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Optimized Volume Training



by Christian Thibaudeau


Part of his evolution was due to a training program he developed called OVT or Optimized Volume Training. Previously, this program was only available to those that read the ***** forum, but now he's making this updated version available to everyone. Fire up the printer; this could be the next big thing in bodybuilding!

Around 1995, the bodybuilding world was introduced to a new form of hypertrophy training: German Volume Training. That article was written by an up-and-coming star in the strength and conditioning community (Charles Poliquin) and it really changed the way people trained to gain mass. The premise was relatively simple: pick a few exercises and do ten sets of ten reps. It was simple and effective.
However, the program had some weaknesses, some of which were pointed out in TC's "German Volume Training 2000" article here at  worldclassbodybuilding.com. A few of those weaknesses were:
� Possible overuse injuries from such a high volume of the same exercises.
� Very high level of boredom. (Call me crazy, but for me to stay motivated I must have at least some fun in the gym!)
Not enough emphasis on some muscles and some muscle functions. With GVT you couldn't use many exercises because the sheer volume would be too much! As a result, muscle imbalances could develop.
This final problem is new: GVT neglects strength. In fact, I've known several athletes who actually got weaker on GVT, even if they gained a lot of mass. The reason is that super high volume coupled with low intensity causes mostly non-functional hypertrophy and doesn't require an intense neuromotor involvement.
It was this last weakness that got me thinking, experimenting and tinkering. That's how I came up with a variation of volume training that will increase strength and functional hypertrophy alike. Enter Optimized Volume Training!

The Overview
For OVT, I kept the basic premise of doing 100 total reps per muscle group. This is a time-proven approach. However, the distribution of those reps is vastly different from the original GVT program.
First difference: Every set is in fact a superset of two exercises working the same muscle group. The first exercise in the superset is a big compound movement (e.g. bench press, squat, deadlift, row, even clean or snatch) and it's done for five reps using as much weight as possible. The second exercise in the superset is an isolation movement for the main muscle being worked in the first exercise. This second exercise is also done for five reps, but with a small load and a very slow tempo.
Second difference: While in GVT all ten sets were of the same exercise, we'll employ two different supersets per muscle, each superset being performed five times (50 total reps per superset). This will allow us to use four different exercises for a muscle group, which should take care of boredom and imbalances.
Third difference: In the original program, the prescribed rest interval is sixty seconds. Since we want to be able to lift a bit more weight we're going to take 120 seconds in OVT, but there's no rest between exercises in the same superset.
Fourth difference: Rather than perform all sets with the same weight, as is the case with GVT, you do use as much weight as possible and adjust the load after each set (plus or minus 5 to 10 pounds, depending on the ease/difficulty of the preceding set).
Don't worry if you don't grasp all of that right now. I'll provide a complete sample program below!

Training Split
Because of the high demands of the program, each body part is only worked once per week. The following split is to be used:
Day 1: Chest and back
Day 2: Legs and abs
Day 3: Off
Day 4: Biceps and triceps
Day 5: Off
Day 6: Anterior/medial deltoid and rear deltoid
Day 7: Off
While exercise selection can vary according to your preferences, the following has been proven very effective:

Day 1: Chest and Back

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
Bench press 5 5 201 none
Flat dumbbell flies 5 5 602 120 seconds
Incline bench press 5 5 201 none
Incline dumbbell flies 5 5 602 120 seconds
Lat Pulldowns 5 5 201 none
1 arm rows 5 5 602 120 seconds
Bent-over barbell rows 5 5 201 none
Seated cable rows 5 5 602 120 seconds


Day 2: Legs and Abs

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
Front squat 5 5 201 none
Lunges 5 5 602 120 seconds
1-leg back extension 5 5 201 none
Leg curl 5 5 602 120 seconds
Sumo deadlift 5 5 201 none
Romanian deadlift 5 5 602 120 seconds

Abs are done according to individual preferences. .

