Volume Training is for the Weak and Lazy (+Free 3 Week Program)

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We’ve all been there before. Bag in hand, headphones hanging out of our shirts, walking out of the gym thinking “I could have done more”. It’s a disappointing thought, especially for those of us who live and die by our training.  This is because you suck at exercise, your brain is weak, and you have the work ethic of a 12 year old girl.  You fall into this category if you routinely replace sled work, sprints, front squats and farmer’s walks with bicep curls, leg extensions, and abs on a BOSU ball.

I do a lot of Max HR testing using versions of the Bruce protocols. This involves increasing the speed and incline of a treadmill until the subject willingly says that they are at an exertion level of 10, and cannot continue the exercise.

What is interesting and true across the board for everyone I’ve ever tested, regardless of fitness level, whether they are an all American NCAA athlete, professional golfers average Joes or soccer moms, after they get off the treadmill and their heart rate stops sounding like a dubstep remix, they all say the same thing. “I could have done more, but…”

A few of the trainers I work with are infuriated by this remark, but I think this is a mark of being human….. A mentally weak human.

This plays into program design as well. For years, the internet forums have been ravaged by the battle between philosophies and paradigms, especially the high volume vs. high intensity crowds. Those who disagreed with the newest training protocol on either side were branded arm chair experts, and dismissed as having a bad case of imaginary lat syndrome.

…among other problems.

I won’t bash high volume training, because the research is there. It works. However, if you’re interested in faster workouts, increased testosterone, rapid muscle gain, and receiving daily emails from women that want to bear your children, you might want to think about increasing the intensity of your workouts. For most of us, the only way we know how to increase the intensity is by increasing the volume.

I’m here to tell you that by shifting your program to train your brain to quit bitching out when it gets tough, you can make devastating progress in the long run.

Let’s look at an extreme example of each style of training.

Chris Gethin’s DTP training program. Leg Day looks like this:

Leg Press x 50
Superset with leg press calf raise x 40

Leg Press x 40
Superset with leg press calf raise x 30

Leg Press x 30
Superset with leg press calf raise x 20

Leg Press x 20
Superset with leg press calf raise x 10

Leg Press x 10
Superset with leg press calf raise x 10

Leg Press x 10
Superset with leg press calf raise x 10

Leg Press x 20
Superset with leg press calf raise x 10

Leg Press x 30
Superset with leg press calf raise x 20

Leg Press x 40
Superset with leg press calf raise x 30

Leg Press x 50
Superset with leg press calf raise x 40

5 sets of max reps of weighted sit-ups.[3]

This is 520 reps of just leg movements, which straddles the border between masochistic and totally batshit crazy, like John Travolta at a Las Vegas massage convention.

Before and after this three week program.

Pros

Don’t have to focus, just do all the reps.

Generally will increase HR

Hard to walk up stairs after finishing

Cons

Destroys your knees

Hard to increase weight

Promotes half reps/cheating reps

Long workouts.

A lower volume higher intensity approach to training can be done using 1-2 sets of maximum reps with a certain weight, and striving to beat the total work done every time that workout is performed. A prime example would be Dante Trudel’s DC training protocol.

Biceps: preacher bench barbell curl RP for 14 reps and 30 second static
Forearms: hammer curls straight set for 15 reps (then stretches for biceps)
Calves: on hack squat straight set for 12 reps but with a 20 second negative phase
Hamstrings: Cybex hamstring press (pressing with heels up top) Rest pause for 20 reps
Quads: hack squat straight for 20 reps (after warming up) [1]

Dante himself does a great job of describing the intensity that must be present for this type of training to be effective:

“Personally, if I do a 20 rep hack squat with slag iron heavy weights….at 10 reps I am seriously doubting I am going to make it—at 14 reps I’m seeing colours—at 17 reps IM asking God for help–and the last 3 reps are life, death, or rigor mortis—I know for a fact that there is no way in hell I could do another 4-5 sets of hacks like that.” [4]

Pros

Maximum Muscle Stimulation

Mental strength developed and maintained

Speed of workout

Promotes feelings of badassery

Cons

Too easy if you intensity rivals your little sisters ballet practice

Feelings of not having done enough

No room for excuses.

For someone looking to gain size, and strength and barring all other variables, a high intensity training protocol offers you the most bang for your buck. However, there are only a select group of people that can just start a program like this with any success. These are not the genetically gifted, or the guys who can put on size by just wearing ankle weights and masturbating frequently. The guys who can do a program like this are mentally strong individuals, the guys who are consistently doing things that “can’t be done” For an example of this, look no further than Matt Kroc. [2]

You don’t gain the mental strength necessary to do a program like DC, or any decent program by indulging in your company’s pizza day every Friday and by flirting with the Men’s Health “GUNZ” training. Building this foundation require something better. Yet so much worse. So let’s start by training your weakest muscle; your brain.

Short of going into your backyard and attempting to drown yourself in your Jacuzzi just to prove you can do anything you set your mind too, this is the best plan for building the mental strength required to start a high intensity program, or any program at all. If you can’t sack up and do 100 burpees without stopping, you have no right to front squat.

Here’s a three week program that is designed to show you what it feels like to train hard. If you can’t finish this the first time through, don’t worry. Once you can finish this in its entirety, congratulations, you’re ready to unlock your mental potential and destroy any training session that you find yourself encountering in the future.

This program will hurt. You will suck at it. It will build your upper back, shoulders, and core strength beyond anything you have ever done before. It will increase your aerobic capacity. Most of all, it will prepare you physically and mentally to do anything you would like, whether high intensity, high volume, or just plain ridiculous, you will be ready to spit in its face and make it call you daddy.

