High volume, low volume, high frequency, infrequent training, to failure, not to failure, heavy loading, "pump" training. Now more than ever, the average gym rat is bombarded by so many options that he'll be lucky if he can avoid quitting altogether because of confusion!

Sure, these different "styles" of training make for good discussions (when they don't turn into flame wars), but when all is said and done, does learning about all those methods really make you a better connoisseur of the lifting game? Maybe it simply confuses the hell out of you and leaves you further from an effective program than when you started reading!

You see, I firmly believe that having 100% trust in the efficacy of a program is one of the most important factors in your success with the routine. Your trust in a program will really affect the degree of effort, focus, and dedication that you'll put into your training. This will obviously jack up your results immensely.

That's one of the reasons why every program you read on Testosterone will give you results: you believe in them. As a result, your actual performance in the gym improves, which leads to greater gains.

That having been said, there are still several ways to skin the proverbial cat, and all of them really work, at least to some extent. However, I feel it's equally important to understand why they work. If you understand something you're much less likely to get confused. Confusion has the opposite effect as trust: it decreases your level of focus and effort, thus your results.

So in this article I'll tackle several different training approaches and explain why they work and when they're optimal to use.

Strategy #1: Heavy Lifting, High Frequency, Low Volume

The first way you can train is based on the use of heavy weights, in the 85-100% of max range, on a few basic exercises performed relatively frequently. Most of the time, a whole body split three times a week or an upper/lower body split (four sessions per week) is used for this approach.

A training session should include:

Whole Body Approach

  • One basic quad dominant exercise (a form of squat, leg press, etc.)
  • One basic hip dominant exercise (Romanian deadlift, good morning, stiff-leg deadlift, sumo deadift, reverse hyper, etc.)
  • One upper body horizontal pull exercise (chest-supported rowing, one-arm dumbbell row, etc.)
  • One upper body horizontal push exercise (decline, flat, or low incline bench press with a bar or dumbbells)
  • One upper body vertical pull exercise (weighted chins or pull-ups, lat pulldown variation, etc.)
  • One upper body vertical push exercise (high incline or seated press with a bar or dumbbells)
  • One abdominal exercise

Upper/Lower Body Approach

Lower Body Day:

  • One squat variation (front squat, close-stance squat, medium stance squat, etc.)
  • One hip dominant basic exercise (Romanian deadlift, good morning, stiff-leg deadlift, sumo deadlift, etc.)
  • One secondary quad compound (leg press variation, hack squat, etc.)
  • One secondary hamstring exercise (reverse hyper, glute-ham raise, pull-through)
  • One unilateral lower body exercise (lunges, Bulgarian squat, split squat, etc.)
  • One calf exercise

Upper Body Day:

  • One upper body horizontal pull exercise (chest-supported rowing, one-arm dumbbell row, etc.)
  • One upper body horizontal push exercise (decline, flat, or low incline bench press with a bar or dumbbells)
  • One upper body vertical pull exercise (weighted chins or pull-ups, lat pulldown variation, etc.)
  • One upper body vertical push exercise (high incline or seated press with a bar or dumbbells)
  • One biceps exercise
  • One triceps exercise

Methods you can use with this approach:

  • Regular lifting with 85-100% of your max (1-3 and 4-6 rep ranges)
  • Clusters Use 87-92% of your maximum and perform sets of 5 reps with 10 seconds of rest between reps.
  • Rest-pause Perform a 4-6RM set; when you reach failure, rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Alternate sets Alternate sets of two exercises working different muscle groups with 60-90 seconds of rest between each exercise (not a superset).

