Quantified training for Hypertrophy and Strength (Part 1)
So, you’ve been quantifying your nutrition. Great! You got good results? Of course, yes. You will definitely get amazing fat loss results and little lean muscle gains too. But have you been quantifying your exercise? If you say yes and tell me that you keep a track of your volume. Well! let me tell you, it’s like keeping a track of your overall calories in your diet and you don’t care about underlying macros like protein, carbohydrates and fats. Do you think only calories matter in your diet? No right. Similarly, Volume is not the only thing to keep a track of, in your training. Before you proceed further and learn how to quantify your training. Let me explain why you need to quantify your training. You are quantifying your training to put on some lean muscle mass (also called as muscle hypertrophy) and gain some strength. How does adding muscle help? Well ladies and gentlemen. Who doesn’t like to be lean here? Almost everyone does right. Having more lean mass helps you burn more calories in a day for the similar activity you perform. Which also means you get to eat slightly more food and still get leaner at the same pace. And of course, you need muscles for aesthetic purposes as well. Now that we have understood the importance for adding lean muscle mass. Let’s go ahead and understand different fundamentals of training. I would like to create a relation with nutrition so that you guys will understand this better. For today we’ll discuss Training Volume Think of training volume as calories of your training plan. Like how calories in your diet is one of the most important factor which decided fat loss or weight gain, training volume of your muscles decides if you are going lose or retain or gain muscle. And it also affects your strength levels too. Training volume is nothing but the amount of work you perform using a particular muscle for a certain period. So, volume is specific to a muscle group and If you are someone who trains 3 muscles in a single day, you cannot add total volume of all three muscle groups and say this is the volume you did (because it doesn’t make sense). I’ll give you another example to tell you why volume is specific to a muscle group. You might have observed at least 1 person in your whole life who skips leg day in the gym. Now he can perform an optimal training volume for a week for all the muscles except leg muscles. So not training leg muscles implies 0 volume performed by his leg muscles (not considering the amount of work that person performs by standing or walking in general and counting it as a NEAT activity). Do you think this person is going to gain any muscle in his legs? No right. So that is why, you need to keep a track of volume PER MUSCLE per week. Now let me explain volume in detail. Let’s say you performed a barbell bench press with 60kgs for 10 reps for 4 sets. Which means you moved 60 kgs for 10 times in a single set (nothing but you moved a total of 600 kgs in single set). And since you are doing this for 4 sets, the amount of work done is 600*4 = 2400kgs. Now that’s the volume in that exercise. You might be doing additional chest exercises in that session which means additional volume performed for chest and other muscles involved in those movements on that day. We can simply define this by below equation and can be named as Training volume load Training volume load = weight lifted * sets performed * reps performed Now there are some drawbacks with this definition, first being there are some exercises for a certain muscle group, where you perform with light weight and still put on same or more muscle when compared to another exercise where you lift crazy heavy weights. (for example, Barbell squat vs leg press for your Quad muscles) We know we can push more weights with leg press, if you don’t know, you can try this at the gym and find out. Which means as per the above definition we can do more volume with leg press when compared to Squat. But that doesn’t mean, you’ll be able to put on more muscle with leg press when compared to squat. (A study by Escamilla et al, 2001, showed that both narrow stance and wide stance squats activated more rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and gastrocnemius activity than narrow stance and wide stance leg presses; both with a low foot placement and a high foot placement.) and second being you might try and go till failure in each set to maximize your training volume load. Now this might sound great to do, but it’s not really good for your muscle growth. A study by JA Sampson et al, 2015 has shown that training to failure is not best for muscle growth and rather stopping the set with 1 or 2 reps in the tank has boosted the lifter’s performance in the following sets. So there is a better definition for Volume to keep things simple and that’s called set volume (courtesy INFS ESS course). A set volume is nothing but the number of working sets you perform per muscle with the following conditions 1. You should train at a min of 40% of the maximum weight you can lift in that exercise for 1 rep maximum. 2. You should train with 1-3 reps left before you hit failure. If you stop with 4 or more reps left before you hit failure, do not count that set. 3. And you should train for atleast 6 reps in each set for muscle growth. (It is still a set if you do heavy lifting with less than 6 reps, but it’s not going to aid much in your muscle growth). Now I’ll stop here for today. I’ll come back with a lot more information about training volume in my next article. For now I’ll conclude this article by saying that, I trained my chest thrice in this week with 10 sets in each session. So my training volume for my chest muscle for this week is 30 sets.