Building a physique is something that requires a scientific approach. If you are just lifting weights aimlessly, it’s not going to give you the physique that you aspire to have.
Hence, when it comes to building a muscular and lean physique, you need to take care of certain things that make your workout program effective. Training volume is one of them.
In this post, we will give you a detailed overview of training volume. We will also throw some light on how training volume supports muscle building and fat loss and how you too can make the best use of it.
Let’s get started.
What is training volume?
Training volume, in general, refers to the total amount of work done. From the perspective of weight training, this equates to the total number of sets, reps, and the amount of weight that you lift in a training session or a week.
There is a misconception amongst various lifters who think that the concept of ‘training volume’ is only limited to the number of sets and reps. But that is partially true. The amount of weight lifted also plays a crucial role in determining one’s training volume.
How is training volume calculated?
There are three factors that are considered while calculating training volume. They are total number of sets, total number of reps, and the amount of weight lifted in a training session.
A set formula for calculating one’s training volume is sets x reps x amount of weight lifted. Let’s understand this in detail with the following example:-
Suppose you performed 4 sets of 10 reps each on the barbell back squat. The weight that you lifted in each set is 225 lbs. So your training volume for squats would be 4x10x225 which is 9000 lbs.
One thing that you must keep in mind while calculating your training volume is that you must choose a weight that can make each set challenging for you. You should neither go too heavy nor go too light.
That way you would be able to make maximum gains from a high-volume workout program.
What is high-volume training?
High-volume training is an exercising style that incorporates performing numerous sets and reps for each muscle group in every workout session. In nutshell, high-volume training means you are aiming for more sets and more reps. This training approach is primarily focused on facilitating size gains.
However, a high-volume training program also has a significant impact on improving muscular strength and endurance. Old school bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Serge Nubret, Frank Zane, etc. popularized this training style.
If you feed your body well, a high-volume training program can fetch you decent hypertrophy gains. So if you want to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, a high-volume workout routine can serve your prime interests.
When should I do the high-volume workout?
High-volume workouts are usually recommended for individuals who want to build muscle and burn excess fat. The ‘more sets, more reps’ approach of a high-volume workout routine serves that purpose quite well.
If being leaner and muscular is your physique goal, then you must rely on following a high-volume workout routine. However, you must make sure to use moderate-heavy weights in each of your lifting sessions.
How do you increase training volume?
As we mentioned earlier, training volume depends on three factors: total number of sets, total number of reps, and the amount of weight lifted. Therefore, to increase the training volume, any of these factors can be increased.
For instance, if you are able to bench press 225 lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps, try to perform 4 sets of 10 reps with the same weight in your next training session.
Similarly, you can also choose to perform 3 sets of 12-15 reps with 225 lbs. Or, you can perform 3 sets of 10 reps with 235 lbs.
Each of these approaches will increase your overall training volume. It will also promote size gains that come with progressive overload.
How many reps is considered high volume?
Usually, the rep range of 10-15 reps on each exercise falls under a high-volume training program. This is because this rep range adequately stresses the muscle fibers. Also, the 10-15 rep range doesn’t subject them to the adverse impacts of overtraining.
However, there are certain muscle groups that respond pretty well when you hit them with more than 12 reps. For instance, the large muscles of your legs get decent stimulation with more than 12 reps. The same thing applies when you hit your traps and rear delts.
Does high-volume training burn more calories?
The amount of calories that you burn in a workout session is directly proportional to the total amount of work done. A high-volume training program that has numerous sets and reps that are to be performed with moderate-heavy weights certainly burns more calories.
Also, when you include compound exercises like squats, bench presses, barbell rows, pull-ups, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc. in your high-volume workout routine, they further assist you in burning more calories.
Do natural lifters need more volume?
Natural lifters are required to follow a training program that can give their muscle fibers adequate stress for growth. Hence, relying on a high-volume training program serves that purpose quite well for them.
However, a natural lifter should not copy the high-volume workout program of an advanced bodybuilder. Doing so will subject his muscles to excessive stress, leading to muscle catabolism instead of muscle hypertrophy.
Performing 3-4 sets of 10-15 repetitions on each exercise with a moderate-heavy weight is considered ideal for natural lifters.
How much volume should a natural lifter do?
There are numerous benefits of relying on a high-volume training program. But at the same time, a natural lifter should know where to draw the line while following it.
Being a natural lifter, if an individual subjects his body to excessive training volumes, it might get exposed to the adverse impacts of overtraining.
Hitting a muscle group twice a week with 3-4 exercises per training session is considered adequate for a natural lifter. He should be performing 3-4 sets on each of those exercises.
The weight to be used on those exercises should be challenging enough to let him perform 8-15 reps on each set with strict form but not more or less than that.
What does low volume workout mean?
Low volume workouts refer to a training protocol in which fewer sets and reps are performed. To make such a training protocol effective, the intensity is kept high by using heavier weights.
Old school bodybuilders like Dorian Yates and Mike Mentzer used to follow a low-volume training style. Even though they used to perform fewer sets and reps in each training session, the superheavy weights they lifted intensified their workouts.
Heavy lifting is the backbone of a low-volume, high-intensity training program. When you follow a low-volume, high-intensity training program, you perform each rep with maximum effort. This in turn provides the muscles with the shock that they need for growth.
Low-volume workouts are a suitable option for those who have time constraints to hit the gym every single day. It enables you to pack on dense muscle mass along with enhancing your strength levels.
Is volume important for hypertrophy?
Hypertrophy occurs when your muscle tissues are subjected to stress, which challenges them to grow in size over time. When you follow a high-volume training program, your muscles automatically get adequate stimulation from performing numerous sets and reps of different exercises.
This in turn puts them in a position to grow in size. And that is why the majority of lifters rely on a high-volume training program to put on size.
However, the benefits of high-volume training are not just confined to facilitating hypertrophy gains. It also boosts both endurance and strength level to some extent.
What muscle group needs the most volume?
Larger muscle groups like legs, back, and chest respond pretty well with high-volume training sessions. This is owing to the fact that they are big and strong enough to sustain enormous training volume and recover well from them.
When it comes to training smaller muscle groups like biceps, triceps, rear delts, forearms, and calves, they don’t usually need excessive training volume to grow.
However, if any of your smaller muscle groups are lagging, increasing its overall training volume often serves to be fruitful.
We expect that this post would have answered all the questions that you had about training volume. Your training volume has a crucial role to play when it comes to building a lean and muscular physique.
The effectiveness of high-volume training routines has stood the test of time and is still used by many fitness freaks and physique athletes alike.
If you too want to experience the gains of high-volume training, consider consulting a fitness coach beforehand. You must also have a clear view about your physique goals. That way you would be able to gain the most out of following a high-volume training program.