Pros and cons of this approach:

  • Very significant motor learning due to the high frequency of training a movement pattern (rapid strength gains): PRO.
  • Emphasis on developing the neural aspects of strength production due to the heavy lifting: PRO if you're an athlete, but not so much if you're training strictly to improve your look.
  • Very energy costly. Using compound lifts require more energy, and working the whole body at one time vastly increases your metabolic rate for hours after your session is concluded: PRO if you're trying to lose fat or if you have a slow metabolism. CON if you're trying to gain a lot of weight or have a fast metabolism (it can be compensated for by increasing food intake however.)
  • Very efficient. Every exercise used is a basic lift involving a lot of muscle mass and will allow you to work the entire body with a small number of exercises: PRO, especially if you're pressed for time.
  • Can lead to unbalanced development. Using only compound movements might lead to an under-stimulation of some muscle groups because the body will use the muscles best suited to do the job during compound movements. As a result, your weaknesses won't improve as much as your strengths: CON, especially if you're after the development of a balanced physique.
  • Under-performing on some exercises. Face it, after working hard on squats and a hip movement, your energy levels will be pretty low. If you have four more compound movements to perform they'll invariably be performed with less effort (voluntarily or not) and focus than the earlier exercises: CON.
  • Limited to one type of gains. Since you're only using heavy lifting methods, your gains in strength-endurance and hypertrophy will be limited or at least sub-optimal: CON.

Why or when should you use this approach?

  • If you're an athlete who's training solely for performance
  • If your main objective is strength
  • If you don't have a lot of time to train
  • As a change of pace after a period of "bodybuilding-type" training

What are the most important supplements to use with this form of training?

  • Power Drive post-workout to help with CNS recovery
  • Surge post-workout to help with glycogen restoration and muscle growth
  • Creatine to help you mostly with the work in the 4-6 reps zone

Strategy #2: Wavelike Loading, High Frequency, Low to Moderate Volume

This second approach is very similar to the first one, the biggest difference being in the selection of the training load. While in strategy number one you rely only on heavy lifting, in this one you use two (for an upper/lower split) or three (for a whole body split) different training zones. For example:

Strength Emphasis

Day 1: Relative strength zone (1-3 reps range)
DAY 2: Limit strength zone (4-6 reps range)
DAY 3: (If using a whole body approach): Functional hypertrophy zone (6-8 reps range)

Functional Hypertrophy Emphasis

Day 1: Limit strength zone (4-6 reps range)
DAY 2: Functional hypertrophy zone (6-8 reps range)
DAY 3: (If using a whole body approach): Total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps range)

Maximum Hypertrophy Emphasis

Day 1: Functional hypertrophy zone (6-8 reps range)
DAY 2: Total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps range)
DAY 3: (If using a whole body approach): Strength-endurance zone (12-15 reps range)

Strength-Endurance Emphasis

Day 1: Total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps range)
DAY 2: Strength-endurance zone (12-15 reps range)
DAY 3: (If using a whole body approach): Endurance-strength zone (15-20 reps range)

Mixed/All-Purpose Training

Day 1: Limit strength zone (4-6 reps range)
DAY 2: Total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps range)
DAY 3: (If using a whole body approach): Endurance-strength zone (15-20 reps range)

The content and split used is/are the same as with strategy number one.

Methods you can use with this approach:

1 – During a relative or absolute strength session:

  • Regular lifting with 85-100% of your max (1-3 and 4-6 rep ranges)
  • Clusters Use 87-92% of your maximum and perform sets of 5 reps with 10 seconds of rest between reps.
  • Rest-pause Perform a 4-6RM set; when you reach failure, rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Alternate sets Alternate sets of two exercises working different muscle groups with 60-90 seconds of rest between each exercise (not a superset).

2 – During a functional hypertrophy session:

  • Regular lifting with your 6-8RM
  • Rest-pause Perform a 6-8RM set; when you reach failure, rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Double rest-pause Perform a 4-6RM set; when you reach failure, rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps, then rest 10-12 seconds and perform a few more reps again.
  • Single drop set Perform a 4-6RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure.

3 – During a total hypertrophy session:

  • Regular lifting with your 8-12RM
  • Rest-pause Perform a 8-12RM set; when you reach failure, rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Double rest-pause Perform a 6-8RM set; when you reach failure, rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps, then rest 10-12 seconds and perform a few more reps again.
  • Single drop set Perform a 6-8RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure.

