In Joe Manganiello fitness book, Evolution, he advocates an intensive circuit of supersets using low weight. An example is

  • Bench Press followed by Lat Pulldown
  • 20 reps of each without rest
  • 15 reps of each without rest
  • 12 reps of each without rest
  • 10 reps of each without rest
  • 5 reps of each without rest
  • 8 reps of each without rest
  • 16 reps of each without rest

This superset pyramid + reverse pyramid forms the majority of the circuits with a few minor variations.

It is recommended that weight lifters use low to moderate weight and Joe M, who seems truly genuine, maintains that it will lead to significant hypertrophy. His claims are actually more emphatic but I will leave it to readers.

However this seems contrary to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.

Setting aside calorific and protein intake; will this approach yield significant strength and size gains or will the benefits be primarily in endurance and cardiovascular improvements (it is punishing).

  • Can you explain what you mean by the statement "this seems contrary to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy"? Sep 10, 2021 at 3:22
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    From my understanding some of the bodybuilders from the 60s trained like this: Serge Nubret and Frank Zane. I think it is called pump training. I would think that training this way would be hard and time consuming and lead to significant hypertrophy but less max strength. Also I think it may be easier on the joints than powerlifting style training.
    – Andy
    Sep 10, 2021 at 13:46
  • Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy..where muscles are filled with blood and nutrients as much as possible due to lifting as heavy as possible within max range. A similar pump is not as pronounced lifting lighter weights as the effect is not as extreme. Sep 11, 2021 at 9:47
  • The distinction is usually made between saroplasmic hypertrophy associated with bodybuilding and myofibrillar hypertrophy associated with powerlifting. The sarcoplasma provides the muscle with energy, whereas the myofibrils produce the force. When training with little rest, the energy supply becomes the limiting factor. Therefore the style of training you discuss with medium heavy weights and little rest should result in sarcoplasmic hypertrophy but not so much myofibrillar hypertrophy. However the rep range is a bit high which could result in a combination of hypertrophy and leanness.
    – Andy
    Sep 11, 2021 at 17:38

2 Answers 2


Generally, any lifting program with progressive overload will produce hypertrophy in some manner.

It is impossible to state whether or not this (or any exercise) will produce hypertrophy without effort and progression details.

I recommend you read the "Types Of Muscle Hypertrophy" and "Training Variables And Muscle Hypertrophy" of the linked article below, from which I am including excerpts, emphasis mine.


The majority of exercise-induced hypertrophy subsequent to traditional resistance training programs results from an increase of sarcomeres and myofibrils added in parallel (135,179). When skeletal muscle is subjected to an overload stimulus, it causes perturbations in myofibers and the related extracellular matrix. This sets off a chain of myogenic events that ultimately leads to an increase in the size and amounts of the myofibrillar contractile proteins actin and myosin, and the total number of sarcomeres in parallel. This, in turn, augments the diameter of individual fibers and thereby results in an increase in muscle cross-sectional area (182).

The use of high repetitions has generally proven to be inferior to moderate and lower repetition ranges in eliciting increases in muscle hypertrophy (24,71). In the absence of artificially induced ischemia (i.e., occlusion training), a load less than approximately 65% of 1RM is not considered sufficient to promote substantial hypertrophy (115).

Whether low reps or moderate reps evoke a greater hypertrophic response has been a matter of debate, and both produce significant gains in muscle growth (24) However, there is a prevailing belief that a moderate range of approximately 6-12 reps optimizes the hypertrophic response (86,89,205).

Higher-volume, multiple-set protocols have consistently proven superior over single set protocols with respect to increased muscle hypertrophy (97,197).

As to your specific question, "Will this approach yield significant strength and size gains?", the answer is yes. It will with correct effort/intensity (>65% 1RM) and progressive overload. It may not be the optimal structure, but it will increase size and strength.

Also worth noting that research on the mechanisms and effects of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy has not reached any kind of conclusive consensus: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7372125/


Fixed repetitions, no rest. Which means you can only progress by making the repetitions slower or by increasing weight.

If any kind of progressive overload is happening you will build muscle regardless of the method used. As for this method particularly, there are some studies suggesting supersets in with antagonistic muscles can help you increase strength by forcing more blood and nutrients in the limb.

Aka you will bench more weight if your arms are already pumped with nutritious blood from the lat pull downs.

The pump itself is usually enough to guarantee minimal amounts of muscle growth, a pump by itself with no progressive overload still builds muscle but way slower. As for significant hypertrophy, just make sure to overload and you will grow.

I think it's worthless citing studies here because, I've seen some interviews with test subjects and scientists saying that people in fitness studies usually train way harder and above what people normally do.

So any study proving that X thing can build muscle, take it with a grain of salt because certainly the people in the studies did not train as easy as the average gym goer does, they tend to take everything to the exteme just to be sure

  • FWIW, studies are generally highly controlled, and select ranges of cohorts to control for bias; that’s the point of studies. Sep 15, 2021 at 19:40

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