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Varun Kaushik
Varun Kaushik

Hey Andy, If you were counting a chin-up towards your weekly bicep volume and bench press towards you weekly tricep volume, would you count those movements as a 0.5 set or 1? I was following the RP model which focused on 0.5:1 (Secondary:Primary) basis of counting for each muscle group, but in MSP and James Krieger Volume bible it’s stated as 1:1 basis. It creates so much confusion as if I implement the RP style then I get a lot of direct isolation work (arms, delts etc.) in my workout plan, whereas if I follow the MSP and Krieger style then it takes away most of the direct work.

What is your opinion on this and what’s a better way for most of the general population clients?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Varun, thanks for the question.

Mike has his RP volume counting guidelines that fit his program building and programming guidelines.

We have our volume counting guidelines that fit our program building and programming guidelines.

The issue isn’t that they’re different or one is better than the other, it’s that you’re trying to mix the two. This is like trying to build a Mercedes using a BMW build manual, or a car using a hybrid of the parts. — It’s not going to work. But there is no disputing the fact that both make great standalone cars.

Michael Bested
Michael Bested

Hi Andy I find the way you count sets per musclegroups to be very confusing. In the Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid book, first sample routine page 92-93 you count biceps to 12 sets although the routine has 12 sets total for back and 6 for biceps. The same goes for triceps. I would count those to 18 sets as the book says under description for back and chest that they work the bicep and tricep.I would really like to understand this as this would help me in building my own program

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Michael, at the top of page 93 it says: “As far as volume, there are 15 sets for glutes, 13 sets for chest, quads, and hams, 18 sets for biceps and 19 for triceps, and 12–16 sets for the delts, depending on which head (anterior, middle or rear) you are talking about.”

Michael Bested
Michael Bested

I have “As far as volume, there are 15
sets for glutes, 13 sets for chest, quads, and hams, 12 sets for biceps
and triceps, and 12–16 sets for the delts, depending on which head
(anterior, middle or rear) you are talking about”

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Gotcha. Thought this was a familiar question. We updated that bit after someone pointed it out. Update your copy by clicking “Support” » “Update your copies” in the menu.

Full update log here. I’ll add that to the menu now. Thank you for the idea.

Claudio Alarcon
Claudio Alarcon

Hi Andy, for a natural stalemate, what do you recommend? My training is T / P 4 times a week, my diet is a normocaloric with 14% fat, I do not want to make volume because I am very good at raising more fat than mass. Thank you for your advice, Greetings from Chile.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Claudio, thank you for the question, greetings from Tokyo, Japan.

Two articles that address stagnation from both the diet and training sides:

How to Break Training Plateaus [Decision Tree & Checklist]
Should I Cut or Bulk? The Definitive Guide

Tee
Tee

To accelerate / jump start fat loss, any benefit to training legs 3x / week with some other lifts mixed in (push & pull), but making the main focus legs? I’ve read varying the volume by session (ie. 5×5, then 3×8-12, then 3×15-20) is best. The idea supposedly is legs expend the most energy and will burn the most body fat. I’ve read people trying this for 2-3 months. Thoughts? Thanks!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

No. Strength training is there to tell the body to hang onto muscle while dieting. You want enough training volume to do that, without being more than you can recover from.

A calorie deficit is what leads to fat loss and FAR the most efficient way to achieve that is through dietary control. The calorie burn from additional training is so small that it won’t make any meaningful difference to the weekly balance, but it could certainly put you in a recovery deficit, leading to burn-out or injury. Don’t mix the two.

Teo
Teo

Hi Andy, I was doing a 4-day split but I’m busy with school. What do you think about doing the same routine but only 3 days a week so that the 4-week mesocycle becomes a 5-week mesocycle? This way I don’t want to change the routine.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Teo,

Better to re-organize the routine across the three gym sessions you have time for each week. Otherwise, you’re effectively cutting weekly volume by 25% which could kill your progress.

