For purposes of increasing muscular size and strength, what is the best way to train for the majority of people? I say "majority" since the truth is, there is no ideal way to train for everyone, no "one size fits all" type of training pattern. As such, some respond better to high intensity, low volume styles of training. Others find that using a higher volume of training produces greater gains in muscular size and strength. The term "volume" refers to how many sets, exercises, and repetitions per set constitute any particular training program. The meaning of "intensity" is a bit more ambiguous. To some, just putting in a lot of effort in the gym equals a "high intensity training session." To others, the word intensity means training with heavier weights and doing each set to complete and total muscular failure, where the weight cannot be moved at all because of muscular failure. Those who espouse what is called "High Intensity Training," or simply, HIT, say that, because of the extreme level of effort required to train any muscle to complete failure, it mandates reduced training volume and frequency. The primary proponents of HIT, such as Arthur Jones, an eccentric Florida-based entrepreneur, who died at age 80 in 2007, and his acolytes, such as professional bodybuilders Mike Mentzer, the only man to win the Mr.Universe contest with a perfect score, and 6-times Mr.Olympia, Dorian Yates of Britain, say that the ultra high intensity that is characteristic of HIT mandates a low volume of training, both out of necessity (the muscle fails) as well as to foster maximal exercise recovery.Others, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, who I hope would need no introduction, favored a higher volume, but lower intensity style of training. I have trained with Arnold during the peak years of his bodybuilding career, and while he certainly did favor a high volume style that averaged about 20 sets per muscle group, trained twice per week, he rarely, if ever, trained each set to failure. But prior to any of his six Mr.Olympia victories, Arnold most certainly trained with a high level of intensity, just not to failure. Arnold never discussed why he didn't train to failure, but my guess is that it would have limited the volume of training he was capable of. Arnold, like most other bodybuilders of his era, was convinced that you needed to do a certain level of volume to optimally stimulate muscle growth.
Stimulating muscle growth was a key concept in the manner in which Arnold and the others at the original Gold's gym in Venice, California trained. They were not directly interested in gaining muscular strength, feeling that getting stronger was more in the purview of those engaged in strength competition, such as powerlifters and Olympic weightlifters. What Arnold and the others at Gold's sought was muscle, and . . .