high volume workout for mass gains

by Jason Stallworth

November 17, 2020

Your ultimate goal is to pack on some serious size and make gains. And that’s a pretty awesome goal!

But sometimes it can be confusing to know which type of workout program you should be doing for hypertrophy. There’s so much conflicting information out there.

The truth is that most programs will work for you if you put in the effort. However, some work better than others and you want to find the one that will help you build more muscle, more efficiently.

There’s no time to waste. You’ve got gains to make!

In this post, I’m going to share one of the most effective methods of building muscle mass using a concept called high volume training. In fact, I’m going to give you an entire high volume workout routine below.

What Exactly is High Volume Training?

Before we get into your new workout plan, let’s briefly describe what high volume training is.

For starters, it’s not one specific program. Rather, high volume is a concept. And there are several training programs that revolve around the idea of high volume workouts.

The concept of high volume stems from what’s called German Volume Training (GVT). GVT is based on 10 x 10, 10 sets of 10 reps. You can read more about GVT in my post: German Volume Training 10 x 10: For Strength or Mass?

GVT is a great way to build muscle, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

However, the concept of high volume training combined with bodybuilding can work wonders for you in terms of packing on size.

Applying High Volume Workouts to Bodybuilding

Incline Barbell Press chest

What you’re getting here is a high volume bodybuilding program that triggers hypertrophy. Instead of doing 10 x 10 for an exercise (and for one body part), you’ll be doing more sets of a variety of exercises.

This is to target different angles of your muscles for a full and developed physique.

One thing to remember is that your workouts may not feel quite as intense as if you were doing shorter workouts. The goal of high volume training is to pump more blood into the muscle and break down that muscle through a series of multiple sets.

Of course, this goes against the grain of those who feel that shorter, more intense workouts are the way to go. Where that does work for some bodybuilders, many find that higher volume workouts produce better results in regards to adding size and muscle gains.

You also won’t be lifting super heavy in this program. By no means does that mean you’re going light. You still need to move some challenging weights and push yourself.

But you’re not going to be maxing out (as many are tempted to do in the gym when training heavy). That works great for strength gains but it doesn’t necessarily increase muscle size.

So as you’re going through this program, remember that your goal is to increase muscle size. Sure, you’ll get stronger as a side-effect but don’t expect to be breaking any PRs with high volume training.

Alright, let’s get to your workouts…

High Volume Bodybuilding Workout Plan

Jason Stallworth flex at Planet Fitness

You may want to go put on your gym clothes and mix up your pre-workout drink before you read any further. Because after going through this routine below, you’re going to be motivated to hit the gym!

Here are some important notes about this high volume workout plan:

  • Make sure you have protein with some complex carbs about 1-2 hours before training. You’ll need this for sustainable energy to get you through these workouts.
  • Do your cardio at a separate time that day (ex: weights in the morning, cardio in the evening, or vice-versa), or do it on your rest days. I have a cardio plan for you after the workouts below.
  • You may find that you need to bump up your carb intake with high volume training. I’ll talk more about that after the workouts section as well.
  • Rest times between sets should be around 1 minute or so for compound exercises and about 45 seconds for isolation exercises.
  • This goes without saying, but make sure you’re well-rested before doing these types of workouts.
  • Train hard, but don’t take your sets to complete muscle failure except for that final set and only for the exercises after your first compound exercise.
  • Consider taking a quality pre-workout drink that caters to boosting mental focus and energy. You can read about one of my recommended pre-workouts here: PreFierce Pre-Workout for Mental Focus and Energy.

High Volume Training Split

This workout routine is designed to have you training 5 days a week. This may sound like a lot but you’re only training each muscle once a week.

The idea is to exhaust each muscle followed by a week of rest so that the muscle can grow. This is actually a typical workout schedule for many professional bodybuilders (and there’s a reason for that!).

Here’s how your workout schedule will be:

Monday: Back
Tuesday: Chest
Wednesday: Legs
Thursday: Shoulders
Friday: Arms
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest

You can arrange this to fit your schedule. For example, if you felt like you needed a day of rest during the week you could rest on Wednesday and Thursday and train on Saturday.