4 – During a strength-endurance and/or endurance-strength session:

  • Regular lifting with your 12-15RM or 15-20RM
  • Double drop set Perform a 8-12RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure, then reduce the load by 25% again and perform a few more reps.
  • Pre-fatigue Superset one isolation (8-12 reps) with one compound exercise (6-8 reps) for the same muscle group.
  • Post-fatigue Superset one compound (6-8 reps) with one isolation exercise (8-12 reps) for the same muscle group.
  • Pre and post-fatigue Superset one isolation (8-12 reps), one compound (6-8 reps), and one more isolation exercise (8-12 reps) for the same muscle group.

Pros and cons of this approach:

  • Very significant motor learning due to the high frequency of training a movement pattern (rapid strength gains): PRO.
  • Very efficient: Every exercise used is a basic lift involving a lot of muscle mass and will allow you to work the entire body with a small number of exercises: PRO, especially if you're short on time.
  • Can lead to an unbalanced development. Using only compound movements might lead to an under-stimulation of some muscle groups because the body will use the muscles best suited to do the job during compound movements. As a result, your weaknesses won't improve as much as your strengths: CON, especially if you want a balanced physique.
  • Under-performing on some exercises at the end of your workout because you're shot from the squats and deads you did at the beginning: CON.
  • Even greater energy use than strategy number one due to the higher training volume (the higher volume being caused by the use of higher reps on some training days).
  • Allows you to develop several different physical capacities/properties simultaneously: PRO.
  • The higher volume of work makes it harder to recover from this strategy as from method number one.

Why or when should you use this approach?

  • If you're an athlete in an early training phase trying to build-up a foundation of size and strength.
  • If you're after a relatively complete level of development.
  • If you don't have a lot of time to train.
  • As a change of pace after a period of "bodybuilding-type" training.
  • If you're a beginner (but in that case stick to an maximum hypertrophy or strength-endurance emphasis).

What are the most important supplements to use with this form of training?

  • Power Drive post-workout to help with CNS recovery
  • Surge post-workout to help with glycogen restoration and muscle growth. After the higher volume sessions, it's a good idea to use more Surge than after the heavy weight sessions.
  • Creatine

Strategy #3: "Old-Time" Volume Training at a High Frequency

This is how a lot of bodybuilders from the Golden Era trained when preparing for a contest. Arnold and his gang, as well as other top physiques like Serge Nubret and Mohammed Makkaway, are examples.

Serge Nubret

Serge Nubret

Back in the day, a lot of top champions would train each muscle group twice a week, using a very high volume of work at each session. For example, Serge Nubret used the following split:

Day 1: Chest, quads, and abs
Day 2: Back, hamstrings, and abs
Day 3: Shoulders, arms, and abs
Day 4: Off
Day 5: Repeat

And he performed sets of 12 to 15 reps for 6 to 8 sets of 4 to 6 exercises per muscle group, resting one minute between sets for the upper body and two minutes between sets for the lower body (biceps and triceps were trained as a superset).

Some other splits could include:

Day 1: Chest, delts, triceps
Day 2: Quads and hams
Day 3: Back, biceps, rear delts
Day 4: Off
Day 5: Repeat

Or...

Day 1: Back and triceps
Day 2: Legs and shoulders
Day 3: Chest and biceps
Day 4: Off
Day 5: Repeat

These guys would routinely perform 16-20 sets per muscle group, sometimes more. While a lot of people (myself included) would say that an average Joe might not get optimum results from this form of training, the results of hundreds of champions from the past can't be dismissed.

Yes, some of these champions used drugs to enhance their training, but all around the world tens of thousands of gym rats are using steroids without being able to develop a physique remotely close to that of the high volume champs.

Methods you can use with this approach:

This approach (both a high frequency and a high volume of work) already represents a tremendous amount of stress on the body. In fact, only a few natural guys will be able to get away with it and grow properly.

So, adding intensive techniques isn't such a great idea since it'll probably lead to drastic overkill. Supersets for two opposing muscle groups (one biceps and one triceps exercise supersetted for example) is acceptable, but the natural trainee should keep it as simple as possible.

