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  1. #1
    Registered User Animal2692's Avatar
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    Question Volume can never be too low to not make any gains?

    I've heard about concepts such as MV (maintenance volume) where it's just enough volume to maintain current muscle mass. Does that imply 0% gains if doing maintenance volume? I feel like gains will always be made, and the volume just determines the extent of those gains. Maybe it's only called maintenance volume because the rate of gains is much slower and not worthy of being accounted for. Unless you're taking 2 weeks rest between workouts, I don't see how say 2 hard sets per week per muscle wouldn't yield any gains in which case it can't really be called "maintenance volume". In that case it's not so much a lack of volume, but too much rest. Actually strangely enough, the amount of rest taken determines if the volume is high or low. If protein synthesis even slightly outweighs protein degradation, it can never be considered maintenance. Give it 8 years and you must notice a difference no lol? It's kind of tough to do too little as long as you don't take too many days off because the first few sets already stimulate the most growth provided they are tough enough. I think there's been studies done out there with busy people getting by with just a few sets and in most cases those people actually made better gains than those constantly overreaching.

    Thoughts?
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    I've heard about concepts such as MV (maintenance volume) where it's just enough volume to maintain current muscle mass. Does that imply 0% gains if doing maintenance volume?
    That's the definition of maintenance volume. You're talking about MEV+.
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    If you do 2 sets a year will you gain?
    2 sets a month?
    2 sets a week?
    6 sets a week?
    Somewhere in there no gains will be made, and that precise location depends on the individual, composition, strength, training history, diet, sleep, etc.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    I've heard about concepts such as MV (maintenance volume) where it's just enough volume to maintain current muscle mass. Does that imply 0% gains if doing maintenance volume??
    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    That's the definition of maintenance volume. You're talking about MEV+.
    This basically answers the whole post.

    But there's a whole heap of red herrings and strawman arguments in here too. If you're making progress, then you're at MEV, not MV. We're also talking about theoretical concepts being applied to a practical situation. So if you're going to say that your protein degradation rate is 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000001g more than your muscle retention, then yes, in theory you're not in maintenance. But it doesn't significantly matter and we can make these nit picky arguments, but personally, I don't see a point, rather than debating for the sake of debating.

    Practically speaking, if you're actually at MV, you shouldn't be losing tremendous amounts of muscle, and if you're worried, you can always lean closer to MEV to be on the safe side of things.

    Speaking of red herrings and strawmen - yes the first sets may be the most simulative, but that's not evidence against stimulation being provided from following sets.

    By the same token, I'm not aware of this study you speak of so you may want to provide a reference. But, more importantly, nobody advocated for overreaching, especially in untrained lifters which are the general population used in these studies. Obviously, over a long period of time MEV is going to be better as it provides the opportunity to both have sufficient volume and progressively overload. Rather than overshooting your MRV, making zero strength gains, and running into a wall before the first week of the program is completed.
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    Yeah this is a little extreme and clearly untrue for most of us who have trained a bit.

    2 hard sets a week wouldn't do anything for any of my lifts in isolation.

    Now.. If I did 2 hard sets of squats, and lunges, and high bar, and quad iso etc.
    Well that might work, but that's not really 2 sets is it.
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    Can't believe how much deep thought and analysis people will put into NOT exercising
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    Due to variation in different people, obviously any kind of 'number' put on this is going to be an approximation. If you take calories as an analogy.

    You can only ever definitively be in a surplus or deficit. Say you burn 1 calorie over your intake, yes technically you are no longer in maintenance but a 1 calorie deficit. Sure, over 19 years you will lose a couple of lb if you can forever consistently maintain this exact balance. But you won't and can't because there are too many variables

    The factors that affect protein synthesis are far more varied and complex. Maintenance volume is only ever a theoretical concept in practice. In theory it exists but it translates to an 'ideal' that it would be impossible to find in the real world, the biology, mathematics and monitoring technology just do not exist.

    So all you're really arguing OP is that, yes, you cannot technically measure anything perfectly... because reality. That does not mean that the concept is invalid. Just that it is not perfectly applicable. Just like it's not possible to even measure a precise inch of length, which is a much simpler undertaking. With ever more sophisticated methods you can approach that 'inch' to ever increasing degrees of accuracy. But will you ever actually achieve it? No. Because even the line you draw to define that 'inch' is, itself, a margin of error
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  8. #8
    Registered User Animal2692's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by rsid97 View Post
    This basically answers the whole post.

    But there's a whole heap of red herrings and strawman arguments in here too. If you're making progress, then you're at MEV, not MV. We're also talking about theoretical concepts being applied to a practical situation. So if you're going to say that your protein degradation rate is 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 000000000000000000001g more than your muscle retention, then yes, in theory you're not in maintenance. But it doesn't significantly matter and we can make these nit picky arguments, but personally, I don't see a point, rather than debating for the sake of debating.

    Practically speaking, if you're actually at MV, you shouldn't be losing tremendous amounts of muscle, and if you're worried, you can always lean closer to MEV to be on the safe side of things.

    Speaking of red herrings and strawmen - yes the first sets may be the most simulative, but that's not evidence against stimulation being provided from following sets.

    By the same token, I'm not aware of this study you speak of so you may want to provide a reference. But, more importantly, nobody advocated for overreaching, especially in untrained lifters which are the general population used in these studies. Obviously, over a long period of time MEV is going to be better as it provides the opportunity to both have sufficient volume and progressively overload. Rather than overshooting your MRV, making zero strength gains, and running into a wall before the first week of the program is completed.
    Awesome post. I was just curious if anyone would think differently if looking at it the same way as I did. You offered a greater perspective on it
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    It's an interesting question because you can compare two people who don't lift - but one is bedridden and the other does normal activity like walking around, carrying shopping bags etc. The latter will probably have more muscle than the former.