Day 4: Biceps and Triceps

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
Barbell curl 5 5 201 none
Dumbbell curl 5 5 602 120 seconds
Preacher curl 5 5 201 none
Hammer curl 5 5 602 120 seconds
Weighted dips 5 5 201 none
Decline triceps extension 5 5 602 120 seconds
Lying triceps extension 5 5 201  none
Cable press down 5 5 602  120 seconds

Day 6: Anterior/Medial Deltoid and Posterior Deltoid

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
Military press 5 5 201 none
Incline lateral raise 5 5 602 120 seconds
Alternate db  press 5 5 201 none
Cable front raise 5 5 602 120 seconds
Seated cable row to neck 5 5 201 none
Incline rear delt raise 5 5 602 120 seconds
  5 5 201 none

Note: If you're unfamiliar with any of these exercises, just type the name of the movement into the search engine and you'll find a description and probably a photo or two.

Changing the Exercises
Exercise variation is important. For OVT, I recommend using blocks of four weeks of training. Perform the same exercises for four weeks, then choose other exercises and complete another four week block. A complete cycle of OVT lasts eight week, after which you should engage in an easier form of training for one to two weeks to allow for the maximal delayed effect.
Here's the second four week block:

Day 1: Chest and Back

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
 Low incline dumbbell press 5 5 201 none
Low incline dumbbell flies 5 5 602 120 seconds
Weighted dips 5 5 201 none
Flat dumbbell flies 5 5 602 120 seconds
Pullover 5 5 201 none
1 arm cable rows 5 5 602 120 seconds
T-bar rows 5 5 201 none
Seated cable rowing 5 5 602 120 seconds


Day 2: Legs and Abs

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
Front squat 5 5 201 none
Step-ups 5 5 602 120 seconds
Glute-hamstring raise 5 5 201 none
Leg curl 5 5 602 120 seconds
Deadlift 5 5 201 none
1-leg deadlift 5 5 602 120 seconds
weighted lunges 5 5 201 none


Day 4: Biceps and Triceps

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
EZ bar curl 5 5 201 none
Zottman curl 5 5 602 120 seconds
Preacher curl 5 5 201 none
1 arm cable curl 5 5 602 120 seconds
Overhead rope tri extension 5 5 201 none
1-arm cable triceps pressdowns 5 5 602 120 seconds
Lying triceps extension 5 5 201 none
cable pressdowns 5 5 602 120 seconds


Day 6: Anterior/Medial Deltoid and Posterior Deltoid

Exercise

Sets

Reps Tempo Rest intervals
Push press 5 5 201 none
1-arm lateral raise 5 5 602 120 seconds
Standing dumbbell shoulder press 5 5 201 none
Barbell front raise 5 5 602 120 seconds
Seated cable row to neck 5 5 201 none
Incline rear delt raise 5 5 602 120 seconds
  5 5 201 none

Load Progression
One of the keys to OVT's success is the constant drive to increase the load on the first exercise of all supersets from week to week. This will literally make or break the program! Strive to increase the load but not at the expense of proper form!
For the second exercise of each superset, load progression isn't as important. Its role is mostly to increase training volume and total time under tension (TUT). If you can increase the load in this exercise, great! But as long as you're progressing on the heavy exercise you'll be fine. The important thing is to go as heavy as possible for the first exercise of a superset while using a light, controllable load for the second one.

Conclusion
I firmly believe that a new door has been opened as far as gaining size is concerned. Not only will OVT give you a lot of new muscle, but that new muscle will be functional and you'll have the strength to go with your size!

About the Author
Christian Thibaudeau is a strength and conditioning coach who works with a wide range of elite athletes. He has successfully trained athletes requiring a wide array of physical qualities ranging from strength and power (football players, Olympic lifters, strongmen competitors) and important energetic capacities (hockey players) to proprioception and stabilization/balance (figure skaters ). He's also a competitive Olympic weightlifter and a football coach. Christian is completing his M.Sc. degree in exercise science and has been a research assistant in that field for the past two years.
 




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