This is the second part of our Muscle Building Series. The focus of this post is Training Volume and how we use the latest research on this topic at Train to develop programs that maximise results.

What is Training Volume?

Firstly, let’s clear things up and explain the terminology to any training beginners. Training Volume is the number of sets and repetitions completed on each body part in a set period of time, which is normally either daily or weekly.

What is the ideal training volume to maximise muscle growth?

A 2016 comprehensive meta-analysis and systematic review found that 10+ sets per week per muscle group appeared necessary to maximise increases in muscle mass (1).  This can be further optimised by spreading your training of each body part over multiple sessions per week.

Sets can include a variety of repetition(rep) ranges and we generally use 6 to 15 reps per set. Sets including 6-8 reps have been proven to result in increases in muscle size and strength. Whereas 12-15 reps have been proven to increase muscle size and endurance. We feel it’s important to incorporate both in our workouts. This allows us to target both slow and fast twitch muscle fibre types.

Be careful – You can do too much

It is also important to note that if your training volume is too much it will result in less growth and over training.

“Also there is certainly a threshold for volume beyond which hypertrophic adaptions plateau and perhaps even regress due to over training. “(1)

The optimal amount of resistance training will vary between individuals. Factors that can effect this will be; genetics, training experience, quality of recovery, age, stress levels outside of training, nutrition and sleep.

This concurs with another landmark review in 2007 (2). The study found that optimal muscle growth came from a training volume of between 42 and 66 repetitions split between 4-6 sets per body part per day (2). We think it is wise to stick to these parameters but we may increase when working with advanced lifters.

Resistance and Training Volume

The resistance (weight) used for each exercise is also an important component of training volume. It shouldn’t be compared to other exercises though as a direct comparison can not be drawn. For example, Leg Pressing 140kg for 3 sets of 10 is not better than Squatting 80kg for 3 sets of 10. However, it is important to increase the resistance used on each exercise when possible to further stimulate growth. This process is crucial for ongoing success and is often referred to as Progressive Overload.

Key Points

To optimise your training volume and results –

  • Complete 10+ sets per body part per week.
  • Sets should include varying rep ranges
  • Don’t over train

During our next post, we will be taking an evidence-based look at optimising Training Intensity.

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1 – Does- response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta -analysis.

2 – The Influence of Frequency, Intensity, Volume and Mode of Strength Training on Whole Muscle….