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Please keep questions on topic, write clearly, concisely, and don't post diet calculations.

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Andrew
Andrew
May 16, 2020 17:01

Great article!

There is however one little thing that is not clear to me, hopefully you can clarify:
You mentioned in the rest section that if we don’t have much time, we can use rest pause sets. I am not really pressed on time, but love the idea to complete a workout in less time.

Now, I wonder, when we can complete an equally effective workout in less time, why do we not always do rest pause sets instead of straight sets? (Maybe with the exception of heavy squats and deadlifts because that’s probably too exhausting, but I am only doing Bulgarian split squats and single leg RDLs anyway)

Are straight sets more effective (for muscle growth) after all? Or what could be the reason?

Andy Morgan
Admin
Andy Morgan
May 17, 2020 07:04
Reply to  Andrew

Hi Andrew, thanks for the question.

My co-author Eric actually released this article — “How can rest-pause/Myo reps and long rest periods BOTH be optimal for hypertrophy?” — last week which covers it. I’ll paste the conclusion and takeaway points, but the whole thing is worth a read:

This leads us to our final revision of our logical conclusion: whatever rest period allows for the theoretical “optimal” number of sets of at least ~5-6 reps, above ~30-40% of 1RM, at a sufficient proximity to muscle failure, so long as reductions in reps and load are primarily due to local rather than central fatigue, should be ideal for hypertrophy.

Is this the definitive answer to the question? Probably, but it’s possible something else might be going on. But as a hypothesis, it’s a pretty solid one that fits the data, is logical, and squares with anecdotal observations and experience.

The practical take-homes are as follows:

  • For compounds that train a lot of muscle mass, rest sufficiently so that you don’t generate a ton of cardiometabolic fatigue.
  • Only use short rest, rest-pause, high-rep, drop, and failure sets on non-tiring isolation exercises.
  • If you’re in great shape, you may get away with shorter rest periods but:
  • – To save time without hurting your gains, gradually acclimate to shorter rest periods over multiple sessions/weeks. Indeed, in two studies, a group resting 2 minutes grew similarly to a group gradually decreasing rest from 2 minutes by 15s per week, to eventually resting 30s between sets.
  • – You can also save time with antagonist paired sets. These are performed with short rest intervals after each exercise as one muscle group rests while you train the other (alternate an upper body push set with a pull, leg extensions followed by curls, etc.). This can be done with 30s to 1 min between sets. But, for compound push/pulls (vs bis/tris, or leg extension/curls), you need to be in good cardiovascular shape. Data shows this approach won’t compromise performance (if anything it might aid it).
Michael
Michael
April 23, 2020 04:56

Would you alter anything about design to accommodate resistance band-only (plus chin ups) training? Or give advice to someone wanting to use that as a primary method of hypertrophy?

I have a selection of bands that provide resistance from 5 kg up to 170 kg (and will buy more).
I’m late intermediate/ lowadvanced long-term trainee.
I’ve toyed with a few programs on my own but nothing feels “right” or gives too much fatigue. For example the couple of weeks of myo-rep band stuff just smashed me.

Ideally something like 4 days full-body. Would I do something like 4 sets per muscle 4 times a week rising to 5. What RPE though? Hinge I can load HEAVYl. Squat pattern mostly single leg split squats.

Andy Morgan
Admin
Andy Morgan
April 23, 2020 08:43
Reply to  Michael

Hi Michael, I have an article on that here: How To Adapt Your Training Program For Home. You’ll find lots of videos I filmed using resistance bands too.

As for finding the right volume: let’s say you swapped the exercises and sets like as I describe in that guide and you’re very sore.

Soreness when doing any new exercise is natural and shouldn’t be taken a sign that what you’re doing is inappropriate. It takes a few sessions for the repeated bout effect to kick in and for this to subside.

(A band row, for example, hits the lats in a slightly different way and will cause more soreness than whatever regular row you’re used to)

But if that same level of soreness is still there a few sessions in and hasn’t gotten much better, then lower the number of sets per exercise or the number of exercises per body part.

