Information Misc

High Volume Training

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High Volume Training. What is high volume training?

High volume training is a style of bodybuilding training that involves working out for extended periods of time, performing a high number of sets, or both. Generally, a high volume workout is associated with a bodybuilding split routine, but full body workouts can be high volume as well.

The high volume style of training is generally associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Oddly enough, Arnold actually built a good portion of his muscle mass using a full body, Reg Park style routine.

Over time, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s routine evolved into a system where muscle groups were worked 3 times per week. Generally, Arnold Schwarzenegger performed over 90 sets per major muscle group per week.

In the modern era, high volume training rarely resembles an Arnold style routine. Though bodybuilding magazines and professional bodybuilders are still known as high volume advocates, their routines rarely work individual body parts more then once a week.

Therefore, in a modern context, high volume training can be generalized by looking at the following 2 parameters…

  • Time. A high volume system of training generally involves a training time of 75-150 minutes per workout.
  • Sets. A high volume system of training generally involves performing 18-30 sets per body part.

High volume training has been shown as a less then desirable  training method for natural bodybuilders, but a very effective system for steroid enhanced lifters. Workouts have a tendency to turn catabolic (muscle destroying) for natural lifters after 60 minutes.

It should also be said that beginning trainees can often pack on muscle mass using any routine. It is not uncommon to see beginners gain muscle mass on high volume routines despite its limitations.

Simply put, the initial shock that comes from undertaking a weight training routine, and the resulting anabolic boost, outweighs the limitations of the training system. But after months of training, a high volume routine generally stops yielding results for most lifters.

By limiting the rest period between sets, the length of high volume workouts can be shortened, making it a more viable training option.

Iron Hercules
Iron Hercules is the bodybuilding and powerlifting content bot.
  • philip Aug 21,2013 at 12:01 pm

    Guys in prison are practically bursting with testosterone. This is a big part of why they get so big.

    • jacob Jul 25,2014 at 8:40 am

      You do realize most, if not all, prisoners who are huge are already big before going to prison?
      I know the post is a year old but you guys are pretty sad. You could check out some research instead of believing hype that “incredibly massive” pavel tsatsouline has to say, hahaha. ALL research on NATURAL lifters shows lower volume higher frequency training (twice a week to once every 5 dayS) is SUPERIOR for muscle gains.

  • Tony Aug 17,2013 at 2:40 am

    You do realize that Reg Park did an insane amount of volume in his full body workouts right ? It was like 15-20 exercises all crammed into one session. That’s what most body part splits have in an entire week lol.

  • Sam Jul 4,2013 at 4:05 pm

    I’ve gotta’ chime in here. I’ve personally known at least a dozen guys 25 years ago and further back, who went to prison or jail and got BIG doing 10 sets of 10 of “Benches, Back-arms, and Curls.” They did Benches Mon. Wed. Fri., and supersetted tri’s and bi’s on Tues. Thurs. Sat. They were NOT on steroids. Some missed a couple of workouts each week. The key is the total volume for the body. They weren’t working “everything” in this case, just chest and arms.

    I’ve known other natural bodybuilders — some who went to jail and some who weren’t locked-up — who got incredibly fast and startling results in size gains working the entire body with an even higher volume per bodyparts (like 22 sets for chest, 16 sets for biceps, etc.). In these cases I’ve observed in every case an extension in the recovery TIME between bodyparts, like hitting chest every 5 – 6 days instead of every other day. This seemed to produce even better and faster (and obviously, more complete) results for these guys. But, I think the total volume of sets for the entire body within a given time frame is an important consideration. In other words, you could do pushups with high reps on almost a daily basis and probably get results because you’d only be working one group of muscles and “recovery” wouldn’t have to be split up and “divided” over the entire body — if that makes any sense. It seems to me, from observation and experience, that the more bodyparts you work, the more demands you are putting on the “recovery system” as a whole. So, if you’re natural, and you’re working chest, back, and legs with high volume — that’s a lot to recover from. You need a corresponding increase in the time needed to recuperate. Again, if you’re NATURAL. 28 years ago, I met Dave Draper and asked him, “How did you guys recover doing all those sets 3 times a week?” His one-word answer: “Supplementation.”

  • arnold uses steroids Dec 6,2012 at 5:37 pm

    @M. Winchester Sr.
    why do you keep mention tsatsouline?? he ISN’T HUGE. he looks like a distance runner : s-c-r-a-w-n-y!! you need to walk the talk before you can start dishing out advice.

