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Knowing When to Increase or Decrease Your Training Volume: Some Considerations

training volume

Do you know when you should adjust your training volume? If you are wondering, "what even is training volume?" OR you said "no", this blog post may be exactly what you need to read (and learn) today.


Before understanding when or why to adjust training volume, it's important to know WHAT exactly you will be adjusting...


TRAINING VOLUME = TOTAL WEIGHT LIFTED (per session)

i.e.

WEIGHT (lbs) x REPS x SETS


Training volume is an important factor in determining the overall intensity and effectiveness of a training program, as it influences the amount of stress placed on the muscles, cardiovascular system, and other physiological systems, ultimately contributing to adaptations such as muscle growth, strength gains, and improved endurance.


In most cases, progressive overload is the goal. And when that's the goal, training volume is the variable that is being increased. However, there are some situations where it may be in your best interest to adjust this total volume and LOWER that number.

 

TRAVEL


Travel, for work or leisure, can often bring a change in both schedule and equipment availability. It's common to shift total training volume down when traveling due to the stress that travel alone can bring on the body. And oftentimes, hotels aren't equipped with much more than dumbbells and some cardio equipment.


split squat

Deloading training, or modifying your volume, can be implemented in this situation to better control recovery and inflammatory markers.


HIGH STRESS


When external stress is present - whether that be physical, emotional, or mental - overall recovery and performance can take a hit. While exercise can be helpful for stress as it releases endorphins...it shouldn't be used as "therapy" for these stressful seasons/events. (Exercise isn't therapy...therapy is therapy.) It's important to consider dialing back your training or making modifications to frequency to ensure your body is recovering.



IMPAIRED SLEEP


If you find yourself in a season where optimal sleep isn't a current reality -new baby, sick children, high demand shift work, frequent travel - then reducing or changing overall training volume may be wise. Optimal sleep requires your body to enter into and spend a solid amount of time in deep sleep (as this is where recovery really takes place). Interrupted sleep or going going to bed too late can interrupt this cycle and not allow enough time to get to/stay in deep sleep.

*Read more about sleep and training HERE. We have an entire post dedicated to it!


loading barbell

DEFICIT/FAT LOSS PHASE


During a deficit (or fat loss) phase, the body is depleted of calories (i.e. energy). When this happens, training endurance and strength often take a hit. To get the most out of your training during this phase without overtaxing the body, it may be helpful to modify training volume or adjusting the overall split itself. In fact, an anterior-posterior split could be a great option to aid in more consistent volume over the course of a week. Check out this post to learn about this style of training split and WHY we love it so much.




 

So HOW can you adjust your training volume?


standing in front of barbells

Simply go back to that formula shared above...


WEIGHT (lbs) x REPS x SETS


You can change one (or more) of these variables and it'll adjust total volume.

  • Decrease the number of sets

  • Decrease the number of reps

  • Keep reps/sets the same, but lower the weight used and aim for a lower RPE/RIR

  • Adjust your training split



Training volume is an important part of improving body composition, strength and overall endurance, but there are some instances where that needs to be modified. Taking 1 step back so you can take 2 steps forward.




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