Low-Weight High-Volume Training

by Brad Pilon

Let’s talk research.

Now, I’m not going to review this latest trial showing ‘near equivalent’ anabolic signaling between a Low Weight high Volume Training protocol and a High Weight Low Volume protocol, because it has already been done all over the internet.

For a complete review check here –> http://evidencebasedfitness.blogspot.com/2010/08/if-youre-going-to-claim-to-improve.html

And to read the actual paper –> http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2918506/?tool=pubmed

So the point isn’t a review as much as it is presenting an Alternative Conclusion.

If you look around on-line what you will find is mostly a collection of arguments against the study design, or the claims being made by the researchers, but what I would like to present is a little different…


I’m going to assume that for the most part the results found were correct and the methods were acceptable.

I’m also going to assume that the typical “BroScience” is correct. You know…the notion that the 5-15 rep range will build more muscle mass than the 20-50 rep range, regardless of whether or not the workload is equal.

In other words I’m going with the assumption that doing 5 sets of 5 reps with 425 pounds on the Squat is more ‘Anabolic’ then doing 5 sets of 25 reps with 85 pounds, even though the total amount of work done is the same (10,625 total pounds lifted).

What this study found was that Low-Weight High-Volume training caused the same changes in markers of muscle growth as High-Weight Low-Volume training as long as total work was the same.

So the alternative conclusion is this:

This research provides further evidence that there is a disassociation between the measures of Anabolic protein signaling (Such as the mTOR pathway) and actual long-term measurable muscle growth.

So even though we all enjoy reading about things like mTOR, AKT, and amino acid incorporation, these markers do not necessarily reflect long term changes in muscle growth.

Something else regulates the growth of muscle.

Something ‘down stream’ or something that happens at a later time.

In my opinion if you look at this study from this vantage point it becomes incredibly important because it shows us that while measuring these markers is extremely important in understanding human physiology, it only gives us a small fraction of the total muscle building story.

Food for thought.



John August 30, 2010 at 3:02 pm
Bart August 30, 2010 at 8:09 pm

does above mean that either one (low rep and high rep) will build same muscles or none of above?

Wood August 31, 2010 at 3:47 am

So just to be cleat, – i know that it wasnt the essence of your post and I understand what you meant – but You still think, that the hight load is superior in building muscle..

wolverine August 31, 2010 at 1:32 pm

so you mean everything iv come to know, love and embrace about 5*5 lifts is all wrong!!!! i guess the question is what is the trainers objective? if you want to gain muscle size the lift more volume, if you abhor being big and just want to be dense and firm the low rep high weight is the answer

SuBlueyz August 31, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Hi and low volume are both correct, right? I was working out w/a male friend of mine for 3 yrs and I would take the low-weight/high-volume route 90% of the time and he did the opposite, but our total amount of work was the same for the most part… It seems as if I gained just as much result over the long term as he did.

Garret September 12, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Hi Brad. Just wondering, does this mean that weshould structure workouts based on the physics equation w=fxd for best gains?

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