Christian Thibadeau ( in the book "Black book of training secrets" ) recommends that people who have fast twitch muscle fibers should do more heavier weights with less reps to get the maximum gains. Does this really matter ?

From my own personal experience when I recently moved over to the 'Starting strength' program(Heavy weights, less reps) I made tremendous gains. Earlier I had spent years on the 8-12 rep range which body builders follow without much gains. Since I benefited from the lower rep range Christian says that I am fast twitch dominant and will not benefit from more reps.

However now I feel that even though I have a lot of muscle mass, my muscles lack the hardness that most body builders demonstrate. A friend of mine recommended me to try the 'German Volume training' program to improve muscle shape and hardness.

Does any one have experience with GVT and thinks that I might benefit even if I am fast twitch dominant.

  • 4
    your muscles appear to lack the hardness because you aren't cutting weight before a competition. bodybuilders look soft most of the time
    – Robin Ashe
    Oct 5, 2012 at 8:26
  • You say you had been working in the 8-12 rep range previously, but was that with compound barbell exercises, or isolation exercises on machines? Oct 5, 2012 at 15:04
  • @Dave Liepmann : I did all type of BS. Barbells, free weights, machines. So you can say approx 30% barbell work i used to do. I guess I used to do more isolation exercises which left me energy drained. With SS, I leave the Gym with a lot of energy left in me.
    – Geek
    Oct 6, 2012 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


It's very possible that your progress with the Starting Strength model has more to do with a focused approach rather than being predisposed to a certain rep range.

Starting Strength does only a few exercises, with very little variation from workout to workout. That sounds like a big change from your prior training. Maybe that's a major chunk of the new-found progress.

It's also the case that nearly everyone who hasn't done a basic compound progression does well on it. That's just how novice linear progressions work: focus on adding weight on a few heavy full-body exercises. The reps are kept moderately low, but that's only part of the difference. It's possible that once you've completed your novice progression (the last workouts of which, I warn you, should leave you brutally drained) you'll find that you do better with a lower rep range, such as doubles and triples. Or maybe the 8-12 range will suit you better.

I would recommend against basing your perception of the types of muscle fibers you have on your progress with Starting Strength. Maybe you're fast-twitch dominant; maybe you aren't. This isn't the time or way to tell.

As to muscle hardness, that's probably because if you're following the Starting Strength program properly, you're eating like a horse and adding some fat as well as muscle. Good. That means you won't look as "hard" or lean as a bodybuilder, because you're prioritizing size and strength at this stage. Later, you can cut weight and your muscles will again look "hard" once the fat is not obscuring them.

I am not familiar with German volume training so cannot advise you on that point.

  • Thanks Dave, I do agree. May be I should not worry too much about 'fast twitch' etc. Some how moving over to other program doesn't sound like a good idea. My problem is I would want to lose some fat while being on Starting strength. I spent my day searching the SS forums on how to do it and I wasn't convinced with some of the answers. Do you have any suggestions ?
    – Geek
    Oct 6, 2012 at 20:37
  • @Geek A novice linear progression is not the time to lose fat unless you're fairly overweight. If you aren't, and still want your program to do so, I'd advise a LeanGains diet & lifting program. This second question would be a good post on its own :) Oct 7, 2012 at 0:27
  • Thanks Dave, it is true that cutting fat on linear progression will halt the progress. Currently all my lifts are close to 200 pounds in the 5 rep range which is enough strength for basic activities of life like moving objects or travelling. Also I don't want to cut a lot of fat, may be a couple of inches on the mid section. I gained 20 pounds on SS in 3 months, if i lose 5-7 pounds, I might be back in shape. I am thinking of adding biceps & abs work on off days to SS program to burn a few calories. Do you think it will work ?
    – Geek
    Oct 7, 2012 at 19:02
  • @Geek I've never done anything like that, so I'm not sure. Personally I'd try sprints, 20-rep squats, and other metcon type workouts in order to lean out instead. For biceps I'd just do more chin-ups. Oct 7, 2012 at 19:16

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