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  1. #1
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    Low volume = thoughts?

    Recently i've been reading up on an apparent trend in fitness, inspired a bit from advocates of low volume style routines. It's a method that basically involves one warm up set with the lightest weight possible, typically just the bar or handles and you rep it out pretty high - and then weight is added on to a person's rep max, and then they take that set to failure, or as close as they can. Does this really work? 1 warm up set 1 working set to failure per exercise, like is there really something to it? When I was first starting out, all i'd hear was you needed mid to high volumes when you're a beginner and working on your foundation, but seeing physiques like Mike Mentzer back in the day, it was really impressive how he ended up looking, all proportionate, big, and full. I like the idea that a typical low volume routine would also be quite short in duration as well. What do you all think?
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    It might work, especially if you do it more often. So it still comes down to volume over time on way or another.

    'Trends' seems to be more like a pendulum swinging this way and that. Middle of the road approaches are usually nearer the true optimal IMO.
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    Originally Posted by TheShadowMan View Post
    Recently i've been reading up on an apparent trend in fitness, inspired a bit from advocates of low volume style routines. It's a method that basically involves one warm up set with the lightest weight possible, typically just the bar or handles and you rep it out pretty high - and then weight is added on to a person's rep max, and then they take that set to failure, or as close as they can. Does this really work? 1 warm up set 1 working set to failure per exercise, like is there really something to it? When I was first starting out, all i'd hear was you needed mid to high volumes when you're a beginner and working on your foundation, but seeing physiques like Mike Mentzer back in the day, it was really impressive how he ended up looking, all proportionate, big, and full. I like the idea that a typical low volume routine would also be quite short in duration as well. What do you all think?
    It certainly does work because at the end of the day, 1 set to failure is always going to be better than 10 sets with 5 reps left in reserve on each set (aka junk volume). However, it has been proven that multiple sets (taken close to failure) produces more growth than 1 set with diminishing returns accompanying each set after. So this means you want to maximize the amount of sets you do in a session for a muscle. I'd argue and say that going to task failure leaving about 1 rep in the tank is better than going to complete failure as that last last rep isn't worth doing every set for safety reasons and also due to CNS fatigue.

    There's two things to consider when it comes to volume. Volume done in a session, and weekly volume. You want to maximize the effective volume done in a session to maximize protein synthesis and also maximize weekly volume to where you can still recover from it. This way more of the weight gainded on a bulk will be muscle as opposed to more fat. Effective volume is all volume done using loads of 80-85%+ or sets taken close to failure with lighter loads. You may see total tonnage as volume as well. This isn't a very good indicator because it doesn't take into account the intensity and proximity to failure. I can bench 100lbs 100x throughout the whole day and end up with 10,000lbs of total tonnage benched. Is that going to be effective? No it won't.

    Some people swear by warm up sets, I personally don't. My first working set is my warm up. I've never had any issues doing it this way. I just do some dynamic stretches beforehand.
    Last edited by Animal2692; 03-26-2020 at 05:45 AM.
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    You should be able to build muscle that way, but doesn't sound like it'd be as effective as a program with more volume (but a sensible amount).

    But some things work better for certain people, so you can always give it a try and see how it compares with whatever you currently do.
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    Another option I like is 2 working sets 1-2 reps short of failure. You still see some of the benefits shown with multiple sets but don’t go too far into the diminishing returns. Also, I always do warm-up sets on my first couple exercises so I figure if you spend the time getting to that working set you might as well do two to make it worth the time.
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    Sounds like a good way to get stronger but maybe not ideal for hypertrophy.
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    Another thing to consider is that training to failure can cause a couple of problems:
    - premature overreaching - because of the disproportionately large amount of fatigue induced. So in the long term, it will produce inferior results in those who it affects.
    - danger in certain exercises - most notably squats and deadlifts. Form slippage caused by genuinely reaching failure can easily cause an injury

    It's never simple. There is never "one true way". If you think there is, you are being naive.
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    It works. I saw a kid that was forced to push a wheel all day, and he grew up to be huge. It was in a movie called Conan the Barbarian.
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    Registered User Animal2692's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    Another thing to consider is that training to failure can cause a couple of problems:
    - premature overreaching - because of the disproportionately large amount of fatigue induced. So in the long term, it will produce inferior results in those who it affects.
    - danger in certain exercises - most notably squats and deadlifts. Form slippage caused by genuinely reaching failure can easily cause an injury

    It's never simple. There is never "one true way". If you think there is, you are being naive.
    Good point.

    Please also clarify that this doesn't mean to leave a whole bunch of reps in reserve every set either. Seeing quite a bit of people everywhere trying to get around that these days as well. Never heard of anyone getting jacked in their comfort zone.

