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Build Muscle with Extreme High Volume Weight Training

If you are an aspiring bodybuilder who is anxious to build slabs of thick sculptured muscle and boost your totals, then one of the most efficient ways of doing it is by using the systematic employment of the High Volume Weight Training or The Total Tonnage Training system. The following article is designed to inform the bodybuilder /powerlifter of a scientific approach to analyzing the specific intensity of ones workout to prevent overtraining and ultimately design a completely adaptable training routine. The system is called the Total Tonnage Training System and if utilized properly can assist you in constructing the perfect year round training cycle. Believe it or not even when your body is working out it is subject to the same mathematic laws that govern the entire universe. This article will start you out on learning a basic way of figuring out the threshold of intensity of a given workout. We will then dig a little bit deeper into the TT Training System and further piece together the bodybuilding / powerlifting equation to help give you the knowledge that you need to destroy your competition.

The Total Tonnage Training System is a training procedure that was developed decades ago by European Bloc coaches as a means of evaluating or measuring the phase loading workouts of their Olympic lifters. As time went on many of the western world class powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters further developed and modified this training system to adapt it to their own training protocol.

As you will quickly learn from reading this article, the Total Tonage system represents the specific wants and needs, both psycologically and physiologically for the hardcore bodybuilders + powerlifters of the 21th century.

The most basic procedure of the TT system is to record the number of sets, reps and poundages for each exercise performed and then multiply all these factors so that a Volume of loading can be determined. The following supine (standard) bench press outline is one example using the procedure just described. This example will anaylize a hypothetical bench routine of an individual with a current one rep maximum in this lift of 300 pounds. This table will be fully explained in the paragraphs which follow.

Regular Grip Bench Press
300 pounds = ‘ Maximum single Effort( MSE)’

  Col. 1

 COl. 2

 Col. 3

 Col. 4
  # of sets  # of reps

 Net Poundage

  Total gross Poundages

( NS)

(NR )


 TGP ( Volume Loading)
 1  10  210  (10 x 210 ) = 2100
 1  8  240  ( 8 x 240 ) = 1920
 1  6  255  ( 6 x 255 ) = 1530
 1  4  270  ( 4 x 270 ) = 1080
 1  2  285  ( 2 x 285 ) = 570
 1  2  285  ( 2 x 285 ) = 570
 1  10  240  (10 x 240) = 2400


 1,785 (NP)

 10,170 ( TGP)

One of the most important factors in achieving success with the TT System is to compute the threshold-of-intensity. This is accomplished in a number of ways. The first way is to compute the average amount of net poundage (N P) or mean intensity(MI) used on each of the seven sets. Simply divide the total of the net poundage lifted in Col. 3 by the total number of sets perfomed in Col. 1. 1,785 (N P) divided by 7 (N S) = 255 pounds. (MI) 255 therefore equals the mean intensity.

The next step is to determine what percentage 255 pounds, would be of the ‘ maximum single effort (MSE)’, divide this poundage into 300 pounds.
255 (MI) / 300(MSE) = .85 or 85 %
85% is your threshold of intensity for this particular workout if your one repetition maximum is 300 pounds.

A second way to compute the threshold of intensity is to calculate th relative intensity of any given net poundage (N P) listed in Col. 3. This form of measurement of a specific exercises intensity may be more familiar to the average bodybuildier / powerlifter. To explain I’ll use the top exercise poundage lifted in the aformentioned routine of 285 pounds. Divide this poundage by the ‘Maximum single effort’ of 300 pounds, [ 285/300 = .95 or 95 percent].

NOTE: Whenever you have an odd poundage always take your answer to the nearest five pound interval (ATNI); such as 302.1 would be moved to 300 whereas 303.6 would be moved to 305. For the percentageprocess round the number to the nearest whole percentage (NWP) ; 95.4 would be 95 whereas 95.6 would be 96.

A first glance at the Total Tonnage System procedure (Ref: Supine Bench press ect.) reveals ‘7’ mathematically derived and known factors:
1.Current “Maximum Single Effort” (MSE) 300 pounds
2.Number of sets (N S) 7
3.Number of total reps (N R) 42
4.Total net poundage (TNP) 1785
5.Total Gross Poundage (TGP) 10,170
6.Mean Intensity 255 pounds = .85 or 85%
7.Relative Intensity 285 pounds = .95 or 95 %

A second look back at the Total Tonnage System process Suggests that two additional factors must be considered. They are Distance (Foot pounds) and Time. Although not many bodybuilders may not really care about these factors it is important to learn the fundemental laws of physics which govern them in relation to your work out routines.

F actor 8- Distance ( Ft. Pounds)

Distance in progressive resistance exercise is the measured movement or travel of that resistance from the starting to the finishing position in the concentric or positive (+) phase of each and every rep. Within the full anatomical range of travel in the Supine Bench press a measurement is taken from the highest point on the chest to the bar when the arms are completely locked-out.

Lets assume that the measured movement or stroke to be 24 inches while using a 240 pound barbell. In physics work is defined as force ‘X’ times distance. Each one pound moved a distance of one foot is called one foot pound of work. Thus when the 240 pound barbell was pressed upward from the chest to lockout (24 inches) just one time 480 ft. pounds was produced (240 “X” 2.0 = 480 ). A formula for measuring increments of foot-pounds is as follows:

3 inches = .25 feet ; 6 inches = .50 feet ; 9 inches = .75 feet ; 12 inches = 1 feet ; 15 inches = 1.25 feet ; 18 inches = 1.5 feet ; 21 inches == 1.75 feet ; 24 inches = 2 feet ; 27 inches = 2.25 feet ; and so on.

