Why is it that almost everyone working out at gyms do high volume bodypart splits? Today is another Monday and in just about every gym that means that it’s chest day. Tomorrow is back day, Thursday is legs day and Friday is arms day. Or… something along those lines, I suppose.
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What’s with the lack of variety and rational thought? Why the need for all that training volume?
You should to understand that most forms of working out and training have simply been passed down for decades from one generation to the other, without much inclusion of rational thought. At some point in the 60’s, sensible training programs became less prevalent because of the growing usage of anabolic steroids.
In the old days, guys like Steve Reeves and Paul Anderson trained with much more sensible and lower volume programs. But, but these began to disappear in the 60’s. By the time Arnold was at Gold’s Gym in Venice, high volume, bodypart splits became the widely accepted way for everyone to train for muscle size and strength.
This kind of training was, and still isn’t based on deductive reasoning. Rather, it’s based on the fact that “it’s what everyone else is doing”. Ans, it certainly will not help YOU gain muscle mass quickly. Proponents of these training methods will always tell you that “higher volume training is essential to reap the benefits of hypertrophy”.
Says who? I can tell you for a fact that there are no studies saying that you need 8-12 sets per bodypart in order to grow. In fact there are studies that show just the opposite – that one set is just as effective as three sets.
The proponents of high volume training will also say that higher volume training is directly associated with higher levels of growth hormone secretion. However, what they won’t tell you is that the increase on growth hormone levels is not high enough to make any difference at all. In fact, almost any activity you do elevates GH. Extreme temperatures elevate GH levels but you don’t see your biceps getting bigger every time you take a shower. The increased GH secretion from high volume training is so minimal that it’s not enough to make even the slightest difference let alone help you gain muscle mass quickly.
For drug free weightlifters who don’t possess muscle building genetics up to par with Arnold, the Austrian Oak, training with high volume bodypart splits is a big mistake. Not only will it drain your amino acid reserves and glycogen stores but it will also dramatically prolong your recovery time between workouts. If you do 8-12 sets for chest on Monday you can’t recover from that kind of workout and be able to train again for seven days. Thus, you are only getting one growth stimulus/cycle per week or fifty two per year in total.
However, if you reduce your training volume to the point where you can recover faster without draining your amino acid pool and glycogen stores, you can train bodyparts two times per week instead of once a week. Thereby, you can gain muscle mass quickly (or much quicker). Suddenly, instead of 52 growth stimulating workouts each year for per bodypart, you will fo 104. Furthermore, if your volume is kept low you can also get train bodyparts three times a week in certain situations. Thus, which do you think is more effective: 156 growth stimulating workouts each year or 52 workouts?
If you want to train more often you must lower your training volume. The total number of sets per workout should be kept low and the total sets per exercise should be even lower. There is no need to do four sets of incline chest press, flat bench press and decline chest press for your chest workouts. Doing that borders with a form of neuroses. You may think that you have to hit every angle of your chest and do endless sets to stimulate every muscle fiber, but this is just not the case.
The reason high-volume bodypart split training programs remain popular is because no one wants to be told that they are doing something wrong. Admitting mistakes is something many people have problems doing. Nobody likes to have their ego bruised so they simply keep doing and promoting the same old stale high volume workouts that they have always had.
That’s fine, let such people continue to do what they want. Personally, I have much more important things to do than spend all my waking hours at the gym. If I can get better results in less time I will choose that option every single time.
So, cut your volume down, up the weights and intensity and get ready to gain muscle mass quickly and answer the “what are you on” questions that will be coming your way.