Barry Merriman - A Discussion Of Volume, Hypertrophy, And The Internet Of Yesteryear

Discussion in 'Hypertrophy-Specific Training (HST)' started by mikeynov, Aug 1, 2019.

  1. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    I've wanted to post this information somewhere for a while, but never really found a good opportunity to do so. In order to explain myself, it's necessary to take a brief travel back in time, to the internet in its infancy, the late 90's/early 2000's scene. I'm not sure how many people will find this interesting in the same way I do, but I figured it's worth a shot at a niche forum like this.

    During the internet's formative years, the High Intensity Training disciples of Arthur Jones were a strong voice on internet forums. I suspect this was partially a reaction to the bodybuilding era of the time, e.g. 80's and 90's, when advice was heavily skewed towards a sort of corporate/ridiculous version of bodybuilding that played ignorant about the role of drugs and prescribed routines that were massively high volume. As such, I see HIT as being a sort of counter-cultural reaction against Muscle & Fitness and Flex type magazines, and if you go back to literature in the HIT/Hardgainer area you will see plentiful evidence of this.

    My first exposure to this debate was actually via Cyberpump. James Krieger, who is still around and one of the e-authorities on hypertrophy, debated Drew Baye on the topic of one set to failure's alleged superiority, and it was at this time that I first came across the Barry Merriman story. This was a fairly detailed anecdote offered about the apparent role volume played in hypertrophy outcomes, and I still find his story and actual routine super interesting.

    This is a copy of that story, including both his bodybuilding and powerlifting routines. I have seen this discussed since then maybe literally zero times, and I think the routine is worth considering in light of modern knowledge on the subject. It's actually a fairly interesting setup, a formalized version of bodybuilding that I think is still lacking in today's interwebs where most of the structured routines you tend to see have a clear bias towards powerlifting/strength training (e.g. 5/3/1, Starting Strength, Stronglifts etc.). Without going into too much detail, I wanted to share this link to see if it sponsored any interesting discussion, particularly in light of that other excellent thread we had in which we discussed the roles of load, volume etc. on hypertrophy.

    I think his routine might be worth a shot, and one of the more interesting aspects of it to me was the heavy/light setup. As per the "effective reps" idea, those lighter sessions wouldn't seem to do a lot per se for hypertrophy, but that sort of structure of infrequent, high intensity bouts punctuated by lower intensity bouts at lower loads is a setup I've not quite seen before.

    Additionally, the absolute volume prescription isn't too crazy, and I find it interesting that he's pairing compounds with isolations. I also note there's a distinct lack of deadlifts recommended at all for bodybuilding purposes, which I think has a certain logic. For example, three AMRAP sets of squats is certainly hard, but 3 AMRAP sets of leg extensions? They burn a lot, but not nearly the same systemic effect. It's also far less crazy volume-wise than the current wave of bodybuilding recommendations you see coming from Schoenfeld et al, so yah, overall, I find it pretty interesting.
    _Simon_ and Jester like this.
  2. Jester

    Jester Well-Known Member

    Interesting story. I always enjoy reading the ‘looking back’ pieces. Too many folks skip out on writing those today.
  3. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    Interesting. Looks like a reverse pyramid sort of routine. I've always been too wary to do as few warmups as he suggests. Seems like Martin of leangains fame has pushed something similar. Crazy or not, it's definitely worked for him.
  4. mikeynov

    mikeynov Super Moderator Staff Member

    Yah, I suppose there isn't too much to expand on this, I more just wanted to share. It's fun finding these sorts of unique routines that have been lost over time, and I always thought of Barry's routine as an example of the whole HIT vs. higher volume debate.
  5. Totentanz

    Totentanz Super Moderator Staff Member

    I'm thinking of giving his routine a whirl over the autumn and winter months. Looks fun.
    _Simon_ likes this.

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