  • EricT Nov 10,2011 at 5:26 am

    Im so sick of hearing how Arnold built most of his mass on a 3 day strength routine Crap……His book Educ. of a Bodybuilder. He states that he wasnt satisfied with working out 3 days a week and quickly escalated his workouts to 6 days a week at age 16 only 1 year in…. High volume high frequency moderate weight and progressive resistance is what he did from the begining to the end….He dabbled in powerlifting only.. Read his words not others

    • Mick Madden Nov 10,2011 at 2:53 pm

      Arnold’s role model was Reg Park. Arnold followed a Reg Park style fullbody and packed on a good portion of his mass long before the Pumping Iron days.

      You can believe what you want, but that doesn’t make it true.

      • Eric T Oct 10,2014 at 8:45 am

        Actually it is you believing what you want. I am going on the words of the Man.himself….but you are going of the words or writings of some imp.. probably trying to sell some crap. IN FACT from Arnie’s own words his year in the military was his biggest gain in a year up until then ..25lbs…In the military he had to pace his workouts because he had to workout the whole day! Arnie started full body modeling after Reg but his enthusiasm quickly escalated his workouts to six days a year in … before his real mass gain.. Look at his pics at 16yrs old ..that was the full body workout results.. Learn to read the words of the Man and you will be left less clueless.

  • […] hit. Will look around for more info or studies, since there are reports like this floating around: "High volume training has been shown as a less then desirable training method for natural bodyb… – could just be a load of bollocks (no listed author or refs), and I'm not sure that they're […]

  • John Thomas Apr 28,2011 at 1:21 am

    M Winchester Sr must be correct because he uses CAPITALS.

  • M. Winchester Sr. Apr 23,2011 at 10:50 pm

    Anyone whose seen the light and realized high volume is THE answer to size do yourself a favor and get Power To The People & a flexibility book both by Pavel Tsatsouline.

    • Mick Madden Apr 25,2011 at 1:16 pm

      High volume is completely unneeded for natural trainees. No one is advocating HIT, but I would say a fullbody approach is far better for naturals than high volume.

  • M. Winchester Sr. Apr 23,2011 at 10:46 pm

    Drugs are not THAT easily obtained in prison, definitely not easier than the street. Besides in most areas in the U.S. most steroids are unsterile, diluted, tijuana bathtub produced crap whose only effect is 90% placebo.

    I have used and get MUCH better results clean. I DO NOT beleive they work anyway and nowhere near as hyped regardless of what anyone says.

    • Klado Mar 29,2014 at 5:53 pm

      Then you gotta read some cientific research done to over 40+ people. Some consuming PEDs, and the other going natty.

      The result? One-drugs = more results than Natural trainees, as expected. If you dabble to argue with that then throw in some scientific research and not only personal opinions.

  • Josh Feb 7,2011 at 3:58 pm

    Prisoners have easier access to steroids (and any other drug for that matter) than people on the outside.

  • Stan Dec 26,2010 at 3:35 pm

    10 sets isn’t high volume though.

    • M. Winchester Sr. Apr 23,2011 at 10:42 pm

      10 sets isn’t high volume? If its 10 sets of the SAME exercise all done w/ a fairly heavy weight done back 2 back w/ little rest between them then THAT is high volume. If its a w/out of 10 exercises all done for 1 set each then no its not high volume.

  • Serhat Nov 9,2010 at 5:04 pm

    Have you been to any of those prisons that you have stated? How do you know that they train for hours?

    • M. Winchester Sr. Apr 23,2011 at 10:48 pm

      True. Alot of prisons have removed them because the inmates were getting SO large/strong they couldn’t be controlled w/ using extreme measures which become a huge liability to prison.

  • Chris Tucker Oct 2,2009 at 8:55 pm

    If anyone has ever looked at a someone who lifted weights in Prison, many of these guys are huge!
    They have no steroids in there either.
    With nothing but time on their hands, they workout for hours sometimes.
    Doing 10 sets of bench presses are common.
    Many of these guys are huge.
    Think about it ??

    • pete Jan 3,2011 at 10:54 pm

      good point about prison workouts etc…they eat 3x day max….train 5x week….h,mmm

    • M. Winchester Sr. Apr 23,2011 at 10:32 pm

      ^ Chris is exactly right. Volume is THE way to hugeness. It sure as hell isn’t (1) measely, connective tissue destroying HIT set to failure. Ask Pavel Tsatsouline if you don’t beleive us.

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