I'm wondering how many of you have used lower volume routines in the past. Stuff like DC, Heavy Duty training, etc. I know HCT-12 is somewhat along these lines also. What have been your experiences and gains with such programs?
I've done a bunch of abreviated and low volume training. Looking back, I shouldn't have done so much of it. I now realize that increasing your work capacity is a very important part of building your base. However, you shouldn't start there.
Abreviated training lets you get strong, fast. By focussing on just a few lifts, you have more time devoted to recovery and growth. David Maurice, author of the Hardgainer Q&A, once said that a beginner can only make fast gains on about six lifts at a time. Spreading yourself too thin slows down progress. Look at all the real good and proven routines out there like Hardgainer, Starting Strength, Super Squats, and Star; you will see a routine made of just a few well-chosen lifts.
My favorite abreviated routine [that I've done] was Rader's Deadlift Routine:
Deadlift - Work up to a heavy set of 5
Deadlift - 1x20 (only pause at the top/lockout)
Bench Press - 2x12
Barbell Curls - 2x12
My weight and strength really took off on this routine. It'll make you HUNGRY!!!
About the low-volume training. As you know I'm a pretty big advocate for it and I've been playing with it for almost 9 months now, even though I took about 2 months going higher volume.
There are a few things about HIT that make sense to me. First off I think it's great for recovery as you don't continuously thrash your muscles with set after set after set, so the DOMS might not be as bad, thus allowing you to recover quicker. If you can recover quicker then in theory you should be able to hit that same muscle group sooner rather than later. This is pretty much the idea of DC, which made a lot of sense to me as I was reading through the program.
Second off, I think HIT allows you to push your muscles beyond their limits, but with less sets. The idea is to do extended sets, rest-pause, drop sets, negatives, forced reps, so whatever you can to push your body past failue. You don't just do 1 set of 10 reps on the Bench, but you can start doing an extended set, then rack it and go rest-pause, then you could drop set or force reps afterwards, so in the end you've done 15-25 reps depending on your Intensity method.
One of the biggest factors for me to helped me say that HIT and low-volume training have its place is after I've done some "true" HIT sets. After a set I am thouroughly taxed and I still have a great pump, and by the end of my set I am unable to do one more rep.
The biggest thing I notice about my all out working set is that I think to myself "I know that I could not do that exact same set and get the same number of reps again". So if I can say that to myself and believe it what is the point of doing another set that isn't as intense.
Also, amping yourself up for these sets can get tiring over 5-6 exercises, especially if some of the big movements are in there.
I'm sill trying to understand the idea of the necessity of increasing your workload capacity, but I believe that over time on a low-volume HIT routine you can increase the intensity methods that you use, as well as adding maybe another set or 2, but I don't think it's wise to double your working sets when using a true HIT philosophy.
For me the idea of HIT makes sense and it's one of the biggest reasons that I like to stick with it and I'm getting ready to start another DC cycle. Hopefully my gains are as good as last times.
Great post from Off Road.
I've gone through most approached - very high volume when I started out to low volume and over-worrying about over-training. Slowly and cleverly increasing work capacity so you can train more often and recover appropriately is the key.
There are also other factors involved though so its important you find whats right for you. For example I tend to be naturally very stiff and suffer with poor mobility and therefore get a lot of niggles and injuries. So, I have to try and tread that fine line between over-doing it because injuries just suck and are the number one road block to progress. So try and find what works for YOU.
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Could you use other methods to increase your workload capacity?
So for example could you do an abbreviated routine based on 1-2 heavy exercises 2-3 times a week, but then do one HIIT cardio session a week, and add barbell complexes once a week.
That way you could give it your all on the strength workouts but be doing just enough separately to also work the lungs, heart, CNS and all the small muscles. Would this be an effective way of increasing conditioning without over-training?
Over time you will want to increase the volume of your routine, but do it slowly. Throw an extra set onto your accessory lifts every cycle or two. After a while you may be able to add an extra exercise to your routine. The point is to do it slowly and only make small changes that are easy to track. If you don't change too many things, then it's easier to pinpoint the problem when things don't go well.
Lastly, I want to thank Chevelle for starting an excellent thread.
I've never really read much about increasing your workload capacity. Are there any articles or particular authors that speak about this subject much? I can't blatantly say that I'm ignorant to the topic. Naturally I'd say that the body adapts to the majority of extremes that are placed upon it, but I haven't seen much with regards to the benefits of increasing volume to push your body further.
I do understand the aspect of increasing the workload which could come in the form of increasing weight, reps, TUT (time under tension), and things of that nature, but the workload capacity is rather foreign to me.
Enlighten me please.
I first heard about it from Iron Addict (Wesley, may he RIP). He claimed that Hardgainer-ness was from a lack of conditioning. That lack of conditioning hampers recovery and must therefore be built up over time. You can't do it too fast because, well, becuase you aren't conditioned yet (lol). To try and gain it too fast leads to overworking and a lack of recovery. Vicious cycle I know...
I then started a thread here on WBB about increasing work capacity and the guys here gave me some great ideas. Mixed with a few of my own, it has worked very well. My workouts now are about twice what they used to be and I am still recovering.
Sled pulls probably work so well for this because you are only exercising concentrically and it's the eccentric phase that causes soreness. Hence you tire yourself out but won't eat into your recovery capabilities.
I've found that my capacity for cardio is fairly high but for weight-lifting is fairly low. I would say my "conditioning" is actually quite good but I still can't get away with high-volume routines. I think this is partly to do with body-type (I'm an ectomorph) and possibly something to do with muscle-fibres, but I suppose that's the same thing.
This is why barbell complexes intrigue me - it seems like such a good middle ground, and such a good way to improve barbell-related work capacity.
A question I have is if you are doing a lower volume routine how far can you take the frequency you hit certain muscles? For example, currently I do low volume direct and semi-direct (close-grip chins, close-grip dips) on two days of the week for three sets of each exercise. Since this is lower volume than I have done in the past, could I hit them 3x a week as long as it doesn't affect recovery for the big three lifts?
What would be the maximum you'd want to hit a muscle during the week if on a lower volume routine?
Low volume high intensity training did not work as well for me.
Medium to meduim-high volume seems to suit me for what its worth.
Bench geared 525 @ 210
Deadlift geared 650 @ 220
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