In the last posts we´ve been talking about the training variables you need to adjust according to your goal to keep results consistently. Today we´re going to talk about volume.
Volume refers to how many sets you do per muscle group over the end of one week. Low volume means you do 2 – 3 sets for each exercise, moderate volume goes from 4 to 6 sets and high volume 8 or even 10 sets for a muscle group in one week.
The total volume you do for each muscle at the end of the week will vary according to your goals and also how trained you are, the amount of volume for someone who is starting won´t be the same to someone who has a couple years training or someone who is highly trained. The more trained you are the more volume you´ll need or the more you´ll need to be manipulating all variables to avoid plateaus.
For someone who is starting resistance training doing 3 to 4 sets and 2 or 3 exercises for each muscle group per week is enough volume.
Volume applies to both types of hypertrophy, myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic, this two types of muscle growth differ on the amounts of reps you do per set you can focus on myofibrillar hypertrophy to build dense muscle by doing 3 to 4 sets of 4 to 8 reps each for 2 or 3 exercises for a muscle group, if you want to focus on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy you can choose 2 or 3 exercises for one muscle group and do 3 to 4 sets of 12 to 15 reps.
The total volume per week will vary according to your goals, if you want to lose fat considering that you must be on a caloric deficit your volume must be low, it´ll be hard to get in high volume when you are eating less and the goal is to maintain the muscle mass you have so there´s no reason to want to do more than what you are capable off. With this goal and using low volume you can go for 5 to 7 reps and focus on keeping the strength, this way you make sure you´re not losing muscle mass.
When you want to gain muscle mass high volume can help you make more gains, you can combine both types of hypertrophy in a high volume program, since you are eating more you must be able to do more work and still give enough time for your body to recover, meaning you increase the total amount of sets you do on each exercise in a 4 or 5 days split so your hitting each muscle group once a week.
If you are new to the gym you need to get use to working out and low volume will give you results so doing 3 sets is a great way to start, if you are more trained you can go with moderate volume which works great for all fitness goals, if you are highly trained you can do high volume for a period of time and then go back to moderate or even low volume. If you go high volume for a long time you will burn out, we all have a lot of things going on in our lives so there´s no reason to stress a lot more your body and muscles with high volume, you can do them for 4 weeks and then reduce volume for 2 or 3 weeks.
You can do moderate frequency which we talked about in the last training post and keep changing volume and rep ranges with a variable called periodization this gives your muscles the stimulus they need to grow and it also gives them some time to recover after some weeks of moderate frequency, moderate volume and high intensity.
If you are working hard, smart and intense you may only need low volume and get amazing results, if you increase the volume you just need to make sure that you have enough time to recover specially if you are focusing on myofibrillar hypertrophy because the central nervous system fatigues quicker and takes more time to recover. Eating enough and giving your body nutrients to repair and recover is key, specially on high volume programs.
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