Planning Your Workouts To Match Your Purpose
When designing your workout program, one thing that you need to consider is the amount of volume you’re doing each and every workout session.
Volume is based around how many reps you’re doing multiplied by the number of sets performed.
You can’t have too much volume or you’ll simply overtrain, dishing out more than you can recover from while at the same time, if you have to little volume, you won’t see progress.
How much volume you need will be determined by a number of factors, so let’s take a closer look at the ideals for each category of trainees.
If you are a beginner going to the gym for the very first time, you aren’t going to need that much volume to start seeing results.
In fact, most beginners can easily get away with doing one or two sets per exercise.
This is what’s typically best for them as their body is still getting used to the stimulus of strength training and doing anything more than this would likely be too much for them to recover from properly.
Once a beginner has been training for 2-3 months, they can then begin to slowly increase the volume.
Next you need to look at strength training individuals.
Strength training is going to call for very heavy loads, therefore the total volume of the program won’t be all that considerably high either.
Their rep range will typically be kept closer to the 3-5 rep range for most lifts, sometimes moving up into the 8 rep range for isolation type of movements.
Their total set number will generally be higher between three and five sets per exercise, however due to those lower reps, the total volume is still quite low.
Muscle building trainees are those who are looking to build muscular size and as such, will want to be using more volume overall.
Muscle building trainees will typically want to be aiming for rep ranges of 8-12 reps, performing 3-5 sets per workout session.
Seeing muscle growth progress is largely a function of the total amount of time under tension, so the more stress you can place the muscle under (while still getting adequate recovery time), the better your chances of seeing that growth will be.
Those training for this goal should begin slowly increasing the total volume of each workout they do until they have reached a place where they are doing 50 reps or more muscle group they are aiming to train.
It may take some time to build up to this level, but with patience, a good diet, and plenty of sleep, you can find yourself doing this level of training.
Those who are training for endurance related events and who are doing plenty of intense cardio sessions will not want to add as much volume to their strength training or it could possibly take away from how well they are able to perform during the sessions that really matter – their cardio workouts.
As such, two sets or so of each strength exercise they are doing should be sufficient.
It’s still a great idea for them to add some strength training work into their program to prevent injuries, but at this level, it could lead to overtraining.
Finally, the last group of individuals that should be considered are older adults.
Here again, older adults will not be able to recover as quickly between their sessions so volume should be kept to a low to moderate level.
Most older adults would be well served by doing two to three sets per set, aiming for around 10-15 reps per set total.
This, using a full body approach, tends to be ideal for this age group.
This has been a closer look at the main types of people and the type of volume each should aim for.
Remember that there are always exceptions to these guidelines, so learn your body and do what works best for you.
Your body will quickly tell you if you are doing too much volume as you won’t be recovering between your sessions.