Q: Here’s a question about volume. As we will see, more isn’t always better in bodybuilding. Here’s the question: “For the past year and a half I’ve been training for about an hour a workout, six days a week. Unfortunately, I’ve made little progress in that time. Some of the other bodybuilders in the gym say I need to exercise longer to make better progress, but I’m already tired most of the time. What do you think”?
A: More isn’t always better in bodybuilding. Your advisers are misleading you. The principle “more is better” is often applied to economics. For example, more money is always better than less money. However, don’t take principles from one context, like economics. Don’t blindly apply them to another context, such as bodybuilding. This mistake in thinking is called “context-switching”. It’s responsible for mistakes in many areas besides exercise.
More Isn’t Always Better In Bodybuilding – The Training Element
The training element that stimulates muscular size and strength increases is known as intensity. It is defined as the percentage of momentary muscular effort. The closer you carry a set to momentary failure, the closer you are to 100% intensity of effort. Not to mention, you’re closer to the likelihood of results.
More Isn’t Always Better In Bodybuilding – It’s About Intensity
Let’s say you can curl 100 pounds for a maximum of 10 reps. The 10th rep is the last possible one you can complete despite your greatest effort. The first rep will obviously be the easiest. It will require the least effort and be the least productive. Each successive rep becomes harder. This will require a higher percentage of your greatest possible effort. The tenth, or last rep, demands an all out, “maximum intensity” effort. Therefore it will be the most productive one of the set.
More Isn’t Always Better In Bodybuilding – Less Can Be More
High-intensity effort is very demanding. It uses up more of the body’s limited reserve of resources than any other type of training. It is this demanding nature of high-intensity training that makes it the most productive. You must be careful, however, as the body’s reserves are limited. Performing one set more than the least number required to stimulate growth will result in overtraining and a reduction in results.
How do you discover the least amount of exercise required for you to stimulate growth? Start with the least amount possible, which is one set per muscle. Reduce your training frequency to twice and no more than three times a week. After a brief warm-up, do one exercise and no more than two for each bodypart. If you decide to work out twice a week, train your entire body each workout. Do no more than one set of 6-10 reps for each muscle. Make sure the last rep is the last possible one you can perform despite your greatest effort.
In And Out Quickly!
Remember, more isn’t always better in bodybuilding. Each workout should take no more than 30 minutes. If you eventually want to try three times a week, split the body in half for the first two workouts. For instance, do legs, back and biceps on Monday. Do chest, shoulders and triceps on Wednesday. Then do a full body workout on Friday. Take each weekend off for full recuperation. Stick to basic exercises such as squats, rows, incline benches, curls and dips, etc. Perform each set in perfectly strict form. Resist the temptation to add more sets.
Your progress should be immediate and significant. If not, you’re either not training hard enough, overtraining, or both. Good luck!