    I think activity defines where you plateau... Obviously just doing normal daily activities is not going to make you jacked... but having an active job might raise you up a little higher.

    I think the problem is that there is not a linear response of muscle growth to volume. You have to present a novel challenge to put yourself on a path to a higher plateau. Progressive overload is how we do this. But at some point that challenge becomes more than you can recover from (MRV?). This could be what we call maximum genetic potential...
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  10. #10
    WOATbrah of peace :) sooby's Avatar
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    It's really not that difficult to maintain muscle mass, as long as you eat enough calories and maybe perform a few hard sets per muscle group a week.

    it's enough for a beginner, given that they are going from a state of being completely untrained to doing some hard sets a week, but it doesn't last forever, something has to change in order for the body to adapt. volume just happens to be one of those factors.

    MV and MRV at the end of the day are theoretical concepts meant to frame the logic rather than being some exact science.

    It's true that the first set would give you the most stimulation and bang for your buck and all sets after that would technically face diminishing returns, but I think there is a threshold there to reach that if reached would cause muscle gain.

    Anecdotally, I've not really heard of anybody outside of the beginner phase making gains for any significant period of time doing 2 sets of a body part a week.
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    Originally Posted by sooby View Post
    It's really not that difficult to maintain muscle mass, as long as you eat enough calories and maybe perform a few hard sets per muscle group a week.

    it's enough for a beginner, given that they are going from a state of being completely untrained to doing some hard sets a week, but it doesn't last forever, something has to change in order for the body to adapt. volume just happens to be one of those factors.

    MV and MRV at the end of the day are theoretical concepts meant to frame the logic rather than being some exact science.

    It's true that the first set would give you the most stimulation and bang for your buck and all sets after that would technically face diminishing returns, but I think there is a threshold there to reach that if reached would cause muscle gain.

    Anecdotally, I've not really heard of anybody outside of the beginner phase making gains for any significant period of time doing 2 sets of a body part a week.
    Lol what if doing just a few sets per muscle per week is enough to making excellent gains? I do 6 hard sets per muscle per week which is considered just a few sets and been making much better progress. I've done 10 for a while before but I find that 10 is pushing it for me even when I was bulking, 10 sets per muscle per week is overreaching. I don't know anything else besides going to failure.
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Lol what if doing just a few sets per muscle per week is enough to making excellent gains? I do 6 hard sets per muscle per week which is considered just a few sets and been making much better progress. I've done 10 for a while before but I find that 10 is pushing it for me even when I was bulking, 10 sets per muscle per week is overreaching. I don't know anything else besides going to failure.
    6 is generally considered to be more than "just a few". Shouldn't you be doing 2 sets per muscle to prove your original theory to yourself, and decrease from there?
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    So the thing is....

    Maintenance is a lot lower And muscle loss slower than people think..
    Especially if you arent in a defecit.


    Its a balance of protein breakdown vs synthesising new proteins.
    Think of it like kinda like a wall where the bottom row of bricks is falling off at a given rate.. And you build a new row on top.

    You have to synthesise more than breaks down or you loose muscle. Physiologically you certainly can do too little (and eat to little) to not make gains, nor hold maintenance and actually loose gainz.

    Its also dependant on how much mass you carry as to how fast you loose it. And if you take magic skittles.
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    Originally Posted by air2fakie View Post
    6 is generally considered to be more than "just a few". Shouldn't you be doing 2 sets per muscle to prove your original theory to yourself, and decrease from there?
    Now that would be way too low! I'm only just talking here with no intention to apply it
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    Would a short week-long volume deload be sufficient to lower MEV at least by a couple of sets?

    But even then it wouldn’t take long for it to spike back up, I guess... I’ve never actually tried, I just dive right back into the same number of sets.
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    Originally Posted by MyEgoProblem View Post
    So the thing is....

    Maintenance is a lot lower And muscle loss slower than people think..
    Especially if you arent in a defecit.


    Its a balance of protein breakdown vs synthesising new proteins.
    Think of it like kinda like a wall where the bottom row of bricks is falling off at a given rate.. And you build a new row on top.

    You have to synthesise more than breaks down or you loose muscle. Physiologically you certainly can do too little (and eat to little) to not make gains, nor hold maintenance and actually loose gainz.

    Its also dependant on how much mass you carry as to how fast you loose it. And if you take magic skittles.
    Magic skittles?! Is that where you like, taste the rainbow of gains or something
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Now that would be way too low! I'm only just talking here with no intention to apply it
    Hah my bad, I thought you were doing one of your come-up-with-a-theory-to-match-how-you-want-to-train things. :P
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Magic skittles?! Is that where you like, taste the rainbow of gains or something
    First rule of skittles club... Is we can't talk about skittles here...
    Some may know them as super creatine or the Russian Olympic sports supplements of the past decades
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  19. #19
    WOATbrah of peace :) sooby's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Animal2692 View Post
    Lol what if doing just a few sets per muscle per week is enough to making excellent gains? I do 6 hard sets per muscle per week which is considered just a few sets and been making much better progress. I've done 10 for a while before but I find that 10 is pushing it for me even when I was bulking, 10 sets per muscle per week is overreaching. I don't know anything else besides going to failure.
    if you're making decent progress with 6 hard sets, then congratulations you're making progress, you should probably continue doing what you're doing unless it stops working
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