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Old School Bodybuilding Program (OSB)

An innovative combination of two classic techniques – High Intensity Training (HIT) and High Volume Training (HVT) – to build massive muscle in 6 weeks.

Old School Bodybuilding

Old School Bodybuilding (OSB) Program Snapshot

  • Length: 6 weeks
  • Workouts per Week: 4/6 – 4 weekly workouts in Weeks 1, 3, 5 – 6 weekly workouts in Weeks 2, 4, 6.
  • Training Split: 4-day split in Weeks 1, 3,  5; 6-day split in Weeks 2, 4, 6.
  • Equipment: Commercial gym or well-equipped home gym.
  • Featured Techniques: High Intensity Training (HIT) in Weeks 1, 3, 5, and High Volume Training (HVT) in Weeks 2, 4, 6. With HIT, specific intensity-boosting techniques used are rest-pauses, drop sets, and forced reps.
  • Rep Ranges: In HIT workouts, rep counts vary; the first part of each working set will be around 6 reps, and then you'll do rest-pauses, drop sets, and forced reps (if training with a partner) after that. In HVT workouts, you'll follow a reverse-linear periodization model, doing 10 reps per set in Week 2, 15 reps per set in Week 4, and 20 reps per set in Week 6.
  • Rest Periods: 2-3 minutes rest between sets in HIT workouts; 1-2 minutes rest between sets in HVT workouts.
  • Cardio: Optional; cardioacceleration between sets (Weeks 2, 4, 6), or HIIT cardio at the end of the workout.
  • Meal Plan: Muscle-Building Rules to maximize mass-gaining; Dieting 101 or Intermittent Fasting to maximize fat loss.
  • Summary: Old School Bodybuilding (OSB) is an expertly-formulated combination of two classic bodybuilding protocols from the 1970s and 1980s: High Intensity Training (HIT) and High Volume Training (HVT). The two protocols are alternated each – you'll do HIT in Weeks 1, 3 and 5, and HVT in Weeks 2, 4 and 6. The primary goal of the OSB program is maximizing mass-gaining by properly utilizing intensity and volume in your workouts.
  • Note: If you’re a beginner or just getting back to the gym after an extended time away (months or years), this program will likely be too intense/advanced for you. If you’re a beginner, consider my Beginner to Advanced Program before taking on OSB.

I’m going back to classic bodybuilding principles for this mass-building program because, plain and simple, these principles work!

You can’t maximize muscle mass without adequate volume and intensity in your workouts, and the best physique athletes in the world during bodybuilding’s golden ages of the 1970s and ‘80s understood these training variables better than anyone.

Two old school bodybuilding protocols in particular are alternated in this 6-week program: High Volume Training (HVT for short) and High Intensity Training (HIT, not to be confused with HIIT cardio). Hence, the name Old School Bodybuilding (OSB for short).

HVT and HIT are both highly effective at building muscles (albeit in different ways), and both are backed by exercise science in the lab as well as real world application in the gym. That’s why I continue to be a huge fan of these training styles, decades after they first became popular, and why I created this unique program.

HVT and HIT worked 40, 50 years ago, and they still work today – not just for seasoned bodybuilders, but for any dedicated gym rat willing to put in the work. 

For the next 6 weeks, go old school with your training with OSB to build new muscle… and lots of it!

High Volume Training and High Intensity Training: Classic Mass-Gaining Combo

Having a PhD and having done research in such places as the Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale School of Medicine, I’m all about training techniques that have been tested in the lab.

But before scientists were even bothering to study how muscles grow bigger and get stronger, bodybuilders were in their own labs – gyms – figuring out what worked and didn’t work.

Bodybuilders over the ages have figured out pretty well – without the help of microscopes, muscle biopsies or EMG – how to build muscle. And back in the heyday of bodybuilding (the 1970s and 80’s), when the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Olivia, Casey Viator, Mike Mentzer, and Dorian Yates were competing, two of the most popular styles of bodybuilding training were High Volume Training (HVT) and High Intensity Training (HIT).

What is High Volume Training?

When it comes to HVT, think of Arnold, Franco Columbo, and Robby Robinson training in the gym for what seemed like hours in the documentary Pumping Iron. They trained with a lot of variety, numerous exercises for each muscle group, lots of sets, and often high reps.

The benefit of HVT is that each muscle group gets hit from all angles… and you get a hell of a pump. The downside is that it’s time consuming and the workouts can really drag on. Anyone familiar with the training habits of Arnold, Franco, and other bodybuilders from that era know that those guys used to spend 2-3 hours in the gym at a time, six days a day, and often twice a day.

Not only are super long workouts impractical for most peoples’ schedules, but the results may not be worth it even if you do have the time. Depending on the individual, HVT may be too much volume, which can diminish muscle gains.

What is High Intensity Training?

While Arnold was spending hours a day in the gym, other bodybuilders like Casey Viator and Mike Mentzer were taking an opposite approach to lifting with HIT, where less is more. Based on theories by Nautilus founder Arthur Jones, HIT involves doing only one working set of an exercise with a relatively heavy weight.

But with HIT, you don’t just do 3-6 reps to failure and call it a set. Not even close. Once you hit muscle failure is when that one set is really just beginning. While there’s no exact HIT plan to follow, after hitting failure you typically employ techniques like rest-pauses, drop sets, some cheat reps, maybe a few forced reps, and possibly even some negative reps before you officially surrender and call the set complete. You may only do one working set per exercise with HIT, but that one set is a knock-down, drag-out fight out of a set.

The benefits of HIT are that it takes less time to train, and you truly give each set your all-out effort – in other words, efficiency and intensity. The downside is that you may not achieve enough of a muscle pump, or even enough volume, to fully work the muscle.

Pros and Cons of HVT and HIT

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