High volume training on steroids

Different strength training authors from Ellington Darden and Mike Mentzer to Dorian Yates and Gordon LaVelle have called their system HIT, with each individual having credited Arthur Jones for the formulation of its basic tenet principles. However, there has never been a clear and consistent guideline on how to utilize HIT. Darden advocated full body routines, while Yates recommended to split the workouts into four different sessions a week. Mentzer believed that no more than one set to muscular failure per body part was all that was required, [5] yet Yates and LaVelle believed that more than one exercise per body part is necessary to get complete development as a bodybuilder.

The first problem with that is that this approach doesn’t allow for enough progression. Let’s say 16 sets per week is your MAV for a certain bodypart. You hit 16 sets in the first week and get GREAT gains! Ok, now what? If you do 16 again next week, that’s no longer your MAV, so you have to go up. If your new MAV is 18 sets, you’re only going to be able to hit maybe a week or two more before you run straight into your MRV and can’t go any further. You’ll need to deload to drop fatigue and thus your accumulation:deload ratio is going to be quite low… you could have gotten more quality training in had you started below 16 sets. And in fact, because you might be doing rep ranges or exercises you’re not used to, your growth response may be higher than you thought per set, so your actual MAV might be less than 16 sets at the beginning of a mesocycle. On the other hand, if you start at 12 sets and reach 16 sets and just stop and deload, not only do you have a shortened mesocycle but you also miss out on the benefits of functional overreaching from approaching or just passing your MRV in the last accumulation week before your deload. However you slice it, it seems that to give your body the quality time and repeated overload stimulus needed to grow best, starting at the low end and ending at the high end of your MAV range is best. How do you do that? Well, you just find your MEV, find your MRV, and run most of your mesocycles between the two! So if your MEV is 12 sets and your MRV is 20 sets per week, you might run a mesocycle that looks something like this:

The popularization of this hard/easy concept is widely attributed to Oregon coach Bill Bowerman. It’s hard to appreciate the idea now as it is practically a law, but if you look at training before the 1950’s and 60’s, it largely consisted of similar training intensities day after day. There were off days here and there, and some days were easier, but for the most part there was no systematic planning of easier days. For the interval trained athlete this meant 4-5 days in a row of similar intensity interval training before a break.
Bowerman and others also improved on the concept of interval training. Stampfl and others such as German coach Bertl Sumner had emphasized the importance of starting intervals slow and progressing them. Bowerman took this idea and popularized the method of date pace and goal pace, or in other words working towards your specific race of this led to what I’d say was the first “modern” training programs in the 1970’s. You began to see high mileage running with 2-3 days of intense interval training.

Thanks so much for your quick response. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with your web page. Your page is the most comprehensive yet concise resource for fitness with the latest scientific information. I have changed my routine based on your recommendations for the last two weeks and already feel like a new person. I have so much more energy in my day to day life from not spending hours upon hours in the gym every week. My strength gains in the last two weeks are better than what I've gained in the last year. I'm not exaggerating. I feel like I need to tell everyone who is wasting away in the gym how to workout based on a scientifically proven method.

I played around half-assedly with this idea a year or so back. After reading your article I’m giving it an honest shot. I’m three weeks in, working out twice a week about 45 minutes each session. And I like it. Now, I am adding a twist to it. A twist that has no other merit to it (to my knowledge, that’s why I’m asking you) than that it feels “good”. I came across this page advocating “eccentric isometrics” (couldn’t figure out how to add the link in the comment, can provide it if you want it), basically a slow eccentric phase, a couple of second long static hold at the bottom, then a strong, determined, explosive contraction. My feeling is that it works well for some exercises (squats, DL’s, presses). Perhaps even better that just the slow eccentric followed by slow concentric movement. If you have an opinion, I would be very interested in knowing it. Thoughts or experiences?

High volume training on steroids

high volume training on steroids

Thanks so much for your quick response. I cannot tell you how impressed I am with your web page. Your page is the most comprehensive yet concise resource for fitness with the latest scientific information. I have changed my routine based on your recommendations for the last two weeks and already feel like a new person. I have so much more energy in my day to day life from not spending hours upon hours in the gym every week. My strength gains in the last two weeks are better than what I've gained in the last year. I'm not exaggerating. I feel like I need to tell everyone who is wasting away in the gym how to workout based on a scientifically proven method.

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