Pros and cons of this approach:

  • This type of training leads to great energy expenditure and metabolic increase due to the superhuman volume of work during the week. This is a PRO if you're trying to lose fat and don't want to perform any cardio work, but a CON if you're someone who has a hard time gaining size.
  • This type of training will induce a ton of micro-trauma to the muscles. If you're a recovery machine that can tolerate pretty much any type of physical work, or if you're chemically-enhanced, this is actually a PRO because it'll lead to more mass gain.
  • However, if you're natural and an average gainer (like 90% of the population), then this is a severe CON that will lead you to rapid stagnation and even a reduction in your gains.
  • Due to the high volume of work for each muscle group, this type of training can easily lead to tendonitis, especially at the elbow joint since this articulation is involved in almost every single training session. This is obviously a CON.
  • It allows you to use a wide variety of exercises for each muscle group, which minimizes the risk of developing a severe imbalance. This is a PRO (if you can recover from the volume).

hy or when should you use this approach?

The better question would be "who" should use this approach. This training approach is better suited for the genetic elite. Being on steroids won't hurt either!

Seriously though, including a short phase of super high volume training once or twice a year for four weeks isn't such a bad idea provided that you switch to a low-volume approach right afterward. You'll basically be inducing a state of overreaching (short term overtraining) during those four weeks and then will have an anabolic rebound when you change your approach to a low-volume one (let's call this the slingshot effect).

What are the most important supplements to use with this form of training?

You better use every single effective supplement in the book if you're training with this approach! Seriously, a post-workout drink like Surge is almost mandatory to help you recover. BCAA five to six times a day is also very effective at increasing your capacity to tolerate volume, and Flameout will help reduce the risk of tendonitis from the high volume of work.

Strategy #4: High Volume/Low Frequency

This is where most "regular" bodybuilding programs fall. Each muscle group is trained with a relatively high volume of work (12-20 sets per muscle group) but only once a week.

Sets are normally performed either in the total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps) or functional hypertrophy zone (6-8 reps). Around 3-4 sets of 2 to 5 exercises per muscle group are used with this form of training: larger, more complex muscle groups (chest, back, quads) being trained with more exercises (4-5) than smaller muscle groups (shoulders, triceps, biceps, hamstrings, calves) which are trained with 2-3 exercises.

At least one multi-joint movement per muscle group is used (up to two or three for larger muscle groups) and the isolation exercises should be selected to focus on a specific weak point within the muscle group.

Various different training splits can be used, including:

Day 1: Quads, hams, and calves
Day 2: Chest and back
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Shoulders and traps
Day 5: Biceps and triceps
Day 6: Abs and lower back
Day 7: Off

Or...

Day 1: Chest, shoulders, and triceps
Day 2: Quads and abs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Back, biceps, traps, and rear delts
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Hams, lower back, and calves
Day 7: Off

Or ...

Day 1: Quads and chest
Day 2: Back, lower back, hamstrings, and calves
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Shoulders, traps, and abs
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Biceps and triceps
Day 7: Off

Or ...

Day 1: Chest and biceps
Day 2: Quads, hams, and calves
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Back, lower back, and traps
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Shoulders, triceps, and abs
Day 7: Off

Methods you can use with this approach:

  • Regular lifting with your 6-8RM or 8-12RM
  • Rest-pause Perform a 6-8RM set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Double rest-pause Perform a 4-6RM (or 6-8RM) set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps, then rest 10-12 seconds and again perform a few more reps.
  • Single drop set Perform a 4-6RM (or 6-8RM) set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure.
  • Pre-fatigue Superset one isolation (8-12 reps) with one compound exercise (6-8 reps) for the same muscle group.
  • Post-fatigue Superset one compound (6-8 reps) with one isolation exercise (8-12 reps) for the same muscle group.
  • Antagonist superset (if training two opposing muscle groups in the same session) Superset one exercise for a muscle (e.g. chest) with one for its antagonist (e.g. back). Sets of 6-8 or 8-12 reps are performed.

