By Nick Nilsson
Author of Mad Scientist Muscle
Time-Volume Training is one of my favorite "no brains required" methods for building muscle and strength like clockwork.
When you do this style of training, you know EXACTLY what weight to use, how many reps to do, how long to do it for and when to increase the weight...ZERO brains required.
It's a strategy that allows you to do a LOT of work for a muscle in a short period of time, which will stimulate muscle growth AND burn a lot of calories and boost your metabolism, contributing to significant fat loss.
It's GREAT training and a technique that is absolutely worth using whether you're looking to build muscle or burn fat.
The formula for my regular version of Time-Volume Training is simple...and you'll be able to see exactly why I say "zero brains required"...
Select a weight you can do 10 reps with in a normal set (you're going to be doing this for a 15 minute block of time). Now do 3 reps. Rest 10 seconds. Do 3 more reps. Rest 10 seconds...and repeat until you can't get 3 reps in a set.
Now switch your rest to 20 seconds and keep going with more 3 rep sets. Repeat these with 20 seconds rest until you can't get 3 reps again and then go to 30 seconds rest...and so on, to 40 seconds rest. Repeat until your 15 minute block of time is done.
If you make it 1/3 of the way through (e.g. 5 minutes on a 15 minute block) still doing 10 seconds rest, then you increase the weight on that exercise in your next workout.
For the FULL description and methodology, read Time/Volume Training - A Program For Building Mass Even With Bodyweight Exercises
I had originally designed Time-Volume Training to be done with bodyweight exercises that usually allow you to get too many reps to build muscle (like being able to do 30+ push-ups) and use them to build muscle by brining the reps down and going for volume. Then I realized this framework works GREAT with weights as well (even better than bodyweight, to be honest!).
Time-Volume Training is a form of Density Training (density training has been used by Vince Gironda, Charles Staley and many others) that takes ALL the guesswork out. The exact sets and reps and rest are all laid out for you...all you have to do is the work.
Normally, I do Time-Volume Training with just one exercise...e.g. bench press for 15 minutes straight.
And this works VERY well. You get a tremendous amount of time under tension for the target exercise and target muscles and you can see tremendous results both in muscle and fat loss.
THIS version I want to tell you about today is done with two antagonistic exercises. For the demo, I'm using flat barbell bench press and chin-ups, working the chest and back.
Going back and forth between two antagonistic exercises has a several big advantages:
First, the muscle groups get a bit more rest between sets because you're not hitting them directly again after 10 seconds rest. This allows you to stay at the same rest periods for longer, which means you do more overall sets in the 15 minute block of time.
More sets means more volume which means more results.
Second, antagonistic training is VERY efficient for the nervous system. Activating the antagonist muscles can actually INCREASE strength in the original bodypart, i.e. you can actually be a bit stronger in bench for the chest when you work a back exercise right before.
So this type of training allows you to stay stronger on both exercises and get a lot of good training volume in with very little rest (making it GREAT for fat-loss and preserving muscle while training for fat loss).
It also keeps you away from muscular failure so that you're not crushing your recovery systems, which is also VERY important on a reduced-calorie diet where reduced recovery levels can be a big problem.
Here are pics of the two exercises in the demo...pretty straightforward. You can use pulldowns if you can't do at least 10 chin-ups.
Since my chin-up bar is on my rack, rather than moving the bench on each set, I just opted to straddle the bench at the bottom of the chin-up.
As you'll see in the demo video, I take 10 seconds rest between each set. Do 3 reps of bench, rest 10 seconds, then 3 reps of chins, rest 10 seconds, then 3 reps of bench, etc.
Keep going like this for as long as you can.
Now here's the thing...most likely, one exercise is going to start fading first. For me, it was the bench press. So what I did was kept the rest to 10 seconds going from bench to chins, but increased the rest to 20 seconds going from chins to bench. This worked quite well and allowed me to keep going while still minimizing rest in between sets.
You can perform this type of training with just about any antagonistic exercises and bodypart pairings, e.g. biceps and triceps (curls and pushdowns), quads and hamstrings (squats and stiff-leg deadlifts), abs and lower back, front delts or rear delts (front raises and bent-over raises). For the smaller parts like arms and shoulders, I would suggest a 10 minute block of time.
You can use Time-Volume Training as a technique to insert into your training once in awhile or work it as the basis of an entire program.
Overall, Time-Volume Training is a great method for building muscle both on fat-loss programs and on muscle-building programs. It'll help keep workout time managed and predictable while hitting your muscles VERY effectively, while burning a tremendous amount of calories (ideal for fat-loss training).
I like this style of training so much, I've included it as a major part of two of my programs...Metabolic Surge - Rapid Fat Loss and Mad Scientist Muscle. This "antagonistic" variation of it can be worked into both of those very easily.
Bottom line, if you've never tried it before, take 15 minutes in your next workout and do this Antagonistic style of training. Just plug in your favorite exercises and prepare to be impressed.
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