Time Volume Training is a muscle-building program hinged on workout density rather than intensity, more volume in a time block than muscle failure. Keep reading my review because this is going to be interesting.
When I first came across this program, I could not help but think of old-school volume strategies like the 8×8 workout system from the 50s by the late iconic American bodybuilding guru Vince Gironda or the similar 10×10 German Volume Training from the 70s by Rolf Feser, later adopted by Canadian strength coach legend Charles Poliquin.
These programs, including the Time Volume Training program reviewed here, share one common factor: developing progressive overload and muscle gains by increasing the total workload rather than increasing the load intensity (increasing the weight).
Time Volume Training Introduction
About Nick Nilsson
Nick Nilsson is a coach and fitness expert. He started working out at the age of 15, building 75 pounds of muscles over time, reaching an all-time competitive weight of 215 pounds at 5’11”.
During his bodybuilding career, he also got a degree in physical education and psychology and developed a decades-long career as a personal trainer.
He is known for his unconventional methods that earned him the nickname of “mad scientist of muscle.”
Rather than going with the standard mold, he finds eccentric solutions to training and exercises, especially when it comes to targeting specific weaknesses.
Make no mistake, though, for his eccentricity is purpose-driven and not for the sake of being different.
Now in the mid-40s, Nick has switched to a higher volume style of training very much in line with his new program, Time Volume Training, which is the successor of his previous plan, “Mad Scientist Muscle” (reviewed here), now superseded.
As you can see, Nick Nilsson is a real person, coach, and expert in the art of muscle building. He possibly tried all the existing muscle-building techniques on the planet during his career, and he’s particularly adept at finding new solutions when standard practice does not work.
Time Volume Training Ideal Candidate
3-Repetition Sets To Create Volume – Why 3?
This is a crucial factor of the program that needs to be clarified. 3 is the number of repetitions per set that make Time Volume Training significantly different from its illustrious volume-based predecessors, namely:
- The 8×8 Workout System By Vince Gironda.
- The 10×10 German Volume Training.
The reason for the three repetitions (and 10 seconds rest only) instead of the eight repetitions the Gironda’s way (and 30 seconds rest) is called the ATP-PC system, or adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and phosphocreatine (PC).
These are stored high-energy phosphates responsible for the immediate release of energy for the first 10 seconds of muscle contraction. They are of vital importance in sports like 100 m. sprinting, powerlifting shot, put javelin, or discus throw.
Beyond 10 seconds, you enter the anaerobic lactate system typically used in traditional sets to failure, or 5/6 to 20/30 repetitions.
Limiting the repetitions to 3 with a 75% 1 RM with you end up staying within the 10-second ATP-PC time range so that your muscles do not have time to release lactic acid.
Then a 10-second rest between sets allows you to repeat the three repetitions over and over with the same weight, thus taxing your aerobic system for the whole duration of the time block, similarly to steady cardio.
This is how the Time Volume Training doubles up as a cardio workout even though muscle gains are the primary focus. The only concession to muscle fatigue is the lengthening of rest times to 2o and 30 seconds toward the end of the 15-minute time block.
The weight stays the same for the whole time.
Alternatives To Time Volume Training
Vince Gironda’s 8×8 and the German Volume 10×10 structures work more similarly to each other than Nick Nilsson’s Time Volume Training.
Here’s a quick recap of how they work:
- 65% 1RM weight (a weight you would typically do 15 repetitions with).
- Eight sets of 8 repetitions.
- 30-second rest between sets.
- You should never reach failure until the last 1 or 2 reps in the 8th or 7th set at the earliest.
- No specific time block set.
German Volume 10×10
- 60% 1RM weight (a weight you would typically do 20 repetitions with).
- Ten sets of 10 repetitions.
- 60-second rest between sets.
- Again, never reach failure until the very end.
- No specific time block set.
As you can see, these two volume training methods overlap into anabolic, lactate ranges like traditional resistance training, but they are designed to keep you away from failure with fewer repetitions than you would typically be able to do.
This way, you can carry on for longer and build volume.
Nick Nilsson’s Time Volume Training is more radical because it allows you to use a heavier load with shorter rests, without a care for the number of sets but just a time block:
- 75% 1RM (a weight you would normally do 10 repetitions with)
- 10-second rest only, which become 20-second and 30-second as you fatigue)
- 15-minute time block (instead of a determined number of sets and no time block)
- Again, never reach failure before the end of the time block.
In essence, a Time Volume Training workout is similar to a giant rest-pause or cluster set, with failure reached only at the very end.
Time Volume Training Structure – The Workouts Manual
The hypertrophy section is very extensive. It contains 29 exercises with pictures, explanations, and links back to the video library:
1 – Standard Time Volume Training For Bench Press.
2 – One And One-Quarter Rep For Upper Chest.
3 – Antagonistic Band Handcuff Pull-Ups And Bench Press Time Volume.
Barbell-Dumbbell Time Volume Training For:
4 – Chest.
5 – Back.
6 – Shoulders.
7 – Biceps.
8 – Triceps.
Closed Chain/Open Chain Time Volume Training For:
10 – Chest.
11 – Triceps.
12 – Delt Isolation Time Volume Training.
13 – Front To Back Squat Time Volume Training.
14 – Hybrid Time Volume Training For Chest.
In-Set Superset Time Volume Training For:
15 – Back.
16 – Biceps.
17 – Chest.
18 – Triceps.
Mechanical Drop Time-Volume Training For:
19 – Bench Press.
20 – Upper Arm.
21 – Upper Chest.
Pre-Exhaust Time Volume Training For:
22 – Back.
23 – Back 2.
24 – Chest.
Primary-Secondary Time Volume Training For:
25 – Hamstrings.
26 – Traps.
27 – Stretch-Focused Time Volume Training.
Two-Exercise Time Volume Training For:
28 – Biceps.
29 – Calves.
3 – Strength Workouts
The strength workouts are similar to the hypertrophy workouts except for the final part of the time block. You start as usual with a 75% 1RM weight and three repetitions with 10-second rest.
When you have almost reached failure on the third repetition, instead of extending the rest time to 20 seconds, you keep going with two repetitions, still with 10-second rest.
Then, when you almost reach failure on the second repetition, keep doing 1-repetition sets, still with 10-second rests.
When you struggle to complete even just one repetition, increase the rest to 20 seconds, go back to 3 repetitions, repeat the cycle down to 2 repetitions, and then 1.
When you struggle to get a single repetition, increase the rest once more to 30 seconds and repeat the cycle for the last time.
This is a real killer.
Again, there are many exercises and techniques to implement the strength-based volume workouts, but it’s simply too much for a review to make them justice.
4 – Fat Loss And Conditioning Workouts
The fat loss and cardio workouts work on the same 3-rep idea, but they are organized in a full-body circuit routine without rest between the exercises to increase your heart rate and trigger your metabolism.
The full-body workouts are minimalist and do not cover all the possible exercises. Instead, they hinge on three large body parts.
You simply pick a moderate weight (10-reps) and perform three repetitions of each exercise non-stop over and over again for 15 minutes with no 10-second rests between them.
So, if you do bench press, pulldowns, and squat, you have covered the whole of your body. Because of the three exercises, you effectively rest for longer than 10 seconds before hitting the same muscle, meaning this workout is more oriented toward cardio than hypertrophy or strength.
5 – Bodyweight Workouts
Last but not least, the bodyweight section. To make bodyweight workouts more efficient, Nick showcases techniques like:
- Antagonistic muscles training.
- Mechanical Drop Training. 5-3-1 Time Volume Training.
- No-Rest Antagonistic Speed Training.
Just like with equipment, the standard protocol is three repetitions, 10 seconds rest. However, due to the different resistance offered by your bodyweight exercise, the repetitions range may need to be adjusted.
So instead of doing three reps for all the exercises, you may need to adjust to 2 reps for pull-ups, three reps for dips, or four reps for pushups as the foundational set. This is because of the different levels of resistance offered by other movements.
Time Volume Training Components – What’s In It?
1 – Time Volume Training Main PDF Manual
It’s a 237-page PDF manual, the meat, and potato with everything you need to know about the program and the layout of the workouts.
- Introduction To Time Volume Training.
- Time Volume Training Programs And Workouts.
- Hypertrophy Workouts.
- Strength Workouts.
- Fat Loss And Conditioning Workouts.
- Bodyweight Workouts.
You can scroll back up for a detailed description of these contents.
The final part of the manual includes:
A Supplement Guide – Supplements are necessary at all, says Nick, but should you choose some, you’d better go for quality ones. Nick provides different lists of supplements that he found helpful during his long career.
- Digestive Enzymes.
- Creatine Monohydrate.
- L-Citrulline DL-Malate
- Magnesium + Vitamin D3/K2 + Zinc
- Fish Oil.
- Non-Stimulant Herbal Pre-Workout Formulas
I’ve always limited my supplement to whey protein (occasionally) and multivitamins. But if you want to try some more, the list is there.
TVT Workout Tracking Sheet – This is the last page of the workouts manual PDF, which you can print over and over to keep track of your workouts and progression.
2 – Best Bodyweight Exercises Manual
This is a gigantic 358-page manual. I was surprised at the size since it’s not the central manual, but it was almost expected because Nick Nilsson is famous for various exercises and solutions to different needs.
He’s got his basement gym with all sorts of equipment where he devised hundreds, thousands of different exercises over his coaching and program creation career.
Body part sections structure the manual, and in each area, Nick Nilsson showcases some of the most common and unusual bodyweight exercises you can do.
Again, this is not just for the sake of numbers but to offer alternatives that better suit your style, biomechanics, or simply personal preference.
All exercises are effective. Many of them are standard bodyweight/calisthenics exercises, and others are unique. The manual is too long to make it justice, so here is a brief list of some unusual exercises.
- Cross-Bench Stretched Crunch.
- Fist Pushing Side Leg Raises.
- Flexed Arm Hanging Leg Raises.
- Chin Up Rows.
- Cross-Grip Chin Up.
- Fast Half Chin Ups.
- Hand Over Hand Bar Walking.
- Rotating Grip Pull-Ups.
- Unstable Bar Chin Ups And Pull-Ups.
- Batman Bodyweight Curls.
- Low Pulley Push-Ups.
- High Bar Pec Roll-Ins
- Braced Leg Squats.
The list goes on and on. Nick Nilsson demonstrates each exercise from his basement gym, but of course, many exercises are standard push and pull exercises, so don’t feel intimidated by the weird ones.
Best Power Rack Exercises
Another huge 339-page PDF manual. It covers the best power rack exercises you never heard of (in his own words). There is no point for me to make another list. It’s just humungous.
This manual is handy for those with a gym membership or a power rack at home.
Each exercise is linked to the video library with a play button and is demonstrated by Nick in the pictures with a relative description.
Here is the fun part. The video portal page features an introduction video of Nick Nilsson welcoming you to the program.
Below the greetings video, you get 51 video links divided by workout categories. Each link connects you to the specific exercise video, and you may need to right-click and open the video on a new tab or simply left-click and then hit the return link to the library portal.
You need a decent connection to view the videos because they are not yours to keep in the drive. You’ll always have to refer to the video library page online or get to them via the ebook links.
This is not a problem for most people, but it may be for those living in rural areas on a dial-up connection. Here is a breakdown anyway:
- Hypertrophy Workouts – 30 videos.
- Strength Workouts – 12 videos.
- Fat Loss And Conditioning Workouts – 4 videos.
- Bodyweight Workouts – 5 videos.
All videos last for 3 to 8 minutes and are shot from Nick Nilsson’s gym. Nick is also a very likable guy and makes you feel at ease; it feels almost like you are there with him in the gym.
The only thing that is not to my taste is the background music. It’s a kind of hard-rock or rock ballad with the acoustic guitar playing all the way. You can even see stacks of CDs on the rack in the gym corner LOL.
I’m more of a lounge/house music kind of guy. But that’s just me. If you like guitar riffs and rock, this music will add an extra kick and a nice feel to your workouts.
My Point Of View On Time Volume Training
Advantages And Disadvantages Of This Program
- This program was created by a very knowledgeable and friendly coach with years of experience.
- It gives you everything you need and some more—hundreds of pages of manuals and a rich video library.
- Manuals are written to the point. You can easily scroll to the section of interest through the bookmarks.
- Well explained with an abundance of pictures, explanations, and links back to the video from within the manual.
- The videos are well shot, and Nick demonstrates the whole program professionally and pleasantly.
- Flexible program. Even though the standard protocol is suitable for hypertrophy, strength, and fat loss, you also get specialized blueprints for each goal.
- Flexible implementation. You can use free weights with a power rack, bodyweight, or hybrid exercises.
- Time Volume Training is particularly suitable for people who don’t seem to progress through traditional intensity programs, mainly intermediate or advanced trainees. However, the program is just as effective for beginners.
- High volume training is easy on your joints, tendons, and central nervous system.
- Workouts are shorter than usual, typically 40/45 minutes for 2/3 body parts, or 30/32 minutes in a 6-day per week split.
- This protocol works very well for fat loss and conditioning, so you don’t need to spend extra time on cardio.
- Very competitively priced. For just $19, you get a ton of solid information and videos from a top author.
- 60-day money-back guarantee.
- There’s nothing negative that I can think of. Only the background music in the workout videos may not be to anyone’s taste.
Time Volume Training FAQs
Is This Program Effective For Bodyweight Training?
Time Volume Training is perfect for bodyweight training because it promotes progressive overload by performing more work in a time block rather than increasing the resistance. This is ideal when you cannot increase the load, such as your body weight, which is fixed.
Does It Work For Older Guys Or Is It Just A Youg Guy’s Protocol?
Time Volume Training works incredibly well for older guys because it’s gentle on joints, tendons, and nervous systems. You don’t go to failure and use lighter loads instead. Plus, you burn fat along the way.
It’s just the perfect protocol for older guys. You can also adjust the blueprint to your needs, changing exercises or switching to lighter resistance if needed.
What About Beginners?
Time Volume Training works just as well for beginners and intermediates. Rather than building muscle through high intensity and sets to failure, you do so through high volume in a time block. And you save yourself from setbacks and injuries.
What About Women?
Ditto as above. Physiology is the same for everyone, no matter your gender. The only difference is the lighter resistance women can handle, but the progression is just the same.
I Like Free Weights And Machines – Can I Do This Program?
Yes. Time Volume Training is super flexible and showcases many exercises that you can do with a power rack, barbells, and dumbbells, at home or a gym.
Does It Come With Nutrition Advice?
Nope. This program is purely focused on workouts, so you should follow your nutrition plan. However, it’s beneficial for fat loss, and it will undoubtedly contribute to your physique appearance and a correct meal plan.
Is It Time Consuming?
Not comparing to regular split routines. Workouts last for 40/45 minutes each for 2/3 muscle groups on a 4-day per week schedule. Workouts on a 6-day per week schedule last for 30/32 minutes each. The reason for that is density: you get more done in a time block.
I Want To Increase Strength – Is This Program Just For Hypertrophy?
No, it works for strength too. A specific variation of the standard protocol calls for single reps with just 10-second rest between sets. It works for strength too.
Can I Choose Any Exercise I Like?
Time Volume Training works with any exercise to choose your preferred ones, whether for compound or isolation movements.
How Much Is It?
Right now, it’s $19 on the official website only: fitstep.com.
What If It Does Not Work For Me?
Time Volume Training comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Jay always had a passion for fitness. A former skinny guy, he built himself 35 lb of lean muscle over the years using different training strategies, going through failures and eventually succeeding, and now wants to share his knowledge with those who value fitness as a way of life (See all posts by Jay Fielding).