Varying the distance on select exercise can have a rather dramatic impact on how the reps feel. For example, going from a 24 inch stroke in the bench press down to 21 inches may cause the rep(s) to feel somewhat more effortless while increasing the distance (21 to 24-inches) the reps may feel more difficult to perform.

General the time alloted for an exercise set is the calculated number of seconds it takes to move the weight in the positive(+) and negative(-) phase of a full exercise range of motion repetition(s). For many powerlifters the positive (+) phase of a rep will take 3 seconds to complete and the negative (-) phase two times slower at around 6 seconds. However, if your desire is to build maximum muscle torque coupled with huge reserves of power then accelerated high speed positive(+) phase reps are a good option.

Here is how it works. Each and every rep in the positive (+) phase should be completed as fast as possible, not with momentum, but with perfect motion and precise form (never jerky). Each and every positive (+) phase speed rep should be accurately timed(1/100’s of a second) with a stop watch. Always round the times off to the nearest 1/10th of a second. Positive(+) phase speed reps should take approximately 2 seconds each or less to complete. When the speed slows down by .10 or 10 % of the fastest time EXAMPLE: [ 2.0 sec “X” .10 = 2.02 sec], there are usually a couple of reasons for this. Both of which can have a definite effect on your current state of physical, mental and neurological prepardness as it relates to your workouts and speed reps in general.


If the rest pause between exercise sets are not long enough to allow the heart rate to drop to 102 beats per minute before beginning the next set ect. , this will definitely affect the timed performance of speed reps.

The recovery levels of the muscles and the central nervous system may not be fully completed. Proper restorative methods should be applied: Get enough sleep 8-10 hours, massage and high quality supplement intervention.
When a bodybuilder / powerlifter slows down 10% from the maximal speed rep time of even one set then a ‘fresh start’ of stimulous must be introduced. Usually this is in the form of reduced intensity. One of the best methods for accomplishing this is the following example:

Zones of training/Utilizing positive(+) Speed Reps
Zone 1

First Myofibril Zone - - 85%+ max, 3-6 rep sets (maximal/heavy)

Zone 2
Second Myofibril Zone - - 72% - 84% max, 7 - 15 rep sets (heavy/medium)

Mitochondria Zone - -50% - 71% max , 16 - 30 rep sets (medium/light)

All training sessions utilizing compound/single-joint and or isolationary/single-joint exercises begin in the zone 1 and as your rep times slows to unacceptable levels as previously discussed you change in order moving on to Zone 2 and so on to Zone 3. This of course is only a brief outline of zones of training.
Summarizing the discussion of time, lets assume that it takes 2.0 seconds to complete the positive phase of each of the consecutive speed reps in set number 7 of the supine bench press sample.This computes out to 20 seconds of accumulated positive(+) phase which is of the utmost importance in calculating the Total Tonnage System formula.

The Formula
Ref: Supine Bench Press (set No. 7)

Nine mathematically derived factors are in place and now the Total Tonnage System formula can be revealed.
Maximum single effort (MSE)300 pounds, “x”times percentage of maximum (POM) .80 = 240 , “x”times number of reps (N R)10 = 2400 pounds “x” times distance (ft. Pounds) 2.0 feet = 4800 ft. pounds, “x” times number of sets (N S) 1 = 4800 total gross Ft. pounds ( of work).

Power Output
Power is defined as force “x” times distance divided by time. ( P= FD/T ) To determine the actual power output of foot pounds lifted per second simply divide the 20 seconds of accumulated (+) phase time by 4800 total gross foot pounds [20/4800] = 240 ft. pounds per second].

When using the Total Tonnage system always try to increases the load volume of training through an adjustment of one or more of the “9” factors previously discussed. Other adjustments could include doing more sets and reps in the same allotted training period ( atraining session of high intensity should not last longer than one hour and 15 minutes. Growth hormone and testosterone levels are stimulated by such short and intense training periods).

Periodization, the proven effective training methodology, can now be applied in constructing your training cycle once you determine this threshold of intensity. This can be done by simply incorporating systematic increases of intensity to the routine. The most effective increases in intensity should be in the range of 2-3% from one workout to the next and no more than 5%. What makes this training system unique from traditional powerlifting routines is that you can increase the intensity of your workouts through many different methods. Not just the commonly used method of increasing the weights and decreasing the repetitions from week to week. By increasing the number of weights, sets, reps and distance or decreasing the time, in the aformentioned routine you can increase the level of intensity of each workout by specific increments.

Even if you choose not to incorporate the Total Tonage Training techniques into your lifting regimines it is still recommended that you learn how to utilize these techniques so that you can break down the pieces of your traing routine, anaylize it for any weaknesses, and then fine tune it to complete perfection. For instance, you may get to a point in your lifting cycle where you cant seem to hit your preplanned weights for the proper amount of reps. This may happen for a couple of weeks in a row. You then may want to examine these unsuccessful weeks of training closely with the Total Tonnage system to insure that you are incorporating the favorable 2-3% increase in intensity from each of these workouts to the next.

You must remember that we can never stop learning or improving. We can only continue our search for information because knowledge is power. Utilizing the knowledge that you attain, in the proper ways, can give you extreme results that you are looking for in weight training and in life.

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