    I'd say there is a paradox with there never being one true way in my opinion and that's that the one true way is the way that gives room for wisdom. That's just me, I have a problem when people tell me there is no one way only because to me that just means you're straight up doomed.
    Last edited by Animal2692; 03-26-2020 at 10:11 AM.
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  10. #10
    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by paulinkansas View Post
    It works. I saw a kid that was forced to push a wheel all day, and he grew up to be huge. It was in a movie called Conan the Barbarian.
    . That sounds a terrible program, the ratio of push to pull is off, was it a pay program from this site? Rotator cuff snap-city. Don't think that kid will ever have amounted to much
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  11. #11
    Registered User Animal2692's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by paulinkansas View Post
    It works. I saw a kid that was forced to push a wheel all day, and he grew up to be huge. It was in a movie called Conan the Barbarian.
    Getting people jacked pushing one wheel at a time.
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  12. #12
    REMAIN INDOORS SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Good point.

    Please also clarify that this doesn't mean to leave a whole bunch of reps in reserve every set either. Seeing quite a bit of people everywhere trying to get around that these days as well. Never heard of anyone getting jacked in their comfort zone.

    I'd say there is a paradox with there never being one true way in my opinion and that's that the one true way is the way that gives room for wisdom. That's just me, I have a problem when people tell me there is no one way only because to me that just means you're straight up doomed.
    I don't know how you tell what RPE people are using. Just speaking from my own experience, I find it hard to believe that anyone serious would leave (say) 5 reps in the tank. Most people want to experience some difficulty before ending the set.

    I can tell when I've done an RPE 8, 9 or 10. Anything less feels like guessing.

    Velocity based routines are interesting because the device tells you when to end a set based on bar speed. People report that it doesn't feel like you've done enough but those people seem to do pretty well using this approach.

    The problem is that most people think about these quantities in linear terms but the dose/response of exertion is not linear IMO. If you want to geek out, it would be more like a tanh() shape (shifted right of course)
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    . That sounds a terrible program, the ratio of push to pull is off, was it a pay program from this site? Rotator cuff snap-city. Don't think that kid will ever have amounted to much
    but he did have a great inner chest region
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    Registered User TheShadowMan's Avatar
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    Isn't failure a guarantee of eliciting a response from the body, beyond the uncertainty you might have if following a number of reps in a set and stopping there automatically? Like if i'm doing a set of 8-12 on an exercise, sometimes it just doesn't really work. Whereas when I go to failure, I always get the same exhaustion each set performed. And if you're only doing one set with such a demand on the cns, recovery should allow for ongoing 1 set to failure routines to be sustainable long term?
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    Originally Posted by TheShadowMan View Post
    Isn't failure a guarantee of eliciting a response from the body, beyond the uncertainty you might have if following a number of reps in a set and stopping there automatically? Like if i'm doing a set of 8-12 on an exercise, sometimes it just doesn't really work. Whereas when I go to failure, I always get the same exhaustion each set performed. And if you're only doing one set with such a demand on the cns, recovery should allow for ongoing 1 set to failure routines to be sustainable long term?
    Yes it probably is, in the acute sense - i.e. you will get more out of that single set than a single taken to RPE 9 or less. BUT when you factor in what I mentioned about fatigue and injury risk, over the long term it can become more of a liability than a help. And I haven't even addressed the idea that subsequent sets will be adversely impacted.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    It certainly does work because at the end of the day, 1 set to failure is always going to be better than 10 sets with 5 reps left in reserve on each set (aka junk volume). However, it has been proven that multiple sets (taken close to failure) produces more growth than 1 set with diminishing returns accompanying each set after. So this means you want to maximize the amount of sets you do in a session for a muscle. I'd argue and say that going to task failure leaving about 1 rep in the tank is better than going to complete failure as that last last rep isn't worth doing every set for safety reasons and also due to CNS fatigue.

    There's two things to consider when it comes to volume. Volume done in a session, and weekly volume. You want to maximize the effective volume done in a session to maximize protein synthesis and also maximize weekly volume to where you can still recover from it. This way more of the weight gainded on a bulk will be muscle as opposed to more fat. Effective volume is all volume done using loads of 80-85%+ or sets taken close to failure with lighter loads. You may see total tonnage as volume as well. This isn't a very good indicator because it doesn't take into account the intensity and proximity to failure. I can bench 100lbs 100x throughout the whole day and end up with 10,000lbs of total tonnage benched. Is that going to be effective? No it won't.

