What is Volume in Training – Important!
What is volume in training? That is a very important question, for a variety of reasons. Whether it be its importance in seeing results, its effect managing fatigue, all the way to its influence on your exercise selection. Within this article, I will be explaining what training volume is, its benefits, and how it can be incorporated in your routine. Let’s get started!
Training Volume Explained:
Training volume is very simple to define. It is your setsXrepsXweight used, the number that comes from this is the amount of volume you have lifted. For example, if you did 3 sets of 8 reps using 135 pounds of weight, then you would have done 3,240 pounds of volume.
However, when we refer to the volume we are doing in training, it is usually the amount of sets and reps we are doing. This because manipulating weights is a bit different than manipulating the sets and reps, however, it would still change your overall volume number.
To put this into context for you, let’s say you’re doing a 3×8 with 135 pounds on the bench press. Increasing the amount of sets or reps you do would increase the volume relative to your training/goals. While increasing the weight would affect the overall volume, it would have its own characteristics. What I mean by this is increasing volume (sets and reps) is more relative to hypertrophy, while, increasing the weight being used (intensity) is more relative to strength. With this in mind, they do overlap, there is just more of an emphasis on one depending on your goals.
Benefits of Volume:
When looking at our volume, the main benefit of it would be its direct correlation with hypertrophy. We know that the amount of volume you do has a dose-response relationship with hypertrophy. In theory, the more volume you do, the more gains you get (to a certain point which is unknown, with many other factors playing a part, such as recovery). I would say the second benefit of volume is its ability to be manipulated to manage fatigue. Allow me to put this into context for you below.
When we increase volume, we should see an increase in hypertrophy, which is true. This is great! Well, don’t get your hopes up thinking doing 50 sets per muscle group per week is going to give you crazy gains! This is where the fatigue management part comes into play. This would make it extremely (if even possible) to properly recover from. This will hamper your ability to perform in subsequent training sessions, making it detrimental, not beneficial. This is the main reason why this is not a good idea.
Applying Volume To Our Training:
With any information we learn, we need to be able to apply it to our training. While increasing volume over time is important to our hypertrophy, there are some guidelines to follow, that also correlate with our fatigue management. Below is an example of this.
With volume for hypertrophy, we would usually start on the low end, which is somewhere in the 10 sets per muscle group per week range. This would progress (along with other things) strategically as a program developed to create progressive overload, and help with hypertrophy. So the main benefit of volume is its key contribution to hypertrophy. Also, the more volume we do, the more fatigue we accumulate. Therefore, it is important to manipulate volume to suit our needs. This may look like ramping it up and really pushing it towards the end of a training block (somewhere in the 20 sets per muscle group, per week range), then reducing is quite significantly to allow ourselves to recover. All this while monitoring our recovery throughout the training block so we can make adjustments as needed. For new beginners, these guidelines would look a little different.
The Gist on Training Volume:
All in all, we know training volume is our setsXrepsXweight used, and the true volume that we look at (especially relative to hypertrophy) is the sets and reps. You have also learned some of the benefits of this volume, and some basics on how it can be implemented within training.
I look forward to this information being able to positively impact your training! I thank you for taking the time to read this article, and as always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.
Hi, Kohl, is a certified personal trainer plus a degree-holder in Wellness and Fitness, let me be the first to say that I’m glad to see an article where the claims can be scientifically-backed. That’s great to see with all the bro-science I see all over the internet. Anyway, I’ve been doing some more research on training volume and the progressive overload principle, which when pushed to a certain extent will indeed lead to muscle fatigue.
Something I came across about five years ago was the principle of undulating periodization, where volume and intensity can be manipulated on a daily, or in many cases a per workout session basis. I’ve been reading ACSM’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, 5th Edition, and what I learned back in 2014 isn’t just backed here in present times, but also has seen greater evidence where when one utilizes such periodization, high volume can definitely thrive so long as it’s rotated with moderate and lower volume days.
We can add in higher intensity on those days, or simply have active recovery sessions where our volume and intensity may both be low to moderate. Consistent manipulation of these factors will lead to excellent longevity.
Hi Todd, I am so glad you found interest in the article! It’s always refreshing to hear people actually know what they’re talking about out there, because quite frankly, I agree, there is far too much bro-science being put out! It is so true that varying the amount of volume, intensity and other factors is very important to ensure you are controlling the stimulus you are putting on your body to allow for recovery, growth and like you said, longevity. While there definitely needs to be a focus (like progressing volume for hypertrophy), manipulating different variables certainly is important!
Hi! I really like the way you have explained the benefits of volume. There is a direct relationship between volume-recovery with the results we obtain. If there is a dis-balance between volume-recovery it will definitely affect us negatively. So, monitoring our recovery throughout the training block and adjusting as needed is all important.
Hi Henry, so glad you liked the article! You definitely need to be implementing enough volume for growth, while controlling it enough to allow for recovery. Monitoring recovery is so important! Thanks for checking out the website, I hope to see you back!