Teo
Teo

Thank you Andy

Tobias Schneider
Tobias Schneider

Hi guys,
I’ve got several questions:
1. You always talk about the recommended amount of sets, but isn’t the total volume per week much more important?
2. My ideal plan would look like this: 2 full body workouts and then upper, lower. Is it possible to perform the same exercises on each day using different rep ranges? Let’s say I’d do two volume days with 8-12 reps and 1 strength-based with 3-6 reps. So I would be hitting Squats, Bench Press and other exercises 3 times a week, but with different volume and intensity.
3. I would like to incorporate bench press and weighted dips. Is it possible to do them both (in the same workout) in the routine I mentioned above?
Thanks in advance!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Tobias, thank you for the questions.

1. There are a few ways to measure volume. In the first edition of our book (which is where the recommendations in this article from), we gave volume recommendations as reps per body part per week. This was based on a 12-year old systematic review (Wernbom 2007) on training volume that looked at reps per body part, per week.

The more current meta-analyses we have today are based on ‘hard sets’ per body part/movement per week, so that’s why we present volume in this way.

2. Sure.

3. Yes, but the proof of any pudding is in the tasting. (Try it, see how you do, adjust if necessary.)

Tobias Schneider
Tobias Schneider

Thanks a lot for your answers! Really helped me… I’ll definetly give it a try and see if it works for me. I just got one more question, which exercise do you personally favor, the Bench Press or the Dips? Are there any studies showing which of these builds more muscle?
Sorry btw for my bad english grammar skills, I am from Austria…

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

The Bench Press.

Dips are a great chest and triceps developer, and it feels awesome to have a couple of plates clanging between your legs as you knock out a few sets of 8, but the risk-reward ratio is skewed in the wrong direction I feel.

What I mean is, it’s very easy to cause yourself an injury with this exercise, especially as you start adding a lot of weight. If you go too deep once, or a little too deep often, this can lead to shoulder issues that can mess with the rest of your pushing exercises.

When there are safer alternatives that are equally effective (pushups, the close-grip bench press), I see no point in taking the risk with dips. I no longer do them myself, and I no longer recommend them to clients.

Neil
Neil

Hi! I’m interested in doing a 5 day Full Body routine but not sure where to start. Looking to bring up my Back, Lateral Delts and Triceps (Long head) but I don’t know how to organize doing this. Any idea what would be best to do?

Many thanks!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Neil, thank you for the question.

Right, so I take it you’re looking for a smarter answer here then the classic, “do more,” which is often correct, but there’s clearly nuance to it.

1. First thing’s first, if you’re a novice (I don’t know you, this isn’t a judgment), you have no specific weak points, everything is weak, just train.

2. If what you have been doing up until now differs considerably from our guidelines here, I’d start with setting up a program as if you didn’t have any weak points, giving it a good go, and seeing what the next three months bring. Often, when proper programming is implemented (like when proper form is implemented), fucked things un-fuck themselves.

3. If after that you find that these areas haven’t grown to your liking, taper off the volume in the areas you are happy with and add to the areas you are not, on a set-for-set swap basis. This isn’t the only way to do it, but it’s not a bad place to start.

Make sense? Note that I’m purposefully not getting into the specifics of exercise selection here to keep this as something everyone can benefit from as the principles apply to all.

Paul
Paul

Hi Andy, Wasnt the original recommendations from the books in reps and not sets; why the change?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Paul! Yes, I’ve written up the reasons in the last item on the FAQ page.

Julian
Julian

Hey Andy,

Just had a question on how to incorporate RPE regulation with wave loading. Would placing an RPE cap on weight increases work?
For example
3x8x100 kg @ 8 for Week 1
Then increase the weight 5-10% from last weeks weight as long as it stays within a certain RPE range like 7-8?

Thanks

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Julian, yes. You’ll see in our sample programs that we recommend fixing the first set RPE to control fatigue.

Sascha
Sascha

Hi,

I have a question regarding volume.

