40 Sets Per Week Per Muscle is Best?!?

If you ever wondered what the perfect volume per week is for building muscle, then you are going to want to watch this new video. Find out how many sets and reps should be done per muscle group per week in order to see the most muscle gains. Muscle building science can be quite confusing when it comes to the topic of muscle growth and workout volume. Here we will try and decode the information to give you the best approach to succeed in your workouts.

It starts with understanding the interplay between volume and intensity. First of all, intensity by definition is simply a representation of the amount of weight that you are lifting. This is often represented in one of two ways. Either as a percentage of your one rep max or as RPE, or the perceived exertion and gauge of your effort in relation to your best effort.

The volume is referring to the sets and reps that are performed.

Arbitrarily this tends to be discussed with one week as the time frame. This is truly arbitrary since some training splits don’t even get all of the muscles trained within that one week time. That said, the majority of splits do tend to complete their cycle of workouts within the 7 day time frame and therefore this is used as a reference point for discussion.

Where things get a little more confusing and interesting at the same time is when the volume discussion starts to split out into the amount required by one muscle group vs. another. There is still a lot of conflicting information here. The bigger, broader question however of total volume on average needed for a muscle group to grow needs to be answered.

Currently, research points us to very differing opinions on this number. Some of the greatest strength and conditioning researchers in the world have concluded that total sets as low as 6 per muscle group can be effective in creating overload and stimulus for new muscle growth. Other, newer research indicates that more is better…a lot more. Some have argued that the ideal amount of volume for building muscle is upwards of 45 sets per muscle, per week. This seems like an insanely high amount of sets and reps performed in order to grow muscle.

Add to that that in these studies, each of the sets performed was taken to failure.

As you’ll see in this video, the interplay between volume and intensity is real. I say all the time, you can either train hard or you can train long but you can’t do both. If the volume is incredibly high, then the intensity is going to have to be low in order to allow you to make gains and recover in between workouts without breaking down. On the contrary, if you train at a super high intensity, then the volume has to be low in order to prevent overtraining and muscle breakdown to a point of irreparable damage.

What makes the high volume side of the equation a poor approach is the amount of junk volume that comes along with it. Sure, the higher number of sets and reps performed makes it easier to ensure that you are getting adequate workout volume to stimulate new muscle tissue. That said, if the junk volume that comes along with it is also having a detrimental effect on your joint health and recovery, then it is potentially doing more harm than good.

Likewise, if the effort is so high that you cannot properly recover or that your workout frequency has to be spread so far apart that you are performing far fewer workouts in a calendar year for example, then you are providing yourself fewer opportunities for muscle protein synthesis. Neither place represents an ideal spot to try and make gains with in your training.

The solution, as is often the case, lies in the middle. In the case of the X diagram shown in this video, that is where you want to be. Stimulating with enough sets and reps while still not delving into the area of useless reps. This is where drop sets and effective rep training (as was demonstrated in my 100 series workouts) is effective for building muscle while maximizing effort.

If you find this approach to be intriguing and want to learn more, head to athleanx.com via the link below and get the new Beaxst PPL program. It features a push, pull legs split where effective volume is the rule. We help you optimize the volume and intensity in your workouts to give you nothing but gains, leaving the pains for other programs.

If you are looking for a perfect chest workout, or more information on whether heavy weights or light weights are best for building muscle, be sure to subscribe to our youtube channel via the link below and turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it is published.

Build Muscle in 90 Days – http://athleanx.com/x/my-workouts
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35 thoughts on “40 Sets Per Week Per Muscle is Best?!?

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Leave your most burning question about this video or any other training, PT or nutrition question within the first 2 hours of this video’s release (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!!) and I will pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

    • Anil Morisetti says:

      I have medical issues that severely impact my sleep quality and length. Is there a way to better adjust my workout routine to accommodate this issue while I wait for a solution?

    • Vaibhav Tadikamalla says:

      jeff bro plzzzz answer this…….,,how to increase strength not hypertrophy and endurance i want strength like strength is my primary goal
      can u also talk about static holds…..drop sets……partial reps…….carrying angle etc

    • SlamCrash says:

      Hey Jeff, I have some minor scoliosis and spindolosis that gives me a bit of pain when preforming bench press and overhead press, which often leads to strain or injury. Could you do a video helping us to identify scoliosis/spindolosis and how we should train with it? Thanks!

    • D says:

      Thoughts about boosting testosterone through “natural sources” (Tongkat Ali) and the research that backs it up?
      I always came from the idea that you lose some weight/diet right, sort your mental health out, and get at least 7 hours of sleep a night THEN get exogenous sources.

  2. Jared Jordan says:

    This is from Jeff’s new Beaxst PPL program. Just 2 days in and absolutely loving these workouts. Every time I think he can’t outdo himself, he does. Jeff thank you for leading the way. You’re in a class of your own.

    • Nom Nom says:

      @Brandon May My man, you’re the one who misunderstood.

      2x 50% drop means you drop half the weight then try to complete twice the reps from before you drop that weight. (Same technique in Ultimate Arm).

      There’s no mention that you gotta drop the weight twice. You think 2x means drop the weight twice instead of doing double reps?

      He even gave examples:
      1st drop set: 4 -> 8
      2nd drop set: 10-> 20

      Just watch the video, everyone.