You’ll need a training log and a stopwatch for this program. Record weights and times.

If you take unneeded breaks, drop the weights, or deviate from this program at all, for each infraction, add 25 burpees at the end of the workout.

To begin, we’ll use a simple circuit to gauge your current mental strength. Do this before you begin this program, and record the amount of rounds you completed before you stopped or rested. If you take more time than is necessary between exercises, sit down, or take a break other than the 30 seconds, that’s it. Stop the timer, and record how far you got. After you finish this program, take 4 days off to recover, and repeat this test.

Bench Press 70-75% max x10

Goblet Squat 50%BW x 10

Pull Ups x 10

KB Swings 50% Goblet Squat weight x 25

30 second break à repeat

Week 1

Monday

AM

Plank max time.

PM

A. Front Squat 3×8 1 second hold at bottom

45 sec rest

B. DB Bulgarian Split Squat 50% of front squat weight

1 x max reps. 30 second break between legs

C1. DB Row x 10, 15, 20 (same weight) (no straps)

C2. Front lever 3x max hold

Wednesday

AM

Wheel (hands behind your head, feet on ground pushing into back bend)

PM

A. Treadmill Run

1 min x 6 incline 6 mph

1 min x 7 incline 7 mph

1 min x 8 incline 8 mph

Rest until HR is down

B. Trap bar DL 3×8

C. Military/Push press. Set 1, max reps strict form. Set 2: 1.5x reps from set 1 with strict form, using push press when necessary Set 3. 2x reps from set 1, all push press.

60 seconds rest between sets

D1. Pull-up hold at top x 60 seconds

D2. Barbell Bi Curl x 10, 15, 20. No setting weights down.

Friday

AM

Side Plank Max Time

PM

A. Man Maker (renegade Row + stand up + Overhead press) x 30 No dropping weights. If necessary, rest in plank

Rest as long as necessary

B. Farmer Walk x 100ft, 200ft, 300 ft (same weight)

C. DB Row (use same weight from Monday, and use straps) no dropping weight, 1×50

D. Spin bike intervals 10 seconds as fast as possible 20 seconds slow/rest for 10 minutes.

Week 2

Monday

AM

Plank max time from week 1 +1 minute

PM

A. Front Squat 3×8 1 second hold at bottom

45 sec rest

B. DB Bulgarian Split Squat 50% of front squat weight

1 x max reps. 30 second break between legs

C1. DB Row x 10, 15, 20 (+5 lbs from week 1) (no straps)

C2. Front lever 3x max hold + 15 seconds from week 1

Wednesday

AM

Wheel (hands behind your head, feet on ground pushing into back bend) + 20 seconds

PM

A. Treadmill Run

1 min x 6.5 incline 6.5 mph

1 min x 7.5 incline 7.5 mph

1 min x 8.5 incline 8.5 mph

Rest until HR is down

B. Trap bar DL 3×8

C. Military/Push press. Set 1, max reps strict form. Set 2: 1.5x reps from set 1 with strict form, using push press when necessary Set 3. 2x reps from set 1, all push press.

60 seconds rest between sets

D1. Pull-up hold at top x 75 seconds

D2. Barbell Bi Curl x 10, 15, 20. No setting weights down.

Friday

AM

Side Plank Max Time + 30 seconds

PM

A. Man Maker (renegade Row + stand up + Overhead press) x 30 No dropping weights. If necessary, rest in plank

Rest as long as necessary

B. Farmer Walk x 150ft, 250ft, 350 ft (same weight)

C. DB Row (use same weight from Monday, and use straps) no dropping weight, 1×50

D. Spin bike intervals 10 seconds as fast as possible 20 seconds slow/rest for 12 minutes.

Week 3

Monday

AM

Plank max time from week 1 +2 minute

PM

A. Front Squat 3×8 1 second hold at bottom

45 sec rest

B. DB Bulgarian Split Squat 50% of front squat weight

1 x max reps. 30 second break between legs

C1. DB Row x 10, 15, 20 (+5 lbs from week 2) (no straps)

C2. Front lever 3x max hold + 15 seconds from week 2

Wednesday

AM

Wheel (hands behind your head, feet on ground pushing into back bend) + another 20 seconds

PM

A. Treadmill Run

1 min x 7 incline 7 mph

1 min x 8 incline 8 mph

1 min x 9 incline 9 mph

Rest until HR is down

B. Trap bar DL 3×8

C. Military/Push press. Set 1, max reps strict form. Set 2: 1.5x reps from set 1 with strict form, using push press when necessary Set 3. 2x reps from set 1, all push press.

60 seconds rest between sets

D1. Pull-up hold at top x 90 seconds

D2. Barbell Bi Curl x 10, 15, 20. No setting weights down.

Friday

AM

Side Plank Max Time + another 30 seconds

PM

A. Man Maker (renegade Row + stand up + Overhead press) x 30 No dropping weights. If necessary, rest in plank

Rest as long as necessary

B. Farmer Walk x 200ft, 300ft, 400 ft (same weight)

C. DB Row (use same weight from Monday, and use straps) no dropping weight, 1×50

D. Spin bike intervals 10 seconds as fast as possible 20 seconds slow/rest for 15 minutes.

References:

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/how_to_build_50_pounds_of_muscle_in_12_months

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/the_five_tools_of_mental_strength_aka_balls

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/kris-gethin-dtp-training.html

http://www.scribd.com/doc/102726637/Doggcrapp-Training

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