Pros and cons of this approach:

  • It allows you to use a wide variety of exercises for each muscle group, which minimizes the risk of developing a severe imbalance: PRO.
  • You can create a lot of micro-trauma at each session which will represent an important training stimulus: PRO.
  • There's less neuromuscular improvements than with high frequency training because you're not training each muscle group very often: CON.
  • Some people won't give a maximum effort on all sets because they unconsciously want to pace themselves to be able to finish the workout: CON.
  • A higher volume of work allow for hypertrophy stimulation via the cumulative fatigue phenomenon as well as the stimulation of hGH release induced by the elevation of lactate levels: PRO.
  • If you wimp out during a training session and your workout isn't productive, then you have to wait a whole week before being able to stimulate that muscle again: CON.
  • Training fewer muscle groups per session allows you (compared to whole-body training) to train each muscle group with an equally high quality of effort, whereas with whole-body training the muscles being trained last won't be trained as hard: PRO.

Why or when should you use this approach?

This approach is better suited for individuals who already have built a decent muscular base through the use of basic training and decide to focus their efforts on maximizing their muscular development. If you're training for bodybuilding-type or aesthetic-type gains, this is the best approach most of the time.

What are the most important supplements to use with this form of training?

  • Surge post-workout to help with glycogen restoration and muscle growth.
  • BCAAs taken at 5g, five times per day
  • Beta-7
  • Creatine

Strategy #5: Moderate Volume/Moderate Frequency

This form of training is very common with athletes during their muscle-gaining phases and with powerlifters. In this system you train each muscle group and/or movement structure twice a week using a moderate training volume (6-12 sets) for each muscle group or movement structure. Bodybuilders can also use this approach, especially in strength phases.

The focus of this type of training is on the multi-joint exercises with the possible inclusion of some isolation work to prevent muscular imbalances and correct weak points. Since each muscle group/movement structure is trained twice a weak, it's possible to train different physical capacities at each session. For example:

Athletic Training (early off-season)

First workout of the week: Total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps)
Second workout of the week: Strength-endurance zone (12-15 reps)

Athletic Training (bulk of off-season)

First workout of the week: Absolute strength zone (4-6 reps)
Second workout of the week: Power training (explosive lifting, ballistic exercises, plyometrics)

Athletic Training (in-season)

First workout of the week: Power training (explosive lifting, ballistic exercises, but no plyometrics)
Second workout of the week: Endurance-strength/restoration work (15-20+ reps)

Powerlifting Training (early preparatory period)

First workout of the week: Absolute strength zone (4-6 reps)
Second workout of the week: Functional hypertrophy zone (6-8 reps)

Powerlifting Training (limit strength emphasis)

First workout of the week: Relative strength zone (1-3 reps)
Second workout of the week: Absolute strength zone (4-6 reps)

Powerlifting Training (strength-speed emphasis)

First workout of the week: Relative strength zone (1-3 reps)
Second workout of the week: Power training (explosive lifting, ballistic exercises, plyometrics)

Bodybuilding Training (strength emphasis)

First workout of the week: Absolute strength zone (4-6 reps)
Second workout of the week: Functional hypertrophy zone (6-8 reps)

Bodybuilding Training (hypertrophy emphasis)

First workout of the week: Functional hypertrophy zone (6-8 reps)
Second workout of the week: Total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps)

Bodybuilding Training (higher volume emphasis)

First workout of the week: Total hypertrophy zone (8-12 reps)
Second workout of the week: Strength-endurance zone (12-15 reps)

Some possible training splits are:

Athletic Training Split (can also be used for bodybuilding):

Day 1: Whole lower body
Day 2: Whole upper body
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Whole lower body
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Whole upper body
Day 7: Off

Powerlifting Split:

Day 1: Squat/deadlift emphasis
Day 2: Bench emphasis
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Squat/deadlift emphasis
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Bench emphasis
Day 7: Off

Bodybuilding Split:

Day 1: Quad dominant
Day 2: Upper body horizontal push and pull
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Hip dominant
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Upper body vertical push and pull
Day 7: Off