    • Nom Nom says:

      @Iso blue
      You only drop the weight once then do 2x reps, rest then move on to next drop set. (You don’t drop the weight twice in the same drop set)

      1st dropset: 3-5 -> 6-10
      2nd dropset: 6-10 -> 12-20
      3rd dropset: 6-10 -> 12-20

    • Iso blue says:

      @Nom Nom oh ok I see now that I completely misunderstood, my question must have confused you. I got it now. Thanks.

    • Brandon May says:

      Does the program utilize deadlifts? That and back squats I am forbidden from doing due to multiple spinal surgeries. I have a squat workaround but not sure what a deadlift workaround would be.

  3. Peter Parker says:

    I like to start with many for warm-up but I go to failure, then one medium (12ish) to failure. Then heavy (5-6ish) to failure for strenghet. I also do more high-rep sets first week after a deload. Works great.

  4. PB ART says:

    For those wondering, this is exactly how Jeff does his programs. Breakdowns for each workout and everything is laid out day after day.

  5. Michael Barletta says:

    I’d love to see a video curating all the best corrective exercises for the whole body and when to do each on which days and how that changes based on your split. It’s right up your alley.

  6. InStrong Workout says:

    *You are the man who tought me almost everything in fitness! Huge thank you! Now working out almost every day and I really love it! Enev started to film some workout guides for begginers to help them like u helped me one day*

  7. Charlie Piston says:

    What’s the perfect volume or methods for building tendons? I’m just now learning how extremely important building tendon strength is and that training for tendons is a bit different than training focused primarily on muscles. I’ve have a tendency towards achilles tendinopathy and sometimes plantar fasciatis. I’ve heard that loaded isometrics can be good and also plyometrics. Also that recovery time for tendons and ligaments is much longer than for muscle. Your insight would be appreciated. You have a very informative show. Thanks.

  8. Nom Nom says:

    0:32 There’s no perfect number
    1:33 High Intensity Low Volume
    2:17 Low Intensity High Volume
    2:50 Balance of Intensity, Volume
    3:17 High Volume Disadvantage
    4:02 High Intensity Disadvantage
    4:40 For Beginner
    5:05 For Advanced

    5:25 Push Workout Example (from program Beast II: PPL)
    3 Compound Exercises for 3 Straight Sets (Strength) + 3 Isolation Exercises for 3 Drop Sets (Hypertrophy)
    5:43 RPE Technique for Advanced
    6:52 RIR and why you don’t have to go failure on low rep range
    8:20 High Intensity Drop set
    9:11 Form Failure
    10:05 Mechanical Failure
    11:15 Finisher
    11:53 Corrective Exercise

    12:40 Questions to ask yourself
    13:00 High Intensity Example
    13:12 High Volume Example
    13:30 Find Your Balance for Sustainability and Longevity

  9. William Roe says:

    Burning question. Hi Jeff, a couple of months back I went down a rabbit hole and tore a ligament or two in my ankle. Two months on it still hurts to swim and I am worried about leg day. Tried a squat with no weight and it still feels tight. Other than the obvious machine stuff, are there any exercises I can do without using or hurting it. I’m missing my Bulgarian split squats!

  10. Daniel Mulero says:

    Jeff, you always manage to either teach new concepts or to view previous concepts from a different perspective. I love the idea of sustainable training… especially if it’s effective. Your approach has worked wonders for me! Thank you

  11. T says:

    I’ve always been a hardgainer but I’ve been using the training style from your ‘100 Arm Workout’ for my arms shoulders and back for about a month and I’m finally seeing massive gains!!!

  12. Naqeeb barekzai says:

    Hello Jeff cavalier I want to thank you for all the info you give me via YouTube I’ve started resistance/strength/bodybuilding a few years ago and every thing you say has helped along this journey, may god almighty bless you.

  13. Bryant Marroquin says:

    Jeff thanks so much for your videos. Your videos and expertise have completely transformed my life. I used to be the insecure person, slightly overweigh and never had any confidence. Ever since i started training and following your tips i have seen the gains coming. I look different and at 35 am in the best form i have ever been in, feel confident and feel good about myseld. Jesse is a true inspiration for me as well as i see how he grew with hard work and dedication. Thank you so much and keep up the good work.

  14. It's Just Me says:

    Great video. One factor that greatly influences the intensity level and how long the workout lasts is rest time between sets. How long would you recommend resting between the sets in the sample workout you provided in the video?

  15. Norman Konstantin says:

    It is true. Volume will be very individual, but intensity will be non-negotiable the more advanced you get just to keep the stimulus the same.
    For beginner it is definitely important to learn what failure feels like otherwise they will never understand why they can’t go past this “intermediate” phase.
    I find this video really good to break down the variables. Thank you.

  16. kuhen25 says:

    12 sets per week works best for me. I do push, pull, legs. Each body part 2 exercises of 3 sets each. The last set of each exercise I go to absolute failure and beyond. Which means 4 sets which are VERY close to failure and 2 sets beyond failure. I think 6-8 sets are about at the limit if you’re going so close to failure (and beyond) like that.

    So since I’m doing PPL, PPL and rest on Sundays, I am doing 12 sets in total for each body part.

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