Volume Training for the Genetically Typical Trainee

Most people that follow popular bodybuilding are aware that the large majority of the pro’s use a training protocol aptly termed “volume training”. It’s called volume training because you do a LOT of it—9-20 sets a bodypart. Unlike HIT training where each set is done with extreme intensity, volume training is done with…well….less than extreme intensity.

The old saying that “you can train hard, or you can train long, but you can’t train long and hard (and we’re not talking about porn star training here) really is spot-on. Show me someone that says they are doing 12 working sets per bodypart at high intensity levels and I’ll show you a liar or a SEVERELY overtrained person that is making ZERO progress on their lifts.

So in order to get through the many, many sets to be completed, sets are terminated long before failure. There is nothing wrong with this type of training except for the fact that the vast majority of trainees make little or no progress doing it. WAY too much work being done WAY to frequently for Joe average to recover from. What to do? Well as everyone reading this no doubt knows I advocate HIT/Hardgainer training as the best way for people with average genetics to make progress. Well, what if you gave HIT a try and it didn’t work for you, or at least not as well as you would have liked? Mike Mentzer used to state that HIT was unequivocally the best way for everyone to train, and to that I state BULL****! While I do believe it’s the fastest and only way for most BB’s to achieve their goals, I also know it doesn’t work for everyone.

If volume training doesn’t work because of too much workload and if HIT doesn’t work for whatever reason for you (I’ll go into details about potential causes in another article) where does this leave you? With Hardgainer volume training! I won’t call it HIT because the intensity just isn’t that high compared to a typical HIT routine.
The frequency will stay the same as with a HIT/Hargainer routine. That means being in the gym twice a week, three times a week, three times in 9 days, or even less, NO MORE FREQUENTLY! Without going into a lot more discussion about routine structure I’ll just outline a few routines and let the routines do the talking.

This is a fairly traditional “volume” hardgainer routine in the 5 x 5 format. There are a couple of ways to do it, how well you recover will determine which works best for you. The first way is to do your warm-ups and then do 5 sets of 5 reps with a weight that allows you to get all your reps for every set, although the last rep of set 5 should be BARELY made. If you only get 3-4 reps repeat with the same poundage next week, If you get all your reps go up in weight next week. The other way is to do the first two sets as a warm-up and the last 2 sets of 5 as your work sets. The trouble with this is if you are say, squatting 365 for 5, two sets of 5 reps will NOT get you warm enough to complete your work sets. In this case it’s best to do a couple warm-ups and have the first two sets of 5 at a lower weight. Routine layout could be:

Bench Press 5 x 5
Military Press 5 x 5
Bench or Regular Dips 5 x 5

Squat 5 x 5
Stiff Legged Deadlift 5 x 5
Calf Raise 5 x 5

Chins 5 x 5
Bent Rows 5 x 5
Barbell Curls 5 x 5

Here is a 3 times in seven, or for some in nine days routine I have had work well with a quite a few trainees. Make sure the weight is light enough to make all your target reps. Only the last couple reps of the LAST set should be extremely hard reps.

Day One
Dips 5 x 12
Incline Bench Press’s 3 x 12
Military Press 4 x 10

Day Two
Chin or Pull-Down 5 x 12
Row 3 x 12
Hammer Curl 3 x 10

Day Three
Squat 4 x 10
Stiff-legged Deadlift 3 x 10
Standing Calf Raise 4 x 15

Here is a Routine to be done 3 days a week or 3 times in 9 days. Every rotation (meaning the following week) the lifts change. Again only the last couple of reps of the LAST set will be extremely hard to complete.

Day One
Bench Press 4 x 10
Dips 4 x 10
Lateral Raise 4 x 10

Day Two
Pull-Ups 4 x 10
Bent Row or Hammer Row 4 x 10
Barbell or Dumbell Curl 3 x 10

Day Three
Squats 4 x 8
Stiff Legged Deadlift 3 x 8
Weighted Abs 4x 15

Day One, Week Two
Incline Dumbell Press 4 x 8
Military Press 4x 8
Tricep Push-Downs 4 x 8

Day Two, Week Two
Wide Grip Pull-Ups or Pull-Downs 4 x 8
Dumbell Curls 4 x 12
Rack Pulls 3 x 10

Day Three, Week Two
Hanging Leg Raises 4 x 15
Leg Curl 2 x 15
Leg Extension 2 x 15
Leg Press 3 x 10

If you are an EXTREME hardgainer and NOTHING else has worked try this:

Day One
Deadlift, Conventional or Trap Bar 3 x 10
Lateral Raises 4 x 10

Day two
Bench Press or Dips 4 x 10
Close Grip Pull-up or Pull-Downs 4 x 10

There you go, again I recommend these routines if you have REALLY tried a few variations of HIT/Hardgainer training and they didn’t work, or if you need a break from what your doing and need to try something different.

Iron Addict