High Volume Back Day

ExerciseSets x Reps
Barbell Rows2 x 10 (warm-up), 5 x 10
Dumbbell Rows5 x 10
Lat Pulldowns4 x 10
Cable Pullovers4 x 12
Seated Rows4 x 12

High Volume Chest Day

ExerciseSets x Reps
Incline Bench Press2 x 10 (warm-up), 5 x 10
Decline Bench Press5 x 10
Dumbbell Press4 x 10
Cable Flyes4 x 12
Pec Dec Flyes4 x 12

High Volume Leg Day

ExerciseSets x Reps
Squats2 x 10 (warm-up), 5 x 10
Leg Press5 x 15
Stiff-Leg Deadlifts5 x 12
Leg Extensions5 x 12
Lying Leg Curls5 x 12
Seated or Standing Calve Raises7 x 15

High Volume Shoulder Day

ExerciseSets x Reps
Seated Overhead Press2 x 10 (warm-up), 5 x 10
Seated Arnold Press5 x 10
Lateral Raises3 x 10
Bent-Over Raises3 x 10
Front Raises3 x 10

High Volume Arm Day

ExerciseSets x Reps
Cable Pressdown4 x 10
EZ Bar Curls4 x 10
Seated Overhead Dumbbell Extensions3 x 10
Preacher Curls3 x 10
Single Cable Pressdowns3 x 10
Dumbbell Hammer Curls3 x 10

Carbing Up with High Volume Training

Food - free range eggs oatmeal blueberries

I’m not going to get into the carbs vs. no carbs war. And I’m not a nutrition expert. I’m simply going to share what I do, personally. You can take or leave.

Carbs are used as a source of energy. These high volume workouts are going to take a ton of energy.

The body also uses carbs for muscle recovery. This is why many bodybuilders will have a post-workout meal or shake that’s high in both protein and carbohydrates.

So I don’t restrict carbs when I’m doing these types of workouts.

My high volume workout meal plan looks a bit like this (to be transparent, this is a typical day of eating, in general):

Meal 1 – 4:30 AM (pre-workout): Protein powder, oatmeal
Meal 2 – 7:00 AM (post-workout): Protein shake with frozen berries and a banana
Meal 3 – 9:00 AM: Eggs, cheese, and oatmeal
Meal 4 – 12:00 PM: Beef, pork, or chicken with rice and veggies
Meal 5 – 3:30 PM: Sandwich or Greek yogurt with pineapples
Meal 6 – 6:30 PM: Beef, pork, or chicken with rice and veggies
Meal 7 – 9:00 PM: Eggs

Again, I’m not telling you what you should or should not do when it comes to nutrition. This tends to be as touchy of a subject as religion and politics. Ugh! I’m only sharing what I do.

For meals and recipes that cater to the needs of bodybuilders. check out my post on Anabolic Cooking.

Cardio with High Volume Weight Training

You may be asking ‘Do I need to do cardio when I’m doing high volume weight training workouts?’

The answer really depends on you. Are you carrying too much body fat? If the answer is yes, then you should throw in some type of cardio 3-4x a week for 30-40 minutes.

If you’re a hardgainer and you’re really trying to pack on size, you can skip the cardio for now. However, if you’re older, let’s say over 35, then I would recommend still doing cardio 3x a week for 20-30 minutes.

You can mix up the types of cardio you do. Sometimes that can help keep it interesting.

For example, you may walk or jog on the treadmill (or outside!) for a couple of sessions and do a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) on the recumbent bike for another session or two. Or you may alternate methods each time you do cardio.

You really have to assess where you are with where you want to be, and be honest with yourself. Find that balance that works for you.

High Volume Training for Mass Gains

High volume workouts are definitely not the most convenient. You need to plan to be in the gym for at least an hour.

You may also have those days where you just don’t feel like doing those longer workouts. In those cases, it’s okay to back off a little on the volume for that day.

I know that doesn’t sound hardcore and all, but you also have to be sensible.

On the flip side, if you’re getting plenty of quality rest and you’re sticking to your bodybuilding meal plan for growth and recovery, those days will be few and far between.

But there’s a ‘huge’ reward for doing high volume workouts. It’s almost impossible not to make gains.

Lastly, I want to reiterate the two resources I mentioned earlier that can help you:

PreFierce: Awesome pre-workout that I use for mental focus and energy.
Anabolic Cooking: Over 200 bodybuilding recipes and meal planning tips.

Those links will take you to my review pages so that you can learn more and see if they’re for you. From there, you can order the products (I have a discount code you can use on my PreFierce blog post, so may sure you take advantage of that).

Train with Passion,

Jason