If I understand, volume goes up with training age, meaning that an advanced lifter would have many muscle group frequency to be able to spread out that weekly volume.

I’ve read the contrary a lot. Meaning that beginner lifters can hit muscle groups often as they don’t manage to “damage” the muscles due to lack of recruitment.

Pro bodybuilders often use a once per week per muscle group split to allow a recovery due to “deep” muscle recruitment and tiredness.

I’m intermediate and getting confused on if I should train more frequently or less. Seems like I had better results doing back/bis ; chest/tri ; legs 1/week rather than all 2/week.

Thanks!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Sascha,

For natural trainees, the current state of the scientific literature is fairly clear that hitting each muscle group more than once per week will likely lead to better results. I stand by the recommendations in this guide.

John
John

Hi Andy – first just wanted to say thank you for all of the great information you have here on your site and taking the time to answer questions people may have. It is really appreciated!

I was curious if you had an opinion on “resensitization” phases. Basically a month or so off from high volume hypertrophy training in an attempt to resensitize your body to the effects of high volume training. This is recommended by the folks over at RP. They have deloads in between each high volume Mesocycle and then run the resensitization afterwards.

Would you apply those as well if you chose to build a program following your guide here or is that kind of what the deloads are hoping to solve?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi John, thanks for the comment.

It’s not a strategy I typically use with clients, so I’m not familiar enough to add anything meaningful to what Mike will have already said about it.

Serdar
Serdar

Hi I just read your 6 step guide to building training programs. First of all, thank you! Most programs are designed in a symmetrical manner, either full body or push-pull-legs with appropriate rest days in between. I would like to build my program on a Tuesday-Thursday-Friday-Saturday schedule (weird, I know). I was thinking a full body Tuesday and push-pull-legs on consecutive days (th-fr-sa). Do you think that’s an appropriate program for hypertrophy? Do you have a better suggestion? Thanks again!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Sedar, please refer to the four day split recommendations.

Alejandro Vásquez Morales
Alejandro Vásquez Morales

Hi Andy, if I’m following your intermediate bodybuilding program is it a good idea to repeat the same exercise for each movement pattern? Let’s say for horizontal push I do barbell bench press two times a week, and for vertical pull I choose the lat pull down machine, again, two times a week. Or should I choose two different exercises? I couldn’t find the answer on the article or the training book, thank you in advance.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Alejandro. Stick to one movement for any lifts you need to build technique proficiency on.

So, if you’re well-versed in bench, feel free to use another horizontal push like DB presses on your other day(s). But if your squat could use work, don’t use another variation, just work on that.

Robert Przybyłowicz
Robert Przybyłowicz

I have a question about minimal volume for hypertrophy when we only have 3 days per week. If we would like to do FBW 3 times a week and then we would take one exercise for movement pattern from your hypertrophy exercise and muscle group trained table we would have 8 exercises plus isolation.
But let’s skip isolation and fly movement pattern and we stay with 7 exercises. Now to reach a minimum of 10 sets per muscle group/movement per week we would need to do 3 sets of each exercises per training (that would give 9 in total). If we have 7 exercises with 3 sets with some of them compound and with high RPE we are looking at at least 1,5h in gym. How can we increase volume without adding day?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Robert, thanks for the question.

You have to train longer.

The problem with this is that training quality typically degrades as the training session gets longer. This is where what you can do — train only three days — dissects with what you should do — add a day.

Michel Brok
Michel Brok

Hi Andy, for already a long time I’m using your website and articles to setup my own trainingsprogram.

What I’m struggling with, are the 4 and the 5 days program, especially because I want to move from novice to intermediate. It is very difficult for me to add another day, I tried but a busy job, family etc, it’s not really easy to add another day, and when I did it was quite stressfull. Could I still do a 5 day program and spread them for instance over 2 weeks? So just continuing the program in the new weak where you left? Or should I really focus on a 3 day program and try to increase working volume in the days I train

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Michel!

Better to put the volume you need into the time you have, which is four days. Just put the compound exercises of the last two days we have in our Intermediate Bodybuilding Sample Program together into one.

