Are you getting the strength gains you want from your training program? If not, more volume may be what you need. This conclusion comes from the most recent edition of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Researchers took 27 participants and divided them into four groups. Each group trained three times per week for six weeks, except the control group. They stayed at home and crushed donuts.
The low-volume group performed three sets during their workout. The medium-volume group performed six sets, and the high-volume group performed nine sets. Everyone trained the bench press, upright row, and Smith Machine squat – I assume because real squats are too hard.
At the end of the six weeks all groups improved significantly in strength. However, the high-volume group improved the most. Specifically in squats, the high-volume group blew away everyone else, showing four times the gains as the low-volume group.
Lesson learned today: you may be able to accelerate your strength gains by adding more volume to your training. Now, a couple caveats. First, participants in this study had never lifted weights before the study started. Drawing conclusions from beginners can be dangerous, because everything improves strength in a beginner. The most ridiculous training program in the world will give you gains if you’re starting at couch potato status.
Next, I don’t consider the high-volume program in this study to really be a “high-volume” program for anyone. Seriously, the high-volume program was three sets of bench press, three sets of rows, three sets of squats, grab a smoothie, and call it a day. So if your program already has you in the gym for two hours per day, then adding more volume may not be the answer.
But for beginners who are just getting started, this is a clear nudge to try a bit more volume. Your body will eventually build the ability to recover from high-volume work. Just take your time working up to it, and don’t do your squats in the Smith Machine.
1. Fernando Naclerio, et al. Effects of Different Resistance Training Volumes on Strength and Power in Team Sport Athletes. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: July 2013 – Volume 27 – Issue 7 – p 1832–1840. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182736d10.
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