2023 World’s Strongest Man (WSM) Mitchell Hooper had a dominant 2023 strongman season. During that time, he expanded his YouTube channel to become a go-to resource for strength training. Hooper routinely uses science and data to back up his claims about training, recovery, and nutrition.
On Nov. 15, 2023, Hooper offered advice regarding training volume and why those who watch his channel should probably train more than him. Check it out below:
Hooper trains in the gym for roughly 12 hours per week. Most of that time is spent racking and unracking weight plates and performing general exercise setups. In a typical training session, he’ll perform about five working sets. Add in rest times, and it’s approximately 35 to 45 minutes of training.
Hooper explained that strongman training taxes the body’s nervous system more than its muscular structure. That means lifting at 90 percent of a person’s one-rep max will eventually burn out the nervous system, especially as weight increases.
Since the nerves are pivotal for moving the body, performing heavy compound lifts necessitates a ton of nervous system coordination. In other words, strongman training is focused on movements, not muscles. The goal is strength, no aesthetics; therefore, more training volume is required if the goal is hypertrophy.
Why Novice Lifters Should Train More
Just because Hooper does five working sets in a given workout doesn’t mean it’s a panacea for everyone. Hooper’s training volume “is not near enough for novice lifters.” He recommends training in the style, frequency, and volume that’s most consistent to spur muscle growth.
A strength training regimen doesn’t work if the person isn’t going to the gym consistently. The best programming adheres to one’s lifestyle and is done with reasonable effort. The effort will develop over time as one’s “perceived exertion” improves in the gym.
Training for size requires higher volume. Hooper recommends 10-15 working sets per week, each in the one to eight-rep range. A “working set,” is lifting with a near-maximum effort via progressive overload. This allows one to maximize their nervous system training without burning out.
A 2019 study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that a higher training volume of 28-30 sets per muscle group produced more muscle growth than a lower training volume of six to 10 working sets per week in both trained and untrained individuals. (1)
Hooper trains more during his off-season to work on muscular effort — less focus on his nervous system. He trains six days per week with 20-25 working sets per session. While these are surface-level recommendations, time invested in the gym and training correctly is vital. No one wants to waste time in the gym, so performing a sufficient number of working sets should lead to improved muscle growth.
- Krzysztofik, M., Wilk, M., Wojdała, G., & Gołaś, A. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4897. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244897.
Featured image: @mitchellhooper on Instagram
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