Q: Most of the programs in your e-books don’t have a lot of work sets. Pro bodybuilders use a lot more volume than you recommend, and they’re obviously pretty huge and ripped. Are there any studies that prove less time in the gym is good or that show the best number of sets for a workout?
A: Too much stress, whether in relationships, in the gym, or on a bungee-jumping platform, causes cortisol to surge. Cortisol is a stress hormone that can force your body to eat muscle tissue for energy. Not good! And it lowers testosterone, which also can cause muscle loss (not to mention a lower sex drive). A study that looked at how training volume affects testosterone in men was done several years ago (Alemany, J.A., et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 36:S238)…
Group 1: No exercise (control)
Group 2: 25 sets
Group 3: 50 sets
The workouts consisted of big, basic exercises—squats, presses, bench presses, etc.—that are linked to elevated testosterone in subjects in other studies. Reps per set were five to 10, with 90 to 120 seconds of rest between sets.
Results: The high-volume group had significantly suppressed testosterone over a 24-hour period versus those who spent less time in the gym. There was no reduction in the moderate-volume group (#2).
Too much work smothers gains. That’s why we always recommend workouts of no more than about 30 work sets at any one session for drug-free trainees (pro bodybuilders are not drug-free; don’t use their training as a model unless you are on their drug regimens!), and the study confirms what we’ve discovered about efficiency and spending less time working out (with more time to grow) over the years in our own training experiments. That’s why all the programs in our newest Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload e-book contain fewer than 30 work sets per session—and some as few as only 15.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
The “New” Perfect Physique
You’ve probably believed that women go crazy over huge muscles. You’ve probably even aspired to look like Arnold at some point.
The picture of the perfect physique seems to have changed over the years…
There were several years when it seemed women preferred a leaner and smaller physique like Brad Pitt’s in Fight Club.
Luckily, that seems to have just been a fad, and a more muscular look has become more desired again. Not pro bodybuilder big, but something in between with good muscularity and chiseled detail…
Alain Gonzales refers to it as the “Athletic-Aesthetic” physique, and women go wild over it.
Check out Alain’s 12-week program here: