I have been reading bodybuilding literature and training for 12 years. Actually only the last 4 were truly hardcore years.
From my experience and from what I have gathered from quite a few experienced strength training writers, such as Dante Trudel, Ian King, Alwyn Cosgrove, Jason Ferruggia, Skip La Cour, and Dorian Yates, 22 sets is a large amount of volume for one workout for intermediate and advanced trainers.
I can’t really see the point for an intermediate to advanced person to perform more than 2 sets per exercise if training for bodybuilding.
As Alwyn Cosgrove and Ian King have pointed out, if you could use the same load for 3 sets or more with a constant number of reps, it is unlikely that you were training to your maximum (near or to failure)in the first and second set. Most people cannot duplicate sets like that on big exercises when they get to a certain strength level.
If you could squat 405 near or to failure for anywhere from 6 to 10 reps, could you really duplicate this number of reps for a second, third, and fourth set? I know I can’t do it for any exercise that requires a respectable amount of weight.
Therefore, I never do more than 2 sets per exercise, and most likely after a certain strength level will resort to doing 1 set per exercise, just like the way Dorian, Skip, and others have.
This past training year has been my most productive yet with adequate nutrition, lifestyle, and lifting. My longest workout is a total of 16 sets. I am a fan of quality over quantity. I have actually been using the same routine, with a few minor adjustments, for the past year and do not see any signs of going backwards.
I train balls to the wall for 5 to 6 weeks and then “deload” for 1 to 2 weeks. My deloading simply entails stopping 1 or 2 reps short of failure. I take a week off for every 12 weeks of training.
My training is as follows:
2 sets of 6 to 10 reps (rep range that works best for me at the moment)
Chest (pre-exhaust) (8 sets), bis (6 sets)
Incline DB press
Flat DB press
Incline hammer curls
Preacher machine curls
Calves (4 sets), hams (6 sets) (pre-exhaust), quads (6 sets)
Seated calf raises
High and wide foot placement leg press
Single standing leg curls
Shoulders (6 sets), traps (2 sets) tris (6 sets)
DB overhead press
Seated lateral raises
Cable lateral raises
Close grip bench press
1/4 triceps dips
DB lying triceps extensions
Lats/upper back (pre-exhaust)(8 sets), rear delts (4 sets), “pillars” (2 sets)
Straight arm pulldowns
Rear delt DB raises
I have experienced more success with this routine than any others I have used in the past. As stated above, this has been used for the past year and half and I do not see any reason to change things as of now.
To the OP. How many days of training per week do you do? How many reps? What is your overall split like? How often do you train each bodypart.
How often you train a bodypart dictates how much volume you should be doing. Also whether you train to or near failure dictates how many sets you can do. [/quote]