I thought I knew what high volume training was all about. Those of you who have read this blog for long enough will know that I regularly use very high volume training methodologies for both hypertrophy and to stimulate maximum fat loss. But as usual with life, there is always someone trying harder than you. After an inspiring late night chat at the start of this week with leading IFBB professional bodybuilder Ben Pakulski I realised that it wouldn’t hurt to step things up a little and experiment with something more extreme than my typical high volume training giant sets of 3-5 exercises.
I just want to reiterate part of that last sentence for you and stress the word “experiment”. If you want to excel as a personal trainer/coach I feel that it’s vitally important to treat everything you do as an ongoing experiment. Sure, you may know a host of the “best ways” to do something, but there will always be tweaks and modifications that can be made to further refine and advance your knowledge. If I am going to push someone to crazy levels of training /hypertrophy/fat loss, I need to have tried everything out on myself because a huge part of what I do is based on personal experience and being able to properly relate that and contextualise it to the unique circumstances of another person. To use an extreme example, if I don’t know what it feels like to be dizzy and vomit during a legs session, do I really have the credibility, authority and confidence to push someone else so hard? I think not – in fact this principle is why I insist that all my trainers at UP know how to get in top shape and regularly do it on themselves. There is no substitute for experience because the more you do it yourself, the more you know how to improve and adapt the process for your client.
Moving back to the specifics of this post and focusing on high volume legs training, Ben told me about a few workouts that made me think I’d been taking it a bit easy so this week I have been hammering the volume and assessing what can be done better within a workout, and how all this work impacts my body. I’m not going to tell you all the lessons learned, although what I can tell you is that you shouldn’t plan to do anything for the rest of the day if you follow the legs workout I am going to set out below. My pulse rate was still elevated 4 hours after I stopped training, both my hamstrings cramped up severely for two ten minute periods later that day, and after downing my post workout shake and driving home I fell straight to sleep for two hours!
For the sake of full disclosure I was also abundantly aware that there was not a snowball’s chance in Hell that I’d be able to do this workout without some serious encouragement, so I enlisted three of UP’s finest to suffer alongside me – Glenn Parker, Eddie Baruta, and Nick Daniel. The latter is only 4 weeks out from his first ever bodybuilding contest so really well done to him for being so game and joining in. Not a single head dropped once during the entire session, even though with hindsight it took a bit too long and I’d save the calf workout for another day.
And just one last point before we get to the good stuff – with a workout like this you need the luxury of a very quiet gym, and you’ll find a whiteboard (see below) to write down the exercises is absolutely indispensible. Even if you can remember the workout exactly, your brain will be like mush soon enough and you don’t want to think (because that gives you options and when you have options you take the easy way out) you just want to “do”!
Super High Volume Training: Legs!
Note – there was minimal rest between sets of any exercise that was grouped together, we only rested at the end of each giant set.
High Volume Training – Calves:
A1: Safety Bar Squats: 3010 tempo/15-30 reps (to failure).
A2: Seated Calf Raises: 2111 tempo/15 plus reps (to failure).
A3: Standing Machine Calf Raises: 2011 tempo/20 plus reps (to failure).
A4: Donkey Calf Raises: 2012 tempo/30 plus reps (to failure).
A5: Squat Jumps: moving forward down a 40 metre track.
2 minutes rest/3 cycles.
High Volume Training – Hamstrings (next time I might drop the calves and increase the volume for hamstrings, this time around the hamstrings session was done with one eye on not burning out too much prior to quads):
B1: Lying Leg Curls: 4010 tempo/6 reps.
B2: Incline Hyperextensions: 3030 tempo/10 reps.
B3: Swiss Ball Leg Curls: 2010 tempo/20 reps.
2-3 minutes rest/3 cycles.
Still one more giant set to go and you can see that we were feeling the pace!
High Volume Training – Quadriceps:
C1: Atlantis Pendulum Squat: 4040 tempo/10 reps.
C2: Leg Extensions: 2012 tempo/25 reps.
C3: Leg Press: 2020 tempo/15 reps.
C4: Safety Bar Squats: 3010 tempo/10 reps.
C5: Hack Squats: 2010 tempo/15 reps.
C6: Lunges: 1 length of track (40 metres).
C7: Sissy Squats (using a cable machine to assist stretch): 3110 tempo/12 reps.
C8: Duck Leg Press: 3010 tempo/12 reps.
C9: Front Barbell Squat: 3010 tempo/10 reps.
C10: Back Barbell Squat: 2010 tempo/10 reps.
C11: Heels Elevated Bodyweight Squat/4040 tempo/10 reps.
3-4 minutes rest/3 cycles (at this stage training with people who push you on will be a massive help – Eddie Baruta is the fittest man on the planet so he was ready to go way before I’d have been able to do it myself. Correction, not “able” but “willing/prepared”, however, you don’t want to let yourself down so you step up – something for us all to remember no matter what level we are at if we want to get the very best out of our gym sessions).
As ever if you have any questions on this please feel free to pass on the comments in the section below, and do also make use of the social media buttons (twitter and Facebook) on the left of this page – the more people who can give me positive feedback then the more I know I am on the right track and will keep working hard to produce similar information for you.