Training volume

Or why more is not always better.

Ok, let set things straight: most of you don’t train nearly as much as you should. There, I said it. “But I work out 3 times per week!” My point exactly. That’s maintenance training. That’s avoiding decrepitude. It’s not getting in shape. The human body is made to be active every damn day. Maybe not doing heavy deadlifts every day, but it’s made to sustain quite a bit of damage before breaking down from the physical demand. You’re not getting results? Try training for real. Stop making excuses. Don’t try to make me believe in your busy schedule and whatever reason you’re making up.

Ok, vent over. Now lets focus on the other end of the spectrum. That person who has the objectives. That person who has the will to attain them. That person who counts every calorie they ingest and burn (which is a very simplistic, inaccurate, and overall inadequate way of seeing nutrition and exercise, but that’s a matter for another post). That person who wants it. So much so that they get impatient and end up with the following reflection: If I train 5 times per week and it gives me that much in terms of results, working out that much more can only get me closer to my objective, right? RIGHT? Yeah, not really.

Optimal volume

Let start by making sure everybody understands what training volume you should do. You should be doing just enough training as you’re able to recover from. No, that doesn’t mean you need to wait until the soreness is completely gone, or else you’re in for a lifetime of diabetes. Most people can withstand 5 days of training a week without seeing any adverse effects. The best way would be 3 days on, 1 day of, repeated indefinitely, but that’s difficult to manage sometimes. So, a good 5 on, 2 off works for most people.

In terms of quantity of training per session, I could be very specific, but I’ll say this: unless you’re tailoring your life around your training, have proper sleeping habits, eat perfectly well (and in adequate quantity) and do proper mobility and other maintenance work, you shouldn’t do much more than an hour at a time of moderate to high intensity exercise. Now if you’re going to do anything more than that, you’ll have to make sure everything is tuned the right way and reflects your specific objectives.


Now the problem arises when you decide to randomly add exercise sessions that usually add up in reps and sets, crank up the intensity with absolutely no knowledge of what the week’s worth of training did to your body. No, fitness magazines don’t have the answer to all your fitness needs. They can sell you a mad heart rate monitor though.


Hopefully, you have some sort of a knowledgeable person taking care of your fitness habits. A coach, trainer, kinesiologist. Someone who knows better than you about what your body should do without risking any problems. Here’s the solution. Read carefully, as it is a little technical: LISTEN TO THEