T Nation

Volume -vs- Physical Development

Currently reading through Arnie’s Encyclopedia to Modern Bodybuilding and one aspect that seems to stand out kinda in the dark is the emphasis on much higher volume training and success with these types of training. For example Arnold states at one point doing 30 sets for shoulders alone.

This got me thinking about volume versus the stage of physical development of the individual. For those of you with more experience (in excess of 2 years) in bodybuilding either recreationally or professionally, do you find utilising more volume in your workouts yields greater results in obtaining growth in particular areas?

I’m talking set ranges that are around 20 minimum for larger muscles (chest, back, legs) and minimum 15 for smaller muscles (delts, bi’s and tri’s).

Interested in hearing the input/opinions of others. Would also like to hear from those who have been training for longer periods too, using less volume.

Look, anytime you do that much volume you’re leaning towards endurance/conditioning training rather than strength training.

Look at endurance athlete musculature compared to strength athletes’.

Bottom line is that you can go “long” or “heavy”, but not both.

That being said I think beginners do need more volume (in terms of sets and reps). To me more volume means adding a couple of extra reps and sets to the entire routine.

So if an intermediate only needed 2 sets of 4-6 to grow (ignoring warmup/ramp up sets), then a beginning could probably benefit from 2-3 sets of 6-8.

Of course this isn’t written in stone, its just to illustrate that “more volume” doesn’t mean 20+ sets of balls to the wall effort (meaning excluding warmup/ramp up sets).

A few things to consider-

1- Arnold used a ton of steroids, this obviously helped him deal with a level of volume that would kill a normal trainee.

2- Volume training can work for a while, but the body will get accustomed to it eventually, and backing off will allow for a better recovery (why so many folks switch to low volume training after a few years, and notice ‘sudden’ gains’, they’re able to recovery for a change.)

3- According to Bill Pearl (the guy knew a thing or two about training), the more experienced lifter can handle more volume, and should make use of it.

4- I mentioned this on another thread, but because a few folks have commented on my own level of volume lately, the number of sets I currently make use of, is due to the accumulation of INJURIES that make me a little wary of constantly banging the heaviest damn weights I can for 6 reps and 2 sets each anymore. I would not have someone with healthy joints pounding away with set after set in the gym for hours on end, it will only build endurance.

S

I love high volume workouts, been doing them for a long time.

Over the years the workload has had to become greater and greater in order to have continued growth. Now obviously there are many ways to increase the workload but higher volume works great for me.

Interesting post Protoculture. In my mind, A more advanced athlete needs to do more to keep improving, not the other way around.

I don’t think thats necessarily a bad approach or one that would lead to overtraining. Large amounts of AS would also not necessarily be required. If you do 30 sets for shoulders that does not mean you squeezed your guts out and came to a near CNS failure on every set. Volume does work for alot of people. You can see Arnold Pumping his 21 inch arms with 60lb dumbells and it looks like was working hard to move them. I see guys with 17.5 inch arms use more weight for more reps. Clearly going the strength route is not the answer for everyone.

Some people respond to high volume, moderate weights and a variety of pulling angles.

Another good example is a brick layer. A brick layer will do an equivalent of thousands of reps daily. That will translate into ultra high volume. But never does he go close to failure and the loads lifted individually are light to moderate. Yet they can develop very significant arms size from the volume alone.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
A few things to consider-

1- Arnold used a ton of steroids, this obviously helped him deal with a level of volume that would kill a normal trainee.

2- Volume training can work for a while, but the body will get accustomed to it eventually, and backing off will allow for a better recovery (why so many folks switch to low volume training after a few years, and notice ‘sudden’ gains’, they’re able to recovery for a change.)

3- According to Bill Pearl (the guy knew a thing or two about training), the more experienced lifter can handle more volume, and should make use of it.

4- I mentioned this on another thread, but because a few folks have commented on my own level of volume lately, the number of sets I currently make use of, is due to the accumulation of INJURIES that make me a little wary of constantly banging the heaviest damn weights I can for 6 reps and 2 sets each anymore. I would not have someone with healthy joints pounding away with set after set in the gym for hours on end, it will only build endurance.

S
[/quote]

Good post.

If you’re waylander’s long lost brother, triple your volume and get twice as big as you were before.

If you’re like most other people, triple your volume and you’ll get hopelessly stuck. :wink: