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Weak Point Training, Pull Ups, Bigger Lats & More Volume

For years I have been preaching that the optimal route to improved physique, strength or endurance results is to perform the maximum amount of training volume without exceeding your body’s ability to optimally recover.

In other words, train as much and as hard as you can, but never train to a level that prevents you from fully recovering in time for the next training session.

It doesn’t really matter what your goal is. If you want to lose fat, you are better to burn it off through exercise than to starve it off (though the quality & quantity of your food intake will always be of critical importance). If you want to build muscle, you should adjust your nutrient intake accordingly, but the more stress you can put on your muscles the better – Providing you allow for a full recovery of both the muscles and nervous system.

You don’t develop from training; you develop by recovering from training.

Similarly, if there is a muscle group that is lagging or a key movement that is not up to scratch, then additional time on that movement could be useful due to additional stress to be recovered from and improved motor units and neural pathways to the associated muscles.

One of my personal weaknesses has always been pull ups. I have generally been able to go fairly heavy on weighted pull ups for low reps, but regardless of how low the weight gets higher reps have always been a struggle.

That could be partially down to my balance of fibre types, but I feel it is more to do with the fact that my shoulders and arms are dominating the movement. My horizontal pull has always been strong, but my movement in a vertical plane is less than optimal. So for low repetitions I am able to focus on keeping the correct movement patterns and pulling though my lats, but as the reps increase it becomes more about getting my body up and less about how.

It is something that has never really bothered me greatly as I have no physical need to be able to do lots of pull ups and there are other ways to develop the muscles. However, with the idea of increasing volume without affecting my ability to recover, I decided to experiment with pull-ups as the initial tool.

The idea was to continue to train as normal, but in addition add in a further exercise (in this case bodyweight pull ups) throughout the rest of the day, but never going anywhere near failure. Have a set volume for the month and continue to do non failure sets until that target was reached.

I was able to do 9 pull ups with good form whilst maintaining my mind muscle connection. Rep 10 was possible but was less controlled. So I targeted 4 rep sets for a monthly total of 1000.

By staying away from fatigue it meant my system should need minutes rather than hours to fully recover and so it would not affect my main workouts. If at any point that started to happen I would look to either cut back or stop the additional volume.

In the end I completed 1000 reps in 26 days.

The result was a noticeable increase in the size and width at the top of my lats. Much more so than I had anticipated. Some of this was essentially a constant pump, but after a further 6 days with zero training on my lats and no more pull ups, the difference remained noticalbe.

Once the muscle soreness had completely disappeared (which took about a week) I re-tested my maximum pull ups and found I had added 2 reps, allowing me to achieve 11 with good form.

So in theory it was going to be a useful training tool and in practice it seems to have been worthwhile. There were a number of interesting factors that came up through the process and things tweaks that may be needed, but the principle remains strong.

I would therefore encourage you to try this out for yourself. If nothing else, it makes you do something every day. So it will either add to your training and therefore your results or, if you are the type of person who gets caught up with work or other issues that keep you from getting to the gym then (after re-reading This Article) you could simply add in a bodyweight exercise that you can do and should you miss your scheduled training, at least you are doing something to keep you moving forwards.

I found using Twitter extremely useful for remaining accountable. I used hashtag #DCSaddVolume to group my tweets and I would encourage you to do the same. If enough people start doing it, then it will allow a community of accountability and it also helps you keep track of where you are in your monthly totals.

I have continued this method beyond the initial month, so if you want keep up to date with my progress or indeed any other daily fitness updates and other random stuff, be sure to follow @DCSfit.

I’ll be following up shortly with a full article on this process, how to set it up and the nuances of the technique. So check back regularly.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, queries or comments on this method, the floor is yours, post below and get the ball rolling.

And remember, if you want to start tracking your own additional volume training, the hashtag to use is #DCSaddVolume.

Until next time, go do more!

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