As you go about putting together a workout protocol for yourself, there are a number of factors to be addressed. Workout split, exercise selection, total reps and sets performed and the amount of rest you take are all things that you should plan out carefully.
Sets and reps are among the most important factors to consider because they will directly impact the volume of each workout session; the volume of a session refers to a combination of sets, reps and the amount of resistance used and it can make or break a program.
If your volume is too little, you won’t see results since there won’t be an effective overload of your muscle tissues. If your volume is too much on the other hand, you’ll move into a state of overtraining, which could potentially hinder your ability to exercise at all.
So, let’s walk through some of the key factors that impact your workout volume so you can design a workout plan that best suits you.
1. Your Training Status
The very first thing that you’ll need to consider is your training status. How experienced are you? Those who have more training experience will be able to use more volume than those who are just starting. The more experienced you are the more your body is used to the constant loading and the better it’s able to recover.
Remember, just like with any other activity, you need to work up intensity as you progress along. If you were a new runner, you wouldn’t begin your journey with a 10 mile run—you’d likely start with something smaller, like alternating between 30-second bouts of running and walking.
The same goes for strength training, start with smaller goals and work your way up in intensity.
All of your lifestyle habits influence your recovery ability. So if you have a lifestyle that keeps you on the go (thus not allowing time for rest and recovery), or you’re highly stressed (which taxes your immune system), or you aren’t getting enough sleep (when the bulk of recovery is going to take place), all of these habits will negatively impact your ability to bounce back from higher volume workout sessions.
3. Your Nutrition
Your nutritional intake is the next element to consider. Are eating enough calories? Are you getting the proper amount of carbohydrates to fuel your intense workout sessions?
If you are on a diet plan eating less than what your body needs, then you will automatically have lower recovery capabilities. If you have a lower recovery capability this should automatically signal that you need to decrease your volume.
Your nutrition has a direct correlation with how much volume you can handle, so it’s important that you ensure a healthy intake.
4. Your Workout Intensity
Finally, think about your workout intensity. Are you taking sets to failure? If so, that means you’ll require more time for recovery and that you should consider less volume for each session.
Intense sets will be very taxing on the body so you’ll be able to do fewer sets overall before you start to feel fried and need to get out of the gym.
So keep these four factors in mind when determining the volume that you choose to use in your workout program. Make sure to start on the conservative side and build up from there as that will help prevent overtraining. Otherwise once overtraining happens, it’s a tough problem to fix.