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Volume Recommendations for Abs and Calves

Hey Paul

Do you use the ‘one all out set to failure’ method with smaller muscle groups, like abs and calves, or do these benefit from multiple sets? How many total failure sets would you recommend for each of these muscle groups?

Having great success with the lower volume approach - thanks for all the content you put out.

I haven’t trained abs in years and years. Total waste of time to me.

For calves I recommend the same, except that the frequency be higher since you walk on them all day. 3 times a week seems to be about right. With 1-2 movements for 1-2 sets to failure each.

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Why haven’t you trained abs in years?

Understood, thank you. And how do you determine whether to perform a particular exercise for 1 set or for 2 sets? Are there any considerations or criteria which guide your decision?

You count top sets as your main sets.

Easy set, moderate set, hard set and failure set.

So last two sets are your working sets. Sometimes the hard set is sufficient especially if you fail. So youre ramping up difficulty level.

So with training to failure exercise selection becomes even more important. So two best calf exercises are donkey calf raises and the single leg calf raise.

Thanks buddy - I’m clear on how the sets are counted. My question for Paul was whether he has any general guidelines by which to determine whether to perform 1 set or instead 2 sets for a particular movement. @Paul_Carter, any thoughts?

No. It’s a “in the moment” thing in the gym.

Sometimes I do a second set, and sometimes I don’t.

Gotcha. Thanks - appreciate you taking the time to respond. Just a couple questions:

  1. How do you track progress on an exercise from one session to the next and continue to “beat the training log” when number of sets does not (necessarily) stay consistent?

  2. Is 1 set perhaps the default, with 2 sets being reserved for exceptional days where things feel particularly in the groove?

  1. It’s usually consistent. The one big set. Sometimes I will do 2. And I have I know what rep and loading I need to beat for it. Because I log my training.

  2. Not always. There’s no way for me to give you an answer on this. It’s something I do after 30 years of training intuitively.

I had good results training them EOD, one straight leg exercises, then the next workout bent knee exercises. On the seated calf raise I’d just rest pause 50 reps. Sometimes it took 3-4 mini sets. Sore AF.

Hi Paul

Just circling back to this. Is there any reason to avoid varying the number of sets performed for a given exercise from week to week, e.g. occasionally doing an extra set for an exercise based on an ‘in the moment’ decision in the gym? Equally, is there any benefit?

Thanks very much

I actually made a little progress last year doing this,

Every day id do one hell set. But I would rotate between bent knee and straight knee.

Like seated calves. Pick a weight that is a hard 15 reps. Rest pause that until you get 25+

Standing or leg press calves: go heavier, rest pause until you get 15+

I’d take a day off or so went the bottom of my feet got sore.

Pause at bottom and top.

Bit random but the best my calves ever looked was when I was regularly doing a bit of hill-walking 1-2 times a week on top of my usual training.

Where I live is a popular route for cycling enthusiasts and I’ve seen the same thing in them - some of these guys and girls have insane calf development.

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I’ve been doing stair sprints and noticing the same thing.