One of the most important, if not the most important, training variables is training volume. You may be asking yourself, what exactly is training volume? Before we dive into some thoughts about it, lets explain this variable. It's simply the total amount of work that you are performing, either daily, weekly, monthly, or annually. This is how you take into consideration of how many workouts you do in a week, the sets and rep schemes, how many miles, how many steps, etc...This is the total workload, not the weight or the pace, that's intensity. And it's also not which exercises you do, that's exercise selection.
Doing Too Little Volume
Most people that workout, are probably not performing enough volume to make real big improvements to their fitness levels like they'd really hope to. Assuming that they're not exercising/training enough frequently throughout the week, not getting the most out of their gym workouts, or not performing enough exercises that they may need can really hinder someones progress. Part of training smart, is knowing how to train hard. And training hard, requires a decent amount of volume!
Doing Too Much Volume
On the flip side, some people do too much volume. Sometimes, people who are very motivated, will get ambitious and do too much too soon. This is a problem because you will get quick results, but you will hit your ceiling of progress too soon and you will be left scratching your head. These people will often get injured way more easily than someone with a smarter (long term minded) approach. This also happens a lot in athletic teams. Coaches will throw everything and the kitchen sink at their athletes to get them ready for the season. They'll do so much work that they are probably not rprepared for, that they'll actually head into the season beat up with too much fatigue. It may take them 3 to 4 weeks to allow their bodies to catch up.
What's the Correct Amount?
Well to be honest, out of all of the variables that a coach needs to figure in order to train their athletes/clients, volume is almost always the one leaving the most questions. Because the reality is, we truly can't give you a straight up answer, or know an exact answer but we know how important training volume is. But I can give you some recommendations how to plan your training volume so that you can train hard, but also not over do it.
In training, you want to achieve this certain balance of training hard enough to stress your body, but recovering enough to grow and adapt from it. You want to think in the mindset of stimulating, not annihilating. This will allow room for progress in the future if you need to add in more volume. Also, when you annihilate yourself, you may actually take so long to recover that it actually hurts your adaption phases and your fitness levels could end up going backwards...
Below I'm going to lay out a few key generalized principles that you can focus on to adjust the volume for yourself accordingly.
Training Volume is considered King of Training Variables. It ranks the highest of importance but it can easily be under utilized and not achieve the results you wanted or it can be over utilized and you will experience negative training results. The best way to find what your best training volumes is, is to start of low and slowly add in more when you feel progress is slowing down, or when you feel like your workouts are not properly challenging to you anymore. It's only one variable in the whole picture, but YOU MUST pay close attention to your Training Volume!
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