Volume Training for Better Wheels

By IFBB Pro Johnnie Jackson

Sponsored by ALLMAX

My attitude was similar to my friend Branch Warren’s – I will outwork everyone else up there.

The big knock on me has always been that my legs aren’t quite as good as my upper body. This goes way back to my youth playing football. I was a running back, and my priority was being able to cut and move fast. Huge legs weren’t part of the plan then, so I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. You probably know that Metroflex Gym owner Brian Dobson was putting Branch Warren and me through all our leg workouts years back when Branch was winning the Arnold Classic back-to-back. I still get asked about those workouts, and I wish we had them on video. I did write them down, and here’s an exact workout from over a decade ago that I still remember as being brutally difficult.

Leg Workout: Thursday, July 5, 2012

1. Leg extensions – 4 x 50, fifth set was a triple drop of 50 + 50 + 50 = 150 reps!

2. Leg press – 5 x 30, sixth set was a triple drop of 30 + 30 + 30 = 150 reps

(We had worked up to 14 plates a side, drop set was 14, 12, and 10 plates all for 30 reps

3. Hack squats – 4 x 15 (worked up to 6 plates a side)

4. Nautilus duo squats – 4 x 20 reps, each leg

5. Lying leg curls – 4 x 30

6. Decline lying leg curl – 4 x 30

(This machine has your torso and your legs angled down with your hips higher, looking almost like a pyramid)

*Normally we would have done squats, but our lower backs were still smoked from deadlifts three days before.

It was a totally different style of training than anything I’d ever done for my legs, and the shock translated to changes I saw in my legs week by week. I still wasn’t Quadzilla, but I had a more balanced and complete physique after a few months of training under Brian than anything I’d shown before. My attitude was similar to my friend Branch Warren’s – I will outwork everyone else up there.

Soreness, Recovery and Growth

Q: Is soreness an indicator of growth or not? Every time I train, my goal is to make that body part sore for at least one day if not two or three. I do a lot of drop sets, supersets, and forced reps. But I have been comparing pictures and measurements, and it doesn’t look like I have made any gains in at least six months. Should I stop worrying about getting sore?

A: A lot of people wonder about this, but I don’t think there is any proof that says there is a direct correlation between getting sore and growing. It’s never my goal to get sore from my workouts necessarily, but I do get sore just about every time due to the intensity of my training. To me, that level of intensity is what it takes to grow, so the link is there. It’s just not a direct link. Soreness is fine, but you also need to recover from your workouts. If you go to train a body part and it’s still sore, that means it hasn’t recovered from the previous workout yet. To break it down again before it’s had a chance to repair itself is just going to lead to overtraining, or at the very least, lack of growth.

As for all those intensity techniques, I wouldn’t use all of those all the time. Maybe use them for just one work set of each exercise, or one body part a week, something that will cut down on all those drop sets and supersets. The bottom line is that you’re not growing, so that right there tells you something needs to change. My guess is that your muscles aren’t recovering because you are hitting them hard without allowing them to recover.

Artificial Sweeteners, Fat Loss, and Health

Q: Do artificial sweeteners keep you from getting leaner? I have heard they do, which worries me because when I diet, I tend to drink a lot of diet soda, use plenty of Splenda in my coffee, and go through about a pack of sugar-free gum every day. Do you know if it’s true? And how much in the way of artificial sweeteners do you typically use when you diet?

A: There is some evidence that things like diet soda make fat loss more difficult, because the body seems to release insulin from them just the same as it would from regular sugar soda. I really don’t know a lot about that, to be honest. I myself go for a lot of Crystal Light and Coke Zero when I diet. Sometimes you just want to taste something sweet when you’re eating plain diet meals every day. That being said, you should limit yourself. I doubt that excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners are healthy for you regardless of whether they have an impact on fat loss. I will only have Crystal Light or a Coke Zero with two of my daily meals. For all my other meals, I drink just water to flush all that other crap out of my system.

Sore Back From Deadlifts and Squats

Q: When I do squats and deadlifts in the same week, it seems like whichever one I do second in the week suffers because my lower back gets sore and tight for days. How do you deal with this problem? Do you alternate which one you do every week, or does your lower back not get sore and tight like mine does?

A: My lower back absolutely gets tight and sore like that! You have to understand that the legs and back are both large muscle groups, and it takes a lot of heavy weight to break down all that muscle and make it grow. So, I do recommend you alternate weeks like this:

Week 1: Squat heavy, do rack deadlifts (from just below the knees up)

Week 2: Squat for higher reps, do regular full deadlifts

Instagram @johnnieojackson

Website: www.jojfitness.com



1 scoop Impact Pump (helps increase blood flow and transportation of nutrients while significantly helping the focus for mind-muscle connection)

1 scoop Aminocore (prevents muscle tissue breakdown during training)

10g Glutamine (helps with DOMS, insulin sensitivity, gut health, and immune system)

5g Creatine (for that fast-acting, explosive power needed to push weights and helps with muscle hydration)

1 scoop Carbion (50g carbs) (really helps with energy and endurance during workout by giving your body carbs that don’t have to be digested, therefore they are readily available for fuel)


2 scoops IsoFlex (fast-digesting protein with essential amino acids to start the building or repairing process immediately)

10g Glutamine again (helps with DOMS, insulin sensitivity, gut health and immune system)

Give these a try and watch your energy, intensity and pumps dramatically increase in the gym.

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