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One might say that, once again, you've got to use brain over braun. Is that anything new? Let the younger guys rack up the stacks of 45 lb plates. Trust me: half or more of them will be limping around in ten to twenty years from hurting their backs or elbows or shoulders or hips or knees. It's easy to do as you start getting to those heavy weights. as the body building magazines recommend - Olympic lifts like the squat, bench press and dead lift - you're going to be lifting a lot of weight. You only get one mistake and you're hurt for potentially years or decades.
Does Volume Training really work? You instinctively know the answer. Ever seen a mechanics forearms? He doesn't generally lift that much, yet he looks like Popeye, matey. Why? Because he does hundreds of smaller "lifts" with his arms throughout the day and the net result are forearms that would grab the attention of any woman. Again, it's volume, volume, volume. And who has the biggest cuads you've ever seen? Olympic power skaters are right at the top. In fact, male ballet dancers have huge quads and gluts that would put most guys in a gym to shame. None of these guys use weights! They are essentially doing Volume Training with their own body weight.
Finally, who has the type of build that women admire most? Is it the freakishly massive steroid-built body builders doing Olympic lifts? No, it's gymnasts who lift nothing more than their own body weight in a unique type of Volume Training over and over and over again.
Note: There is quasi-verification of using Volume Training in a recent study. Scientists recently found  that doing 40% of your one rep max, a low weight indeed, at a slow pace - three seconds up and three seconds back - done to exhaustion gave greater growth hormone response than traditional weight lifting techniques. This has left the researchers scratching their heads. These results should be considered preliminary, but maybe going to very low weights and slowing down your reps is just what the Endocrinologist ordered.
Does Volume Training take more time at the gym? Not really, because you should not do more than one exercise per muscle group. Furthermore, you should generally not exercise any muscle group more than one time per week. (You won't want to if you've done it right: you'll stay sore for days.)
One other question that may have crossed your mind is "what should I do if I'm not going to lift heavy, Olympic Style lifts"? Well, I would recommend Isolation instead. Now that is blasphemy in weight lifting circles. But let me tell you why I've never believed in Olympic lifts: I've got a huge chest for my body type and weight and I've rarely done a bench press. That's right - I started with flyes in college and that's really the only exercise that I've eever done for my chest. And my pecs are large enough that I actually don't want them any bigger.
So why are flyes so effective? Because they hit nothing but your chest. If you do them right, your chest will be screaming the next couple of days without risking life and limb like you have to do with trying a bench press by yourself. There are similar isolation-type exercises for all the muscle groups and they all work just great.
What really counts in putting on muscle is Muscle Tension. Several studies have shown that it's really the amount of tension put on the muscle that is so critical for growth.  A beautiful example of this is lying tricep extensions where one lays on one's back on a bench and brings the weights down to the forehead and then back up. This leave the tricep in a stretched out, high tension state and will make the back of your arms scream with pain the next day. You will also find they make your triceps grow very fast even though you have not lifted that much weight. You can probably do double the weight if you do the standard cable triceps pushdown. But you will get less muscle growth with those because tension is so critical. This is not really an example of Volume Training but illustrates that you do not have to lift heavy to get big significant mucle gains.
CAUTION: It is possible to hurt your joints if you move jerkily and stretch the tendon or muscle too far. Be careful and study the basic lifts to understand the way to lift properly. And, of course, work with your doctor if you have any medical condition whatsoever!
CAUTION: Also, studies have shown that it is probably dangerous to do weight training without cardio afterwards. If you're a weight lifter, and I hope you are, see the Sexercise link for details. You may also want to consider reading the Overtraining link if you're the over-zealous type.
Finally, feel free to Contact Me with any questions about these strategies.
1) Fitness Rx, 9/08, p.24.
2) Physiological Sciences,2008,58(1):7-14
3) Intl J Sports Physiol Perf,2008,3:279-293
4) Sports Med Arthroscopy Review,2008,148-161
5) PLoS ONE, 2010, 5(8):e12033, "Low-Load High Volume Resistance Exercise Stimulates Muscle Protein Synthesis More Than High-Load Low Volume Resistance Exercise in Young Men"
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