Grow with Volume Ladder

Piotr Leniart

Every skinny guy in the gym want to get huge but their body has other ideas. Understanding this means muscle growth must be forced. Remember how gains came so easy when you first started training but eventually slowed down or became non-existent? Strength training must change regularly to force adaptation, but from time to time a smart bomb must be used to jump start sluggish muscle into growth.

Science tells us that by hitting a motor unit with a high amount of volume, the body’s adaptive response is significant growth in the targeted muscles. Large training volumes haven't only been shown to contribute to increases in muscle mass, but also the loss of body fat.

Think of a ladder. Now think of climbing up and then back down. The Volume Ladder is that simple.  Start at 1 rep and add a rep per set until you reach 10 then go back down the ladder by decreasing one rep per set until you're back to 1. If you do the math that's 100 magical, growth-producing reps. You may be thinking that this sounds a lot like German Volume Training and you'd be correct. The main difference is that the VL is much easier for the mind to process.

Volume Ladder Variations

Single ladder. Pick one movement for the given body part and rest 15-60 seconds between sets. If you find yourself sucking wind (this can happen at the higher end reps), then rest a bit longer. Choose the biggest movements for the best results.

Double ladder. Pick one movement for one muscle group and super set it with a movement for its antagonist. Rest the amount of time that it takes to move between movements, but if you're sucking wind, then rest a bit longer. An example is a horizontal push with a horizontal pull.

Training loads

As for load, 60% of 1RM is a good starting point. Very few individuals can handle more than 75% of their 1RM on the ladder. When using a single ladder, one can usually handle a higher percentage than if performing a double ladder, at least until conditioning improves. When using the Volume Ladder, or any program for that matter, you should keep a detailed journal of the exact sets/reps, load, and rest intervals performed. Remember to count only the repetitions completed in strict form.


The Volume Ladder isn't something to use for a long time but rather as a kick in the pants to get stubborn muscles growing again. I've never used it for longer than 2 or 3 weeks, but a few of my clients have used it for 6 weeks straight with great result.

What to expect

Soreness! But when clients say that they need to gain mass fast I always use the Volume Ladder. One of my athletes has done the VL for two weeks of every month and has gained 9 kg of real muscle in 5 months!

Big time results in a short time are possible when you combine hard work and consistency with a kick ass routine. Give the volume ladder a shot and see what you can accomplish.


Tags: ladder, volume ladder

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