In this post & video you are gonna learn the difference between volume and intensity as they relate to weight training…
So over the next few minutes you’re gonna learn:
- What these two things are…
- How they relate to your training…
- And most importantly, how you can manipulate these really important training variables to get the results that you really want from your weight lifting.
So first of all, what are they?
What Is Workout Volume?
Volume basically refers to how many times you can perform a given exercise.
And this is clearly dependent on the number of reps & sets that you perform.
What Is Workout Intensity?
Intensity refers to how much weight you lift during the given exercise.
And it’s important to know that this is relative to your personal strength level.
A Workout Volume vs Intensity Example
So to explain what I mean by this, consider two different guys:
The first guy has just started working out, and his max bench is 135 pounds. That’s the most weight he can bench press with 1 rep.
The second guy has been lifting for a while, and his max bench is 225 pounds.
Guy #1, Max Bench 135 lbs
Doing a set of bench press for 135 pounds is a HIGH-INTENSITY set for this guy, because it’s the maximum amount of weight he’s able to lift for 1 rep.
But that would be a LOW-VOLUME set for him, because he could only do it for one rep (135×1).
Guy #2, Max Bench 225 lbs
Doing a set of bench press for 135 pounds is a LOW-INTENSITY set for this guy, because compared to his absolute strength, it’s a fairly light weight.
For that reason, let’s say he could do 16 reps in one set. This would be a HIGH-VOLUME set because he performed so many reps.
Some Things To Notice…
I hope you can see how the SAME weight (135 lbs) can be high-intensity for one person and low-intensity for another.
You’ve probably also noticed that volume and intensity seem to have an INVERSE relationship.
As intensity goes up, volume must come down. And vice-versa.
And that’s true!
But workout volume vs intensity isn’t an “either/or” thing. Instead, there’s a continuum, a scale. We might depict it like this:
Every set you perform is going to fall somewhere on this continuum. And the important thing to realize is this:
Where you are on this continuum determines the effect of your training!
The more aware you are of how volume & intensity work, and the effect they have on your training results…
Then the better your results are going to be!
And while the whole workout volume vs intensity scale could go on forever (there’s no upper limit to how many reps you can perform if you take the weight down to nothing), we can zero in on the most effective range on this graph for muscle size & strength.
This is the volume/intensity “sweet spot” for weight lifting:
Perform LESS than 5 reps and you’re training primarily for strength (not size).
Perform MORE than 12 reps and you’re primarily training for endurance (not size or strength).
But between 5-12 and you are in the right spot: the perfect blend of workout volume & intensity to trigger maximum hypertrophy in your muscles.
Within that range, some of the more common rep ranges include:
There Is No One Best Rep Range
You should always be varying your workouts to include a different range of reps (within that 5-12 range), volumes, and intensities.
Even if your only goal is hypertrophy…
…you still need to build strength.
And here are 4 reasons why:
4 Reasons Why Muscle Size (Hypertrophy) Is Dependent On Muscle Strength
- 8-12 reps is best for size…BUT doing sets of 5 reps improves your strength, which allows you perform 8-12 reps with more weight in the future.
- Training at lower reps really focuses on your fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have a huge potential for muscle growth and size.
- Switching between higher volume & higher intensity helps you to blast through plateaus and sticking points. (So if you’re stuck at 225 lbs and you’re doing 8-12 reps, try switching to 5×5 reps for a while to build strength. When you go back to 8-12, you’ll blast right through that 225-pound plateau.)
- Training with lower volume is useful when you are on a diet and not consuming enough calories to fuel a high-volume workout. (Helps to preserve muscle while losing fat.)
Follow A More Intelligent Training System
For the easy way to optimize your training volume & intensity, not to mention…
- Exercise Selection
- Proper Form
- Workout Frequency
And more, I recommend you check out my flagship training program:
It’s the complete body recomposition training system you need to optimize your training & nutrition, get the most from your limited time in the gym, and chisel out that powerful, shredded body you’ve always wanted.