    Some people swear by warm up sets, I personally don't. My first working set is my warm up. I've never had any issues doing it this way. I just do some dynamic stretches beforehand.
    Abstract

    The aim of the study was to review studies concerning single-set and multiple-set resistance training. Twenty-six articles were found, 19 randomized controlled trials and seven studies without randomization process. Out of the 26 articles, 11 showed similar increases in strength when comparing number of sets, mostly one set compared with three sets. Eight of the articles showed a greater increase when training with multiple sets. In four of the articles, the comparison was made between single-set training programmes, multiple-set programmes and periodized multiple-set programmes, showing superior results with periodized training. None of the articles reported superior strength gain in the single-set training group. There was no difference in outcome when comparing articles with trained subjects to articles with untrained subjects. It seems that in order to be physically active and staying fit, the use of single-set training is sufficient. However, to gain the greatest possible strength, the use of multiple-set training seems to be appropriate. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/...38190701554277
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    Originally Posted by TheShadowMan View Post
    Recently i've been reading up on an apparent trend in fitness, inspired a bit from advocates of low volume style routines. It's a method that basically involves one warm up set with the lightest weight possible, typically just the bar or handles and you rep it out pretty high - and then weight is added on to a person's rep max, and then they take that set to failure, or as close as they can. Does this really work? 1 warm up set 1 working set to failure per exercise, like is there really something to it? When I was first starting out, all i'd hear was you needed mid to high volumes when you're a beginner and working on your foundation, but seeing physiques like Mike Mentzer back in the day, it was really impressive how he ended up looking, all proportionate, big, and full. I like the idea that a typical low volume routine would also be quite short in duration as well. What do you all think?
    The program that you are describing is called HIT. There are many problems with it. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/...38190701554277
    P.S. Mentzer built his body with standard bodybuilding splits and gallons of steroids. He used HIT in the last few years of his life. He created his own version of Hit called heavy duty which we renamed heavy dooty!
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    Originally Posted by all pro View Post
    Abstract

    The aim of the study was to review studies concerning single-set and multiple-set resistance training. Twenty-six articles were found, 19 randomized controlled trials and seven studies without randomization process. Out of the 26 articles, 11 showed similar increases in strength when comparing number of sets, mostly one set compared with three sets. Eight of the articles showed a greater increase when training with multiple sets. In four of the articles, the comparison was made between single-set training programmes, multiple-set programmes and periodized multiple-set programmes, showing superior results with periodized training. None of the articles reported superior strength gain in the single-set training group. There was no difference in outcome when comparing articles with trained subjects to articles with untrained subjects. It seems that in order to be physically active and staying fit, the use of single-set training is sufficient. However, to gain the greatest possible strength, the use of multiple-set training seems to be appropriate. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/...38190701554277
    So what's your point?
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    It certainly does work because at the end of the day, 1 set to failure is always going to be better than 10 sets with 5 reps left in reserve on each set (aka junk volume).
    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    So what's your point?
    I think I know where your 'junk volume' is located.
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    Originally Posted by all pro View Post
    I think I know where your 'junk volume' is located.
    Incorrect. Do you not think about what you read? I said 1 set to failure is better than 10 sets leaving many reps in reserve. That means sets stopped well before failure providing no real challenge. You cannot grow if you don't push yourself. Quantity without quality is useless. It's a no brainer my man.
    Last edited by Animal2692; 03-26-2020 at 02:08 PM.
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    For right or wrong, many people avoid failure because doing that means they can shift more total volume (by which I mean total weight*reps, i.e. tonnage) in a session. The 1 set to failure has less volume that doing many sets to say 3 reps before failure.

    I'm struggling to find a study that looks at link between hypertrophy and volume that doesn't require going to failure as part of it, but it's my belief that increasing total [recoverable] volume is an important ingredient in hypertrophy. Certainly it's a widely held belief.

    I'll keep trying to find a non failure volume study, sure Brad Schoenfeld must have written up something

    Edit: here we go, exactly this topic being researched, the one set to failure versus multiple sets. Be aware that Schoenfeld uses "volume" in terms of how many sets, not my use of volume as tonnage

    http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar_...=1&oi=scholarr

    Taken from the abstract

    "There is compelling evidence that RT [resistance training] is a primary driver of hypertrophy, with higher volumes showing greater increases in muscle growth. It therefore follows that those seeking to maximize hypertrophy should train with multi-set protocols..."
    Last edited by OldFartTom; 03-26-2020 at 02:41 PM.
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    For right or wrong, many people avoid failure because doing that means they can shift more total volume (by which I mean total weight*reps, i.e. tonnage) in a session. The 1 set to failure has less volume that doing many sets to say 3 reps before failure.

