Volume has been shown to be a decisive factor in your training, particularly in relation to strength and size increases. Volume incorporates -
For example, if you were to squat 142.5kg for 4 sets of 8 you would have a volume of 4,560kg.
The weekly volume is also important when it comes making gains. If your weekly volume does not beat that of the previous week then you are not progressing. Simple as.
Volume, coupled with progressive overload are two of the main factors in increasing your strength and size.
Whereas volume is the quantitative variable, intensity is the qualitative one. The more work that a person does within a single session, then the more intense that session is. The intensity depends on the load, speed of performance and variation of rest between sets/reps. One point often overlooked about intensity is the psychological effect it can have on a person.
In the case of strength or size gains intensity would depend mainly upon the load utilised in a workout. For example reps at 80% would be a lot more intense than singles at 70%.
Relationship between Volume and Intensity.
As the volume goes up in a workout the intensity should come down, and vice versa. Whichever variable you decide to focus on will have a different effect upon your body's adaptation. Finding the optimal balance of both is a tricky task. Strength athletes could use Prilepin's chart to this end.
To sum up -
Volume is an important factor when it comes to increasing size and strength, however, keep the intensity in check. You would be right to assume upping the weight lifted would lead to an increase in volume, however the effect that this would have upon your CNS could be devastating. Learn to keep them both in check!
Progressive overload put simply is the slow increase of the work done during a workout. This increase can be done via the weight lifted, the repetitions per set or the sets themselves.
The body yearns to be in a state of homeostasis, if you push it past its normal point it will get your muscular system and your nervous system to a point where it returns to being comfortable. So if you were to do 3 sets of 8 of 60kg on the bench press your body would get used to this quickly (assuming its not too heavy for you) so you could either : - increase the weight by a small number, or the repetitions. For example you could either do 3 x 8 at 62.5kg on the next workout, or you could do 3 x 9 at 60kg on the next one.
If you were to follow the repetition increase I would go with adding a rep each week until you hit sets of 12, then you would increase the weight by 10% and go back to sets of 8. This simple progression scheme is what I did when I first started and it worked remarkably well for a good while. The reason this works is that by adding one rep to your set you are, theoretically, increasing your one rep max by 2.5% each time - hence the 10% increase.
Don't be fooled by it being called an overload, you do not want to make big jumps too suddenly. This can lead to injury or overtraining and either would be detrimental to your training.
A simple, and often overlooked, tool in increasing your strength is a notebook. This notebook can serve as your training diary/journal, in it you can write how your workout went with the difficulty and how you felt before, during and after. If you want to be really detailed you can also include your nutritional intake (the day of, and the days before the workout) and sleep quality in order to make evaluation easier.
The factors mentioned above can all be included in your self-evaluation. I'm sure many of you have had a particularly brilliant workout and wondered just why it happened as opposed to all those other workouts that have seemed like a mere grind. This is the way to figure it out. When keeping your diary be as detailed as you can, things to jot down would be : -
I'm sure that there are many more but even with these factors included in your evaluation you could figure out what it is that causes a great workout, or alternatively a poor one. Another obvious benefit of keeping a training journal is that you have a record and can see how far you've come, how much volume/intensity you have manipulated and how much progressive overload you have implemented.
Rest and Recovery
When people try to get bigger and/or stronger they tend to learn towards working as hard as they can without stopping to think about the toll this is taking on their body and their mind. I include the mind here as when you tax yourself physically you also tax your central nervous system which leads to psychological and emotional stress also.
After an athlete has trained they become fatigued, and the more fatigued they are then the greater the repercussions are on the athlete. These aftereffects include - poor coordination, low recovery rate and, decreased speed and power in muscular contractions. Emotional fatigue is also a common aftereffect of physical fatigue, as mentioned earlier, especially after a particularly hard session or a competition. It's easy to see here that training again in this condition could be detrimental to your training.
Recovery must become a daily part of your training plan, allow yourself this time to recover so that you can truly give it your all the next time around.
There are also various factors that need to be considered when looking at recovery rates, which include : -
When it comes to recovery you can try various means, such as -
Periodisation will encompass all of the tips from the previous posts this week. A well periodised plan will include: sufficient volume and intensity (in relation to each other) ; progressive overload ; evaluation and ; sufficient rest and recovery.
What is periodisation?
Periodization is a form or resistance training that may be defined as strategic implementation of specific training phases. These training phases are based upon increasing and decreasing both volume (which is reps times sets) and intensity (which is the load or percentage of 1RM) when designing a training program.
By using a periodised plan you force yourself to do all of the tips which I have described this week. For example a plan could be written for you to do squats 3 x in a week, each day with different sets, repetitions and percentage of weight (an example of manipulating the volume and intensity), the next week would be the same but plus 5kg (progressive overload), the days in between would be an example of the rest and recovery. The evaluation would be where you look back at a workout and decide whether your form was good enough, how easy you found it and how you felt during it - if anything needs changing then this is where you find it and it will be upto you or your trainer/coach to find these issues. Or alternatively, to highlight your awesomeness.
A good periodised plan can be anywhere from a week to multiple years, Olympic athletes would have their training laid out for the next 4 years at a time! Using this style of training lets you know how on track you are to achieving your goals. Personally, since I've properly periodised my training I've found myself surprised at how easy it is to not only reach, but massively surpass, certain goals.
Definitely give it a go, if you've never written a workout before then I'd suggest you ask for help, you likely won't get it correct the first time. This is not just so I can offer my own services to do so, obviously - I've got to put food on the table, of course, but it does take experience and knowledge to do so and I'd hate for anyone to get disappointed with their training and quit, or worse, injured.
6 Week Strength. - Beginner level.
If you've been looking to get into strength training but haven't found an ideal way then luckily I have a 6 week plan starting in February 2018 which is ideal for you.
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