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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I‘m not new to lifting but still very much in the beginner phase. I’m 24 and have been lifting for years, but on and off and inconsistently, so I haven’t build a years worth of solid gains yet.

I’m struggling to know, as someone in the newbie gain phase (I’ve probably only got a culmination of a few months of gains for my years of training), how much volume I should be doing.

This is what my current program looks like. It’s full body, three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday).

In terms of the intensity of each set, at a given weight I terminate the third set (last set) one rep shy of failure.

Monday
Bench press - 3 x 8
Barbell row - 3 x 8
Barbell press - 3 x 8
Squats - 3 x 10
Curls - 3 x 10
Shrugs - 3 x 10

Wednesday
Flys - 3 x 8
Pull ups/chin ups - 3 x 8
Side raises - 3 x 10
Bulgarian squats - 3 x 10
Tricep press - 3 x 10
Abs

Friday
Bench press - 3 x 8
Barbell row - 3 x 8
Barbell press - 3 x 8
Squats - 3 x 10
Curls - 3 x 10
Shrugs - 3 x 10

The more I research about volume the more I see this isn’t optimal. From what I’ve read, you should be doing at least 10 sets per week, per body part, with around 20 sets per week, per body part being the likely maximum recoverable volume.

As you can see, most of my exercises bring me out at around 9 sets per week per body part. Some like triceps are under balanced, with me only hitting them directly once a week (I thought because they got hit from the presses that would be sufficient, but I now know that isn’t optimal.

How should I modify my program to be more optimal, and how much total volume should I be doing as a beginner to be maximising my gains?

Many thanks!
 

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You are on the right track although for someone with your experience the number of working sets per week is more like 10-14.
what I would do is repeat Mondays workout 3 times a week and increase the sets to 4 per exercise with a rep range of 8-12.
I would also stop looking at stopping one rep shy of failure mainly because I really do not think you or your body understands true failure yet, use a weight you can hit a rep number within the set rep range.

what I get my clients to do is to use a weight that they can hit 8-10 reps with then continue with that weight until they can hit 12 reps, once they have achieved that then and only then increase the weight, again to a weight you can hit 8-10 reps with…..

good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You are on the right track although for someone with your experience the number of working sets per week is more like 10-14.
what I would do is repeat Mondays workout 3 times a week and increase the sets to 4 per exercise with a rep range of 8-12.
I would also stop looking at stopping one rep shy of failure mainly because I really do not think you or your body understands true failure yet, use a weight you can hit a rep number within the set rep range.

what I get my clients to do is to use a weight that they can hit 8-10 reps with then continue with that weight until they can hit 12 reps, once they have achieved that then and only then increase the weight, again to a weight you can hit 8-10 reps with…..

good luck.
Thanks for the advice! I thought maybe something like that would work. So regarding the volume: how do you know whether you should be more towards 10 or more towards 14 sets?
 

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Dont give up on us baby
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With the greatest respect Paul wouldn't doing Mondays workout 3 x week be 90% upper body? no calves or hamstrings seems a little uneven.
 

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With the greatest respect Paul wouldn't doing Mondays workout 3 x week be 90% upper body? no calves or hamstrings seems a little uneven.
I was just selecting one of the workouts he was doing, I would structure it slightly different but with someone of his experience you don’t need to really hit all muscles specifically, Hamstrings will be hit with squats but obviously will need more when his experience develops.

Thanks for the advice! I thought maybe something like that would work. So regarding the volume: how do you know whether you should be more towards 10 or more towards 14 sets?
We’ll if you do 4 sets per exercise then you will be hitting 12 per week which is a good place to start.
don’t overthink it though.
 

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honestly if you're new to this and finding your feet you need to try different approaches and see what work...coz it ain't one size fits all.

for years I thought blood-and-guts must be the way to get big...smash a body part to bits and then don't do it again all week....at times ( due to work commitments ) I would literally kill myself on upper body one day / lower body the next...then just eat and sleep until next week. and yeah...I did grow...a bit.

during lockdown I had to work out from home so the weight went down and the volume went up...and I actually got bigger. when the gyms re-opened I now do just 2x sets per exercise and 3x exercises per body part...with the split being upper body / lower body / arms / rest...rinse and repeat. I don't deadlift more than once a week tho.

I can honestly say this switch has made a big improvement in my physique...now whether that is just due to the "confusion principle" or some other weider shit I dunno....but the point is you need to play around a bit a see what works.

now although this is anecdotal and only applies to me I hope it shows how different ways of working can provide different results. honestly unless you're a pro try not to overthink it...kinda go a bit instinctive you'll know when you've worked a body part well. good luck !!
 

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Dont give up on us baby
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Do you do upper/lower once or twice a week ie

Mon wed fri
upper lower upper

or

mon tue thur fri
upper lower upper lower
 
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