Bodybuilding Split 2:

Day 1: Whole lower body
Day 2: Upper body horizontal push and pull
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Whole lower body
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Upper body vertical push and pull
Day 7: Off

Methods you can use with this approach:

1 – During a relative or absolute strength session:

  • Regular lifting with 85-100% of your max (1-3 and 4-6 rep ranges)
  • Clusters Use 87-92% of your maximum and perform sets of 5 reps with 10 seconds of rest between reps.
  • Rest-pause Perform a 4-6RM set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Alternate sets Alternate sets of two exercises working different muscle groups with 60-90 seconds of rest between each exercise (not a superset).

2 – During a functional hypertrophy session:

  • Regular lifting with your 6-8RM
  • Rest-pause Perform a 6-8RM set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Double rest-pause Perform a 4-6RM set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps, then rest 10-12 seconds and perform a few more reps again.
  • Single drop set Perform a 4-6RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure.

3 – During a total hypertrophy session:

  • Regular lifting with your 8-12RM
  • Rest-pause Perform a 8-12RM set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Double rest-pause Perform a 6-8RM set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps, then rest 10-12 seconds and perform a few more reps again.
  • Single drop set Perform a 6-8RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure.

14 – During a strength-endurance and/or endurance-strength session:

  • Regular lifting with your 12-15RM or 15-20RM
  • Double drop set Perform a 8-12RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure, then reduce the load by 25% again and perform a few more reps.
  • Pre-fatigue Superset one isolation (8-12 reps) with one compound exercise (6-8 reps) for the same muscle group.
  • Post-fatigue Superset one compound (6-8 reps) with one isolation exercise (8-12 reps) for the same muscle group.
  • Pre and post-fatigue Superset one isolation (8-12 reps), one compound (6-8 reps), and one more isolation exercise (8-12 reps) for the same muscle group.

Pros and cons of this approach:

  • While not as effective for CNS improvements as frequent training, this approach still has a significant neural component to it: PRO (compared to infrequent training).
  • Easy to train several different training capacities during the same cycle: PRO.
  • You're training less muscle groups per session than with whole body training so each muscle group can be trained with better focus and effort: PRO (compared to whole body training).
  • While you can focus more on each muscle group/movement pattern than with a whole body approach, infrequent training (each muscle group) once a week is still superior in that regard: CON compared to infrequent training, PRO compared to whole body training
  • When training each muscle group twice a week you don't need to trash it as much as if you were training it only once a week. The increase in frequency compensates for the lower amount of work at each session (for a muscle group): PRO.
  • If you wimp out during a session, at least you have a second session during the week that will hit the same muscle group again: PRO.

Why or when should you use this approach?

Basically, this approach is a nice "middle of the road" system. It's not on top of any category of benefits, but it's never at the bottom of any downsides either. So for most gym rats, this strategy might be close to optimal under a lot of circumstances.

What are the most important supplements to use with this form of training?

  • Power Drive post-workout to help with CNS recovery (after heavy sessions)
  • Surge post-workout to help with glycogen restoration and muscle growth.
  • Beta-7 to help you thrive on the higher rep ranges (if you're using higher rep zones)
  • Creatine

Strategy #6: Low Volume/Low-to-Moderate Frequency with Gung-ho Intensity

This is the type of training espoused by guys like Dorian Yates, Lee Labrada, David Henry, and Marc Dugdale. It's a variant of the HIT system that keeps up the low volume and high intensiveness aspects but decreases the frequency of training per body part (once or twice a week instead of three times per week with traditional HIT programs).

The volume per muscle group is kept at a very low level, normally 1 or 2 work sets of 1-4 exercises per muscle groups are used (total of 2-8 sets per body part) and the work sets are normally taken beyond failure with the use of techniques such as rest-pause, drop-sets, forced reps, negative, static holds, and partial reps. The key is to induce a maximum amount of muscle micro-trauma during those last few sets and then let the body grow.