Rob
Rob

If I choose neutral grip dumbbell incline press in the novice bodybuilding routine instead of an overhand grip, will my side delts still get enough work as a novice?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Rob,

You’re forcing me into a few assumptions here. The short answer is yes.

If you’re substituting this for a vertical press, you can expect the overall shoulder activation (all three heads of the delts) to be slightly lower: the further you angle it toward horizontal; the lower it will be. Note though, there is still activation, even with horizontal pressing, and this is not the only exercise that will train your shoulders (yes, all three heads), because there is also activation with your pulling exercises.

Thus, whether this will make a meaningful difference to development at this stage is questionable.

Further, I assume you’ve substituted this exercise because it feels better, right? I do something similar. My shoulders just don’t like to go vertically anymore, so I press with an angle. So, the decision is made and it’s not worth worrying about anyway.

Julian
Julian

Hi, if on a routine some movement is being progressed with the novice progression, when deloading other movements is it wise to keep progressing first movement if the target reps are being completed week to week or deloding all the routine regardless of the progression scheme of particular exercises

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Julian,

If you feel run down, deload everything (as this will dump fatigue globally). Otherwise, deload just what the progression calls for.

Jay
Jay

Hi,

With regards to flexible training days; if I’m training 5 days a week. Is it detrimental for these to be Mon-Fri and have weekends off? Or should I do 3 training day, rest and then the remaining two?

I understand this would be down to recovery but I’m always tempted to head to the gym on non training days to try and get ahead on my program. This would be just in case I’m not able to fit a session in the following week; so in theory’ I won’t be behind.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

It likely be a little better for recovery to split things up, but if that’s not an option I wouldn’t worry about it.

Matheus
Matheus

Any reason why the recommended frequency for intermediates are 3-4x/week and the sample routine is 2x week?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Matheus, thanks for asking.

2+/week is the training frequency recommendation per muscle group or movement pattern. The training frequency we’re referring to in this table (which I think is where your confusion comes from) is the total training sessions per week.

Training frequency clarification.

Michael
Michael

Hi Andy this also confused me. The Intermediate sample is 5 days because of the volume but according to this diagram is should be between 3-4 days

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Ahh, I see why you’re confused. In The Intermediate Bodybuilding Program example we give an example of a 5-day split. If you look at “The Hypertrophy Matrix for Choosing Splits” you’ll see options for splitting your workouts and you’ll see it comes from there.

This summary table is more with the powerlifting programs in mind. I’ll have a talk with Eric about how we might reword it. Thank you.

Jay
Jay

Hey Andy
Long time lurker and a big fan here.
Question: how should I approach my goal of explosive lower body for sports and male model physique for upper body? Somehow mix your bodybuilding and powerlifting programs for UB and LB accordingly ?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Jay,

This isn’t really my area of expertise, but…

To become ‘explosive’ you need to practice explosive techniques. Contrary to the name, power lifts don’t train power but strength. (You can see from looking at them, they’re not explosive, right?)

So, while becoming bigger and stronger will allow you to become more powerful (and that is what I would suggest novices focus on first, regardless), there still need to be practice to optimize it.

Think of it as like modifying your car to jack up the horsepower and corner well, you still need to practice the skill of driving to be fast.

So then there comes a question of what might be a suitable power technique for your sport.

A power clean and box jumps apply to most, but there are many more sport-specific ones. Back in my Aikido days, the first 5 minutes of every session was spent leaping explosively forward and taking people down with the web of the hand to the chin/throat.

Circling back, you can mix the two, yes, but consider adding in some sport-specific power work and know that this may require you to cut volume a little for the lower leg power lifts and possibly the deadlift if you add power cleans.

Jay
Jay

Just as I thought. 😀
And yes, fortunately I’m very familiar with plyometrics and Olympic lifts. I’ll try to mix your programs a bit.
Good stuff, thanks mate.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Most welcome, Jay.

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