Here’s everything you need to know about minimal effective training volume in just three minutes.
How little can you train and still maintain or build muscle? It depends on how many effective you do during a set.
The Bullet Points
Minimal effective volume is the fewest number of sets and reps you can do and still build muscle. But this idea needs to be put into context.
If you take a set to failure, that set will contain more effective reps. The closer the reps are to failure, the more effective those reps become at stimulating hypertrophy.
If you stop 2 reps short of failure, that set will be half as effective as a set taken to failure.
If you push your sets to failure, you actually don’t need a lot of volume to trigger growth.
When I do an effort-based program, lower volume and taking sets to failure, I can keep building muscle at 4-6 sets per muscle per week. That’s equivalent to 10-12 sets NOT taken to failure.
If you don’t take sets to failure, volume becomes more important for building muscle: you need more of it.
When it comes to non-failure training, you can maintain muscle using about one-fourth of your normal volume. If you normally do 20 sets per muscle per week, you can maintain muscle mass with 5 sets per muscle per week done at the same level of effort. If you push those 5 sets to failure, you may actually gain muscle.
For a detailed plan, check out my Hypertrophy training system:
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