    I'm struggling to find a study that looks at link between hypertrophy and volume that doesn't require going to failure as part of it, but it's my belief that increasing total [recoverable] volume is an important ingredient in hypertrophy. Certainly it's a widely held belief.

    I'll keep trying to find a non failure volume study, sure Brad Schoenfeld must have written up something

    Edit: here we go, exactly this topic being researched, the one set to failure versus multiple sets. Be aware that Schoenfeld uses "volume" in terms of how many sets, not my use of volume as tonnage

    http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar_...=1&oi=scholarr

    Taken from the abstract

    "There is compelling evidence that RT [resistance training] is a primary driver of hypertrophy, with higher volumes showing greater increases in muscle growth. It therefore follows that those seeking to maximize hypertrophy should train with multi-set protocols..."
    And those multi sets have to be close to failure or working sets in order to be more effective than a single set to failure.

    Multi sets close to failure yields more gains than a single set to failure but a single set to failure yields more gains than multiple sets far from failure.

    What this means is, quantity without quality is rendered useless but the opposite isn't true unless you get picky and say 0 sets is 0 growth in that case theres no quantity or quality.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    And those multi sets have to be close to failure or working sets in order to be more effective than a single set to failure.

    Multi sets close to failure yields more gains than a single set to failure but a single set to failure yields more gains than multiple sets far from failure.

    What this means is, quantity without quality is rendered useless but the opposite isn't true unless you get picky and say 0 sets is 0 growth in that case theres no quantity or quality.
    Define close to failure.
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    Originally Posted by all pro View Post
    Define close to failure.
    Think he means failure at progressing, seems to be a pattern.

    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    my logic has been that it’s better to keep lifting the same amount for a while at a time because it would be better for your form and recovery as opposed to doing an extra rep or something extra each workout because it prevents you from getting too caught up in the numbers/quantifiable aspect of it and ultimately rushing the process at the expense of form, etc. ...

    Instead of benching 200 for 5 trying to add 1 rep each week for the next 5 weeks until you reach 200 for 10 then going up to 205, you just lift 200 for 5 for those 5 weeks then go up to 205. It’s as if by purposely holding back on the progression (which ends up being the same amount of time of adding 1 rep for 5 weeks before increasing like in the example I mentioned), you’re still making gains to potentially lift more so when the time comes to add weight, boom no problem you can do it and you do it without all the stress and hassle of trying to push each and every workout. That means that you can still make gains using the same weights and reps. Just because you’re not pushing for more each time doesn’t mean you’re not getting stronger but having that need to constantly do more each workout ends up becoming too much of an obsession for me.
    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    So last night while working out, I was feeling kind of down about my progress. The amount of reps I do for pull ups, dips, pistol squats, etc. have stayed relatively the same over the past 3 months without adding any weight to my exercises either. I kept thinking man this just isn't working. Then I realized, I gained 20lbs in 3 months when I started bulking up right after cutting.
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    OK, a digression on the original post... one thing that did strike me about the research I linked above was a discussion of responders so low to resistance training that they were called "non responders".

    When these individuals had their cardiovascular fitness increased in what was described as a "robust 6 week program" (presumably that means a 6 week ass kicking ) after that they then responded well to resistance training. So OK not the OP, but a lesson in benefits of GPP (especially for low/non responders)
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Think he means failure at progressing, seems to be a pattern.
    Animal2692 seems confused. He's all over the map and he can't define his terminology.
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    Originally Posted by all pro View Post
    Define close to failure.
    1-2 reps left in reserve.
    Weighted calisthenics>weights anyday. Relative strength>absolute strength
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    Think he means failure at progressing, seems to be a pattern.
    There's my little private investigator! Do me a favor and dig me up my post from 2 years ago in May on the 8th at approximately 6:00pm. I got a good treat for you at the end, it's nice having a forum pet.

    But on the real though! I have a feeling this guy gonna show up at my doorstep with screenshots of my past posts printed out after all this time tracking my activity via a bulletin board connecting dots in his room.

    Haters gonna hate!
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    Originally Posted by all pro View Post
    Animal2692 seems confused. He's all over the map and he can't define his terminology.
    I am confused. How does someone with nearly 20,000 posts not know the difference between his left and right hand?
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    1-2 reps left in reserve.
    The original Reg Park program has been in use for over 40 years and is still one of the most successful strength with size programs on the planet. Pushed to the limit on set 1 you have at least 3 reps in the tank! On set 2 you have at least 2 reps in the tank. I could list out dozens of intensity cycled programs where you are way short of failure at the beginning of the cycle and they've all been successful for decades. Did you just start studying this stuff yesterday?
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