Some possible training splits are:

Yates Split:

Day 1: Shoulders, traps, triceps, abs
Day 2: Back, rear delts, lower back
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Chest, biceps, abs
Day 5: Quads, hamstrings, calves
Day 6: Off
Day 7: Off

Dugdale Split:

Day 1: Chest, biceps, calves
Day 2: Quads, abs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Back, hamstrings, abs
Day 5: Delts, triceps, calves
Day 6: Off
Day 7: Off

Some methods you can use with this approach are:

  • Rest-pause Perform a 8-12RM set; when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps.
  • Double rest-pause Perform a 6-8RM set, when you reach failure rest for 10-12 seconds and then perform a few more reps, then rest 10-12 seconds and perform a few more reps again.
  • Single drop set Perform a 6-8RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure.
  • Double drop set Perform a 8-12RM set, then reduce the load by 25% and perform reps to failure, then reduce the load by 25% again and perform a few more reps.
  • Forced reps Perform a 6-8RM (or 8-12RM) set; when you reach failure your partner assists you in completing 2-3 more reps.
  • Negatives Perform a 6-8RM (or 8-12RM) set; when you reach failure you perform 2-3 slow (5-6 seconds) negative/eccentric reps while your partner helps with the concentric portion.
  • Static hold Perform a 6-8RM (or 8-12RM) set; when you reach failure you hold the weight in place (mid-range or peak contraction depending on the movement) as long as possible.
  • Partial reps Perform a 6-8RM (or 8-12RM) set; when you reach failure you continue to perform partial reps to failure.

Pros and cons of this approach:

  • This method requires a very intense mental drive. Since you have so few sets to cause as much micro-trauma as possible, you can't afford to waste a set with sub-optimal effort: CON.
  • This type of training has a very good work-to-recovery ratio. For this reason it'll be very effective for those who have a low recovery capacity: PRO.
  • This form of training gives you a "do or die" attitude when used for a relatively long time. This will enhance any eventual training tasks you have to perform. In other words, when properly used, this system can make you tougher in the gym: PRO.
  • If you wimp out during a training session, not only will you have to wait a week to stimulate the muscle group again, but the low volume of work might constitute under-training (without the proper intensiveness level): CON.
  • Because of the low volume of work, there's little systemic fatigue accumulation and that allows you to give maximum effort on all work sets of every exercise: PRO.
  • This training approach doesn't have a large metabolic demand (compared to higher volume training): PRO for individuals with a fast metabolism who have problems gaining size, CON for those with a super slow metabolism.
  • Since each set is taken to very deep levels of effort, it can become hard on the CNS, joints, and tendons over time: CON (if you don't listen to your body).

Why or when should you use this approach?

I like this form of training, especially when it's alternated with phases of a relatively high volume work (strategies four and five). When used that way, it allows the body to continue gaining while acquiring some mental fortitude that'll enhance your future training phases.

I also like this approach with individuals with a lightening fast metabolism. Because of the "gung-ho" nature of the program, this approach is also well suited to hyper-active individuals who can give a superhuman effort for a short period of time but who get bored easily.

What are the most important supplements to use with this form of training?

  • Spike to give you an energy boost prior to your session, thus ensuring that you'll give a maximum effort (which is mandatory for the success of this approach).
  • Power Drive post-workout to help with CNS recovery
  • Surge post-workout is still very important, but it isn't as important as with higher volume strategies since there's less glycogen depletion. A single serving will do.
  • Beta-7 to help you thrive on the extended set techniques
  • Creatine

Conclusion

This is in no way a complete guide to all the training systems available, but most of them can be placed in one of the preceding categories. As you can see, any of these systems will work provided that these three elements are present:

  1. Progression (challenge yourself, try to improve at every single session)
  2. Effort
  3. Dedication

However, each of these strategies has its pros and cons that make it better suited for some situations/objectives. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of a training approach will allow you to better select the one suited to your needs and objectives. It'll also help you plan out how to alternate these approaches to stimulate long-term progress.

Remember, muscle growth and strength improvements are a long journey, and it's best to have several "means of transportation" to help you reach your final destination!