Michael
Michael
April 23, 2020 18:57
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thanks Andy, I saw that article right after I posted and it was very helpful.

Yes, i’ll do what it said and just do my normal gym program sets/reps/split. The weird thing is I never thought of that as an option under lockdown if you were pretty strong.

I’m going to do that and focus on the RPE/RIR and try to hit that with a reasonable number of reps (4-20). Should be far more enjoyable.

Do you think if someone was band-only do you think they could build a similar amount of muscle compared to free weight? It obv be less but how much less?

I’m really tempted to try that as sort of “life-challenge” even after lockdown. Found I love bands and their versatility.

Drea
Drea
March 11, 2020 18:56

I am a novice with less than a year of experience. I love the 6 day LPP split but I am not making much strength progression. Should reduce volume withe LPP or should I switch to a U/L split

Andy Morgan
Admin
Andy Morgan
March 12, 2020 08:49
Reply to  Drea

Hi Drea, see my article on progression (How to Keep Progressing as a Novice and Intermediate Trainee) and then troubleshooting progression (How to Break Training Plateaus [Decision Tree & Checklist]).

Pedro
Pedro
February 19, 2020 23:44

Hello,
I can only train on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Is it better to do a 3x week Full Body workout (but then I would train on back to back days, and I’m not sure if this would be ok), or FB on Wed and Upper/Lower on the consecutive days (which may represent less volume)?
Thank you for the amazing post!

Andy Morgan
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 21, 2020 12:50
Reply to  Pedro

Probably the latter. But with some focussed effort, you’ll likely be able to keep the same volume.

Pedro
Pedro
February 22, 2020 02:45
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thank you for the answer! Any post/comments on how to better structure specifically a full body routine?

Andy Morgan
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 22, 2020 09:02
Reply to  Pedro

As you said, Pedro: Full body, upper, lower.

Varun Kaushik
Varun Kaushik
February 16, 2020 16:15

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 17, 2020 10:14
Reply to  Varun Kaushik

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
February 12, 2020 21:49

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 13, 2020 09:21
Reply to  Michael Bested

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
February 13, 2020 19:24
Reply to  Andy Morgan

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 13, 2020 20:09
Reply to  Michael Bested

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
February 12, 2020 03:47

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 12, 2020 09:00

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
February 4, 2020 11:18

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 5, 2020 06:55
Reply to  Tee

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
February 4, 2020 03:51

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
February 5, 2020 06:42
Reply to  Teo

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
February 5, 2020 19:56
Reply to  Andy Morgan

Thank you Andy

Tobias Schneider
Tobias Schneider
January 22, 2020 23:35

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
January 23, 2020 14:09

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
January 23, 2020 16:03
Reply to  Andy Morgan

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
January 24, 2020 12:03

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
January 7, 2020 18:27

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
January 8, 2020 10:23
Reply to  Neil

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
January 1, 2020 00:51

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

Andy Morgan
Admin
Andy Morgan
January 1, 2020 20:08
Reply to  Paul

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

Julian
Julian
December 4, 2019 08:05

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
December 4, 2019 10:04
Reply to  Julian

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

Sascha
Sascha
November 28, 2019 01:11

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
November 28, 2019 08:05
Reply to  Sascha

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
November 15, 2019 23:24

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
November 17, 2019 03:45
Reply to  John

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
November 14, 2019 12:28

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
November 15, 2019 00:19
Reply to  Serdar

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

Alejandro Vásquez Morales
Alejandro Vásquez Morales
October 4, 2019 14:17

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
October 5, 2019 08:04

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
September 11, 2019 21:08

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
September 13, 2019 16:15

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
August 9, 2019 16:49

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
August 9, 2019 19:40
Reply to  Michel Brok

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
August 7, 2019 00:18

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
Admin
Andy Morgan
August 7, 2019 17:04
Reply to  Rob

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.

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