Beyond Sets and Reps: Why Training Volume is the Key


Training Volume is simply how much weight you lifted for an exercise or training session. It represents the quantity of work or training stimulus, to know it multiply load x reps x sets  or just sum all the loads you lifted.

Exercise 1 : 8 reps of 3 sets @ 100 kg is 2400kg
Exercise 2 : 6 sets of 4 reps @ 80 kg is 1920 kg
Exercise 3 : 10 sets of 10 reps @50kg is 5000kg
Exercise 4 : pyramid progression/max effort-like:
5 reps @ 50kg
4 reps @ 60kg
3 reps @ 70kg
2 reps @ 80kg
1 rep @ 90kg
the sum is 950kg

In a training session where these 4 exercises are done in progression, total Volume for the day is 10270kg.

When hammered over a prolonged period of time, Volume becomes a key parameter in periodisation : it gives you a measure of how much the body stays out of “the comfort zone”, breaking the organism’s homeostasis thus force the physiological adaptations to the new imposed conditions. That is, the essence of training.
Do not forget, Volume alone doesn’t work for specific adaptations. You still need to preserve the quality of your work and of your training impulse (relative load or speed of work does that). During cycle programming and workout creation, Volume is definitely the one to look for to monitor the quantity of the work.

Many are used to handle the total number of repetitons because it is easier to calculate, with Strength Trackers doing all the math for you, Volume becomes a more powerful tool and the reason is simple: it is load-comprehensive. This means you have a further toy to play when you’re looking for variety in your training program.

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In the table above we are tweaking the three parameters (sets, reps and load) to create 4 microcycles with slowly progressing volumes. We can sequence these choosing a linear or a wave like progression. Again, the basic concept behind these choices is by targeting a specific volume we’re making sure that training impulse is always progressing optimally so we can avoid under/over training and handle any variations in the stress factors coming from other environments without going crazy. This scheme could work great to keep adding mass on your guns.

With velocity-based training we now can easily adjust reps and tweak the number of sets and this directly impact volume of training. The beauty of this being the mobile application, doing all the math for you, live. To successfully monitor volume we just need as usual, a target value.


by Ingtommy

Founder, President and CTO of Beast Technologies Aerospace Engineer turned Certified Strength Coach Wide Receiver for Parma Panthers and Italian National Football Team "Lifting is mathematics, physics and biomechanics" cit. Louie Simmons