Journal Entry 230 – Low Volume Training

This week is slightly different than last as I’m doing Push, Pull, Legs, Shoulders over a 4 day split instead of my normal 3 day. I took half a day off on Wednesday in the morning and was able to go lift before work. I have a new schedule that will likely change my hours from 1pm-12am Sunday – Wednesday. The huge advantage is that I can shift my workouts to the morning when the gym isn’t nearly as packed. Although I have really come to enjoy my split over the weekend, so I may just keep those 4 days in a row as rest days and hit it hard over the weekend, regardless of my shift.

I have really come to enjoy low volume training. Here is my pull workout from this week:

  • DB Rows – 110lbs (unilateral) for 9 9 7 reps
  • Chinups (full extension – chest to the bar) 10 8 7 6
  • DB Rear Flys 20 x 9 8 8
  • DB Curl (two handed) 35’s x 10 6 6
  • Cable Woodchoppers (abs) 37.5x 10 9 9

This is a very basic workout, but every exercise had perfect form and the weight was selected to fatigue all of my muscle fibers. I did this after a 1 mile and half warmup on the treadmill. The thing is this workout took me about 30-40 minutes and I had almost nothing left in the tank afterward. It kind of makes you wonder what attracts people to high volume. If you can spend over 1 hour and half in the gym on one-two bodyparts it probably means your not working hard enough. I mean a chest is not a large muscle group and even advanced bodybuilders can hit it hard in 30-40 minutes. Not sure where the obliterate it for 2 hours caught on. Again its like if you can lift with the same muscle group for that long then you probably need to increase the intensity, because at that point you should barely be able to do a pushup not pump out 100 more worthlesss reps on the chest fly machine.

I like the idea of keeping cardio and weights separate. I think some cardio before lifting is beneficial because it warms the body and joints for heavy lifting. A lot of workouts try to make a weight workout into a cardio workout. I dont really know why. Use weights to build muscle with heavy lifting. If your using submaximal weights that you can pump up 100 times then your probably not building muscle and could burn far more calories by doing cardio. I also find workouts very satisfying at the end when I know I’m too tired to do much more. If I was in the gym for 2 hours and still felt like I could do more, I would really start to question what they hell I was doing in the first place. I think the simple answer is your just not lifting intensely enough. I’m also not talking about super heavy weights either, which I dont think are very effective. But heavy enough with 4-10 reps with perfect from on every rep.

In regards to volume though I think it comes down to one major thing: how much you can recover from. If you can smash your body with 2 hour workouts a day and come back stronger the next workout then its working for you. Strength progression is a key indicator whether or not you are recovering from your workouts or not. Obviously if you losing strength then your taking more out of your body then your giving back. This can be handled by doing less volume or eating more food.

I’m a minimalist though and like to keep this as simple as possible. I like the idea of a minimum effective dose.

I have completed two of my four workouts this week and not going to lie my bench workout was no bueno. The weights felt very heavy and I dropped a few reps from last week. My pull workout went very well though and I increased my reps from last week. I weighed in at 168.2lbs at a low weigh in this week, so it may have had something to do with dropping weight. I’m considering doing pull first and push second, so my muscles can soak up some of the higher calories on the weekend. The problem with the first workout of the week is that I’m still somewhat depleted by the weekdays low calorie intake and this negatively impacts my workout.

Diet this week was 1900 calories average – 162 protein / 197g carbs – 50 fiber /  54g of fat

6 thoughts on “Journal Entry 230 – Low Volume Training

  1. Anonymous

    This is still the best article discussing this. I found I am not* one of the guys that have the joint structure to handle heavy ass lifting (small bone density and structure) I would have sore joints and injuries regularly when I went in the 5-8 rep range. I find it more recoverable and easier on my body to be in the 8-15 range. As studies have proven time and time again anywhere in the 6-15 range works, but there you have to find what works best for you especially long term health wise. I hate his dogma that lifting super heavy and hard or your a time wasting pussy in the gym, the fact every 40-50 year old former pro bodybuilder seems to talk this down cautioning young people about injuries that effect your long term health should be a lesson.

    Now I’m not sure if your talking about this in a open sense or if your approaching it from the “lift heavy ass shit” bro path lol.


    • Michael Cocchiola


      Haha yeah I see your point. Good form is crucial instead of just heaving heavy weights. Some form of progressive overload within any rep range is crucial. (For example if your goal is 3 sets of 10 reps with 80lbs then ideally you want to hit 30 reps across 3 sets before moving up to 85lbs. If your struggling for weeks with no increase or simply just not focusing on increasing this then your probably focusing on BS that doesnt need to be focused on) It can be more difficult to do this at higher rep ranges because you also need good muscular endurance to do it. For example its probably easier to increase 3 sets of 6 reps with a heavier weight than 3 sets of 12 reps with a moderate weight just due to muscular fatigue that can kick in with higher reps. But yeah if you find it difficult then its probably not a great idea. I have found myself sticking to at least 6 reps on most exercise preferably closer to 8 for the reasons you listed. I still consider that pretty heavy though. I’m just not into the whole burn out, high rep set BS, because it never did a damn thing for me and mainly just made me weaker and ended up wasting my time. On the other hand lifting stupidly heavy without good form is dumb too. I like striking that sweet middle ground.

      After my terrible bench performance, I actually squatted 225x 9 7 6 last workout. A lot more than last workout haha.


  2. Carson

    Totally concur with all of this. It’s experimental. I’ve seen guys go 5 reps heavy as hell no problem, but they sure look built for that. I agree and also hate 12 and up its to time and energy consuming, although some curls at 12 reps every now and than is cool. I’ve settled into the middle ground of 10 as a prefrence. Sometimes I throw in a 6 or even a 15 just to provide some shock if you get me. Good discussion :). P.s. have you implemented glute ham raises? I started doing em and I’d say nothing has worked that well for my hams before, very effective. It’s tougher to hit hams without glute bombing too, and I unfortunately my glutes grow better than anything lol.


    • Michael Cocchiola


      Haha yeah rep goals are most likely most important. It just often gets slotted into low rep sets. For example, 3 sets of 5 reps with progressive overload as the primary driver can just as easily be done with any rep range within the golden range of 6-12 reps. I like to use 10 reps a lot as well with everything besides the main movement (Bench, rows, Squats).

      Menno henselmans was huge fan of glute ham raises and did them everyday in his plans. I usually dont implement them to be honest. I like lunges a lot for hams and glutes (take a larger step length to hit hams harder and shorter length step for quads) and close stance DB romanian deadlifts are very good to “feel it” in your hams.

      I’m going to bust out some full body this week 3 days in a row over the weekend. Still have my main lifts in place but going to spread out the accessory work. To get in more volume for each muscle group.

      Check this out:
      Now that’s how its done haha.


  3. Carson


    I saw this article they other day.
    When you think about it though at 6 foot 9 300+ pounds and being very active….it really doesn’t surprise me he eats that much food. I mean his calorie maintenance is probably 3 times that of the average male.
    That almost sucks in a way, i mean yea its awesome that your a monster but maintaining that hulk like frame is like a 24/7 and costly job lol.



    • Michael Cocchiola

      Yeah good point. I saw a video of Jay cutler saying if he for whatever reason missed one meal he would wake up 7 less pounds than the day before. Couldn’t eat any fiber or veggies because they fill his stomach up too much. Mainly just grits, protein powder, liquids to prevent filling his stomach. Sounds like a miserable way to get down thousands of calories haha. At least the mountain actually eats some good food.


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