The 6 12 25 method – what is it?
There are many different ways of strength training, from a standard traditional gym routine of 2 to 3 sets of 12-14 repetitions per exercise, the sort of thing a gym instructor might give a new member at the gym – to GVT (German Volume Training), a split system where you do 10 sets on one muscle group and its synergist per day, going to 10 repetitions close to or at failure on each set. All of these different routines will help to strengthen muscles, increase joint stability, increase the metabolic rate and perhaps most importantly for many burn fat both during and outside of sessions. The 6 12 25 strength training method utilises different repetition ranges within one superset to get a unique combination of strength, toning, muscle size and endurance.
What are the benefits of the 6 12 25 method?
Usually, strength training focuses on one aspect – muscle toning, muscle size, endurance or all-out strength. But here, because of the different mini sets being used at once, we get gains in all these areas at the same time. So some strength from the low rep first set, some toning and muscle size from the second, then toning and endurance from the third set. There is also a big volume of work being done (over 200 reps if you do 5 rounds!) which leads to really fast adaptation. We would definitely see a change in shape and tone in just 6 weeks if eating well!
I’m a woman, won’t it make me look bulky and muscular?
NO! To get bulky and muscular a woman would have to train for several hours a day and eat a very specialised diet. Performed a few times a week the 6 12 25 method will simply make you toned and strong looking. It is also invaluable for fat loss and will also help prevent the traditional muscle loss for those losing weight through diet alone. So at the end of your training and weight loss program, you will unusually have more muscle than when you started, which means maintaining your weight when you have reached your goal is much easier than for those who will have lost muscle by losing weight through nutrition only. A look at karma on our success stories page shows the type of arms you get by doing this kind of high-volume strength training routine – toned and fit looking!
Can I do it at home?
For an experienced bodybuilder, the answer to this would probably be no, but for most mere mortals, it’s a definite yes! Just a few free weights or some resistance bands, a TRX or even bodyweight will be enough (used in a clever way) to train in the 6 12 25 method. It is also worth noting that adding weight isn’t the only way to make an exercise harder, you can also use tempo. By going really slowly, even with a simple bodyweight exercise, you can make it challenging enough so you will go into overload with just six repetitions, the first mini set of the system!
What would the traditional range of sets and repetitions look like?
Traditional strength training theory contains 5 ranges of repetitions for different goals. here we are assuming that all sets are completed to loss of form (it’s getting hard!) or for those with a base of strength and stability to failure – you can’t do any more reps.Traditional strength training zones are:
15-20 reps, 2-6 sets – muscle endurance, with a little toning and size increase
12-14 reps, 2-6 sets – strength endurance, with more toning and muscle size
8-12 reps, 2-10 sets – muscle size, toning and some strength
6-8 reps, 2-6 sets – muscle strength, size and power
2-6 reps, 2-6 sets – muscle strength and power.
It is worth noting that the number of sets above is just an example; anything from 2 to 20 sets would see improvements, the former being the minimum, the latter a bit more specialist in a split routine, where you only do one muscle group per day. The optimum amount for both results and time would usually be 3-6 sets.
What makes the 6 12 25 different?
The method combines three different repetition ranges within one superset to get a unique “everything at once” benefit. There is all-out strength, toning and size as well as endurance. The 6-12-25 protocol was originally created by the late Canadian strength coach Charles Poliquin who also made GVT (German Volume Training as mentioned above) popular. The method uses giant sets – or tri-sets – with minimal rest to get a high volume of work done in a short amount of time. It’s worth noting that exercise selection is very important for the sets in order for them to work optimally and the way they were designed to.
What would a set look like?
Typically the goal would be to have three similar but slightly different moves based on one muscle group within each tri-set. Let’s look at pulling for an example. The first set needs to be at a resistance where you can only do 6 reps – as I can only do 6 pull-ups (so far!) this was my go-to exercise for the first mini-set. Then with only 15 seconds of recovery, I did a dumbbell bent over row (with the correct weight to have me failing close to 12 reps), then another 15 seconds of recovery then finally a wide grip standing cable pull with a weight that was lighter but still taking you into overload by the required 25 reps. Recovery between each tripple set should be 2-3 minutes. Aim for 5-6 sets in total. If we were adding in the synergists on the same day we could repeat this tri-set with heavy dumbell bicep curls (6 reps), then a zottman curl (12 reps) followed by 25 hammer curls. It is of course important to have the correct resistance to be overloading at the correct range. These and other varieties of curls feature here. An example of chest day could be 6 incline dumbell presses, 12 level barbell presses followed by 25 underhand cable presses (low to high). You would then do triceps if it was a double day, so something like weighted parallel bar tricep dips, cable pull downs and finally
What sort of frequency should I aim for?
With this high volume of reps per muscle group, the recommendation is to do each muscle group only once a week or once every 5 days. So you could do chest on day 1, rest day 2, legs day 3, rest day 4, pulling day 5, rest for a day then go again. As above you could also add in the synergists for each day to double up the session and hit those vanity muscles like the triceps and biceps.