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Background

I work out in a well-equipped gym 4 times per week, and this question is about weightlifting in particular.

When I work out, I'm always painfully aware of what my weaknesses are, and I want to be able to catch them up in a way that makes sense.

The concept of "weakness" in this context should be understood as

  • an exercise that is disproportionately lagging behind or

  • an aesthetic shortcoming, e.g. visually underdeveloped deltoids

My idea

I'm going to try and stimulate my weakness by performing 1000 repetitions of said exercise or an exercise for said muscle group, over the next 10 workouts.

After one such cycle, I will find a different weakness, because it would likely be disastrous if I were to continue with the same one for consecutive cycles.

This regimen will not replace a normal workout plan, but rather be done as an auxilliary type movement, with a very modest choice in weight. I.e. I will continue training my entire body.

Any exercise chosen will be a compound lift, and not an isolation exercise.

For example, if I deem my deltoids underdeveloped, I will attempt to fix this, not by lateral raises, but with military press, shoulder press, or maybe jerks.

Caveat

For reasons of self-preservation, I'd likely not attempt this with the heaviest of heavy lifts. Specifically, I'm thinking of excluding deadlifts from this regimen.

Question

Are there any concerns about this idea that can be attributed to documented cases of this going wrong?

Naturally, success stories are equally, if not more desirable.

Side notes

In order to avoid this being flagged as opinion-based, I'm looking for concerns based on research. Anecdotal evidence, if documented, is also welcome of course.

Also, as a solid answer might require more information, please ask and give me the opportunity to elaborate, rather than flagging on sight.

  • Can you comment on your training experience and aversion to doing isolation movements? – rrirower Oct 11 '16 at 13:18
  • 4 years experience. No aversion to isolation exercises, only in the context of this particular approach. – Alec Oct 11 '16 at 15:43
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I read and re-read your post looking for something positive from your 1000 repetition plan. As a former ACE certified trainer, I decided to offer my critique (opinion) based on anecdotal experience.

If you were my client, I would try to persuade you to not add 1000 repetitions to an existing program. Here's why:

  1. 10 workouts, in my opinion, is too short to expect noticeable improvement.
  2. Adding 1000 repetitions onto an existing program adds the risk of over training.
  3. That many extra reps can lead to overuse syndrome due to the increase in volume.

Instead, I would first have you look at body part prioritization. By training a lagging body part first in your sessions, you should have plenty of energy to attack that body part. Simply rearranging your routine may also help to force new growth as the body will need to adapt to a newer sequence of exercises.

I know you've indicated that you are not interested in isolation movements, but, I think you're missing an opportunity to really fine tune specific muscle groups. Rather than doing only compound movements, I would suggest you mix in isolation movements as well. Granted, there's more bang for your buck with compound movements, but, isolation movements allow you to segregate the work load so that you can target a specific muscle group. When thinking of isolation movements, I think back to Arnold Schwarzenegger comparing himself to a sculptor in Pumping Iron. Arnold offered that a bodybuilder is like a sculptor because he looks in the mirror and decides what body part is lacking and performs specific exercises to improve that body part. In terms of aesthetic improvement, I would definitely suggest you look to mix in isolation movements.

If you're still unsure about isolation movements, I would have you take a look at "A comparison of strength and muscle mass increases during resistance training in young women", a study that compared compound movements with isolation movements. The study showed that isolation movements may help with strength and hypertrophy gains.

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  • I think you bring up some valid points. But I'm concerned that you still have the notion that I have something against isolation exercises. Like I mentioned in an earlier comment on the question itself, I have no aversion to them. It was just that if I'm going to add some high volume work at the start of a session, a compound exercise would yield better results. Still, I see the reason in your answer. My only worry is that doing it with isolation movements is going to have me spend significantly more time on it. – Alec Oct 14 '16 at 7:20
  • @Alec I'm not sure I understand your time concern. Can you elaborate on it? Specifically, why you think substituting isolation work for compound work would increase the time. – rrirower Oct 14 '16 at 14:31
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Welcome to the boring-but-big method!

(more correctly, a modified version of it)

BBB is a assistance program for traditional intermediate strength workouts (5/3/1 being where this was popularised). The concept was made popular by Jim Wendler though his version of 5/3/1 and you can read more in his book.

However, by aiming for 1000 over 10 workouts you will end up doing 10x10 instead of 5x10 (sets x reps). This method is closer to German Volume training, which focuses on using 10x10 for main lifts.

Personally, you only really want to be doing 10 sets of anything if you are looking to push lower working weight (60% 1RM) and stimulate growth. Jim makes it clear that he only does 5 sets because more would be counterproductive to your other exercises and you could use the second 5x10 to effectively develop another portion of your lifts.

IT's also worth noting the different volume stimulates muscles differently. People regularly accept that for calf raises you should aim for ~50 reps total per session but for Squat, 20-30 reps is enough.

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  • So essentially, this method is more appropriate for aesthetic reasons than performance? – Alec Oct 11 '16 at 10:18
  • I'd say yes, the effectiveness of GVT is up for discussion at an academic level but it does stimulate a lot of growth but no optimal strength gains in intermediate lifters. Arnie attributes a lot of his size to GVT supported by gear, but for his size he is not very strong compared to powerlifters in the same weight class. IMO GVT on assistance exercises is overkill if you aren't bulking really hard and/or on gear. – John Oct 11 '16 at 10:22
  • As I mentioned though, I never intended to do this for assistance exercises, but even if I do it with say military press, it sounds like 5x10 (500 reps per 10 workouts) would be more in line with the aesthetic goals. Perhaps 10x10 is overkill even with compound lifts? – Alec Oct 11 '16 at 10:31
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    Misunderstanding here, 5x10 is suitable for developing strength and size, 10x10 is optimal for size (its not as cut and dray as that but is generally accepted) 10x10 is overkill on anything imo – John Oct 11 '16 at 11:25

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