) Press
Weighted Dips

Deadlift 5x5 (Varies from traditional, snatch grip, and snatch grip from a deficit)
Lat Pulldowns
Seated Cable Rows
Upright Rows

Squats 5x5
Calve Raises

Assistance (if any):
-Delt raises (lateral & rear)

Edit: I also forgot to mention that I do weighted core work at the end of each workout. Typically something like 3xAMRAP

Now my questions are:

1) Is this too much volume?
2) On my pull days should I stick to one grip on my deadlift and keep it that way?
3) Now while I am focused on building strength I do like the idea of 20 rep breathing squats. What are your thoughts on 1x20 vs. 5x5 squats?

Like I said before I'm fairly knew to this and I'm no expert. I'm just trying to learn as I gain experience so any insight or feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks guys hope see your contributions around the forum!


Breathing squats are sort of useless. They do not build strength and any endurance they build is only for the squat movement, as they take minutes to accomplish.

Why lat pulldowns instead of chin/pull-up and their weighted variants?


I'm a bigger fan of weighted wide-grip pullups and your favourite BB row variant for pulling, but do whatever type of pulling suits you best. One style of deadlift? I would keep use the same variant for all sets within one workout, but you can definitely alternate weekly, monthly, whatever.

After having tried a 5x5 type routine (like StrongLifts) and a 3x5 (I "borrowed" pretty heavily from Rip in my programming) earlier in my routine, my opinion is this:

5x5 works well to build your work capacity up early on, but I'm not so much of a fan for strength. Progression seems to stall much earlier, and I found I was consistently screwing up the last rep of the 4th and 5th sets, which limited me from pushing bigger weights. Doing 3x5 allowed me to move the weight up faster, which is what I want in a main lift. You can use your accessory stuff to hit your muscles harder if you need to. I'd say 5x5 is a good way for someone who's still in the first few months of newb gains to train.

I really didn't like doing 5x5 deadlifts, but 1x5 never felt like enough either. I guess find a happy medium. I'm starting to find that as I go on less is more with the deadlift, and I've met a lot of other people who think so too.

You may consider starting to learn how to power clean. That way, by the time you're good at it, you'll be far enough along for them to help you more.

I would also consider doing some hamstring assistance. RDLs, good mornings, and GHRs are all pretty great stuff.


Hmmm I see. I do lat pulldowns because I was given a very nice commercial grade one by my old neighbor when I helped him move. I workout in my garage. Probably should get a pull-up bar.


Awesome! Thanks for the advice. I was planning on going to a 3x5 after stalling twice with 5x5. In regard to powercleaning, I actually power clean pretty well, our S&C coach back in school was an o-lifter back in the day and was big on o-lifts. I'm looking into implementing them into my program in light of my access to bumpers in my garage not sure where to fit it in however.


Also, I heard squatting twice a week can be very beneficial to gains both in strength and size (depending on the repetition parameters of course). What do you guys think of squatting for 5x5 early on in the week and then 1x20 at the end of the week?


x2 on the hammies....SLDL keeping the tension on my hamstrings have really improved them....S/O Zraw!


Well, I'm squatting 1x20 breathing squats 2-3 times a week currently, and I did the same with 1x20 in the past (not breathing squat style). I got more out of these overall-size-gain-wise than the time I spent doing 5x5, but much of that could be tied to the fact that I wasn't eating enough when I did 5x5.

Comparing my measurements from before I started 1x20 squats to now, my thighs increased 2" and both calves increased 3/4" inch. These measurements were taken unflexed and unpumped. (And this is one of the reasons to keep a log.)

I don't think they're useless, but I'm not convinced they're as beneficial as the hype surrounding them. A few months from now I could give you a much better answer since I'm going to give them a fair chance.

In the end, I will say that one of the more important benefits I get from these is how well it trains your mental willpower and ability to keep pushing when everything else in your body says to stop. Just a generally good life-skill to have.

So... to answer your question. I think 5x5 part of the week and 1x20 sounds like a good idea, as long as you do keep forcing the weight up on both of them. You might get better results from one than the other, but if you keep progressing, and you keep eating, either will be good for you.


I love and recommend 20 rep Squats are great fir strength and especially size. Nothing is better in my opinion how ever I dont think they should be used week in week out. Once a month is plenty. Lately ai have been implementing something along these lines

Week 1- 330 for 3 sets of 3, 1 set all out
Week 2- 330 for 3 sets of 5, 1 set all out
Week 3- 330 for 3 sets of 8, 1 set all out
Week 4- up weight and start over or attempt 20 or more reps with as much as possible usually around 300ish.
Week 5- 350 for 3 sets of 3, 1 set all out

this has been working majorly for me just something to think about numerous way to set up and use both methods.