Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Proof is in the Pudding

Training volume, like frequency and intensity should always be cycled. However, that doesn't mean that high volume training is ever necessary. There are plenty of people out there who still believe they should be in the gym six days a week, doing 25-40 sets per workout. This couldn't be further from the truth.

Like I have always said, less is more. But don't get it twisted, low volume does not equal HIT, the two are not synonymous.

To serve up some more proof that low volume training is the way to go, let' s take a look at just a small sample of highly successful lifters, coaches or training programs (in no particular order) that advocate an average of about 12 sets per workout.

  1. Dorian Yates- One of the biggest and most successful bodybuilders of all time. 1-2 sets per exercise, 10-12 sets per workout.

  2. Jim Wendler- An enormous and inhumanly strong son of a bitch, who squats 1003 pounds and always uses a minimalist approach in his training. It's not unusual for Jim to do 5 sets and go home.

  3. Matt Kroczaleski- A lean 250 pound powerlifter who won the Arnold Classic with a 926 pound squat, 617 pound bench press and 733 pound deadlift. He also does an average of 9 sets per workout.

  4. Alwyn Cosgrove- Probably the smartest and most well read man in the entire fitness industry. Recommends an average of 12 sets per workout.

  5. Marc Bartley- At 275 pounds, Marc has squatted 1058, bench pressed 700 and pulled 722. He rarely does anything close to high volume.

  6. Ian King- A very influential and brilliant coach who made people question high volume training with his first series of popular articles back in the late 90's. His highest volume workouts are usually 12 sets, max.

  7. John Alvino- One of the most successful, experienced and well read trainers anywhere in the world, John rarely advocates high volume training with any of his clients and his results are usually among the best I have ever seen. He also trained with Dorian Yates and competed against Mr. Olympia, Jay Cutler doing 12-15 sets per workout.

  8. Bill Starr- One of the legends of the strength game and the man who made 5x5 the most famous set and rep scheme ever. The basis of this program was three exercises for a grand total of fifteen sets. There is a reason it is still popular today.

  9. Ed Coan- One of powerlifting's all time great legends who possesses a 1038 pound squat, 578 pound bench press and incredible 901 pound deadlift. Ed is also known for his extremely low training volume.

  10. Joe DeFranco- One of the best and most highly successful trainers in the world who has worked with countless athletes of all levels. Joe has most of his guys lift three days per week and rarely writes a workout that exceeds 12-15 sets. In fact, I don't think he ever does.

  11. Skip LaCour- The biggest, strongest and most famous drug free bodybuilder of all time. Like Yates, LaCour only does 1-2 sets per exercise of a few different exercises, and that's it. He stresses the importance of lifting heavy and keeping your training volume low as the most important thing you can do in your quest to get bigger and stronger.

  12. Robert Dos Remedios- One of the smartest and most experienced strength coaches in the game today. Dos has worked with more athletes than 99% of all coaches out there and is among the best in his field. He never does a workout consisting of more than 15 sets.

  13. John McCallum- In my opinion the best writer in the history of the iron game. John was famous for his series of articles back in the 70's known as The Keys To Progress. Most of his workouts were based around a set or two of squats and a few sets of pushing and pulling. Low volume and simplicity were the basis for his theories and plenty of people had incredible success with his programs.

  14. Randall J. Strossen/ Super Squats- The old 20 rep squat programs were wildly popular back in the day and this was the book that really brought their popularity to the masses. Thousands of people worldwide, including myself and many of my training partners at the time packed on slabs of muscle from these incredibly short workouts which consisted of 6-10 sets, total.

  15. Leo Costa/ Serious Growth- Leo is a lifetime drug free bodybuilder who brought his weight up to around 270+ pounds by keeping his workouts short and sweet. Not only that, but he has a loyal following of thousands who have experienced similar results. These workouts usually average 12 sets total.

  16. Dante Trudel/ Doggcrapp- Dante is a well known trainer from Southern California who has gained an enormous cult like following on the internet due to the success of his training programs. His clients gain an average of 47 pounds of muscle in their first year. Total number of sets per workout? 5-8.
There are plenty more examples out there but I think you get the point.

To learn more about the benefits of low volume training, visit

Train smart.