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FerrousMaverick

The New Approach To Training Volume

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Nathan Jones posted a pretty interesting article relating to training volume and hypertrophy:

 

http://www.strengtheory.com/the-new-approach-to-training-volume/

 

A couple controversial points:

  • Challenges the notion of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy
  • Suggests that Supertraining is not scientific literature (as good as it is, it isn't scientific literature)

Still a good topic of discussion.  What do you all think?

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Interesting stuff.  My eyes glaze over when I read about different muscle fiber types and contractile proteins and such; I'm much more interested in the practical takeaways, and this article had plenty of those.

 

I liked reading that lower-rep sets can stimulate hypertrophy just as well as higher-rep sets.  As a general matter, I hate high-rep sets (anything above 12 usually feels like torture), but I do them to grow bigger muscles.  Nice to know that may not be necessary.

 

I'm a little confused about the idea that the number of hard sets matters more for hypertrophy than total number of reps.  I mean, are 10 heavy singles really better at stimulating muscle growth than 5 hard sets of 10?  If so, this would probably be good news for me, because heavy singles are much more fun than rep work.

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I haven't read this particular article (yet?), but I have read in a few different places that you can get good hypertrophy from shorter sets if you keep rests as short as possible.  So maybe it's more a function of intensity/volume over a period of time, which may usually favour longer sets over shorter ones if you're taking 5 minute breaks between sets in both scenarios.

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As a general matter, I hate high-rep sets (anything above 12 usually feels like torture), but I do them to grow bigger muscles.  Nice to know that may not be necessary.

 

. . .

 

I mean, are 10 heavy singles really better at stimulating muscle growth than 5 hard sets of 10?  If so, this would probably be good news for me, because heavy singles are much more fun than rep work.

 

+1

 

I think this concept makes sense intuitively because you see plenty of oly lifters with plenty of mass on them. They're lifting tons of volume according to this article's approach. That said I think this approach only makes sense to compound lifts. You're not going to do dozens of singles on the leg ext.

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If done right this could work. Working in the lower rep ranges obviously allows you to work much heavier, and the rest in between sets of a double or triple is much less than a set of 5+.

So conceivably, you could do a 12x2 workout instead of a 5x5, and have the volume be the same (in terms of reps performed) but the average intensity be much higher. And because the weight is heavier, the total volume will be higher in the end as well.

This would lose its potency if the rest is very long between sets, but it really shouldn't be. It's pretty easy to recover from a double for your next set.

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^^  Makes sense.  In one of the studies cited in the article (Alcaraz, 2011), the variable was rest time between sets (30 sec. vs. 3 min.), but the strength and hypertrophy outcomes were the same in both groups.  Suggests that maybe rest time doesn't matter very much, except for muscular endurance.  So if you have unlimited time in the gym, you can do a million heavy singles or doubles, rest as much as you need do, and experience infinite gainz.:)

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and so, having read this, I say fuck any set with greater than 8 reps lol

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and so, having read this, I say fuck any set with greater than 8 reps lol

8? Half it, then divide by 2... Lol

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Scan read the article and agree with what I saw.

Rep range and intensity is pretty much down to preference rather than x reps = strength x reps = bodybuilding. (Within reason obviously)

I'd say their are slight differences in the physiques but that might just be down to the old fact that people are attracted to the sport they're naturally good at.

A 6'9" long armed, bucket handed strongman is unlikely to succeed in bodybuilding. A 5'4" short compact bodybuilder is unlikely to do well in strongman.

So naturally at any given comp for those sports you'll find a common theme in the physiques on display. Not because the training makes them look different but because they naturally gravitate to the sport that suits them.

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I think the biggest thing if I read it right, was the fatigue inducing reps.  As in the fatigue itself is what causes the signal to grow, which is why restricting blood flow as you work certain muscles signals them to grow with less intensity than if you worked them without constricting blood flow.  Don't everyone run out and get tourniquets BTW.

 

Still interesting to see science get behind some of this.

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I tried to read the article with care, but didn't find it conclusive with doing lower reps for as good or better hypertrophy than higher reps. Then I went through the comments and found this from Greg:

Essentially, you’d expect 1 [set] to be a whole lot better than 0 (obviously). You’d expect 3 to be noticeably better than 1. You’d expect 7 to be better than 3, but not to a huge degree.

Also, if you look at *most* of the studies Nathan cited, the “heavy” group was 5-8ish reps and the “light” groups usually didn’t go more than 30ish reps (except for a couple with elderly people). If I had to make an semi-educated guess, I think this idea of “more hard sets=more hypertrophy, regardless of intensity/volume” probably is MOST applicable for sets of 5ish-30ish, trailing off with really heavy or really light weights at least for trained subjects. i.e. I think you can still grow from 3 hard triples, but not quite as much as 3 hard sets of 8 (and that 3 triples would probably be better than 3 singles for hypertrophy), and I don’t think you’ll grow as much from 3 sets of 100 as you would from 3 sets of 8. So you MAY need a few more sets of 3 to get the same growth as 3 sets of 10.

At least, based on my experience, that’s how I’d nuance this concept a bit.

That sort of sums up the questions I had after reading the article.

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I'd be interested to know what impact y'all think this research has on the AFP. Seems to be suggesting that 3 x 5 and 3 x 3 sets are not as good as 5 x 5 or 5 x 3. 

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 @GanymedeAre you referring to the Avarage F'n Program? If so i would say just continue using it as it does not really matter if you do 5x5, or 3x5 as long as you are progressing. When you are progressing you are also getting stronger which is the main goal of strength training. Do not overcomplicate things.

Theres a good saying for this:

"An average training program done with intensity and effort will always lead to more results than the best program done half assed." -Christian Thibaudeu

 

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Interesting stuff. Obviously, getting the proper volume of work is critical to growth. 3 sets can be fine depending upon what your goals are for that day, such as budgeting your gym time to train multiple bodyparts. How often you plan on training the bodypart in the week can also be a significant in determining set totals for each session. Addressing another discussion point, muscular conditioning certainly plays a role in determining how well you are going to respond to what one would call "medium effort sets". If one is already well conditioned, one will need to work closer to his or her PRs (5RM, 10RM, etc.) in order to advance muscular conditioning. Which means medium effort sets on a consistent basis will not work for the advanced athlete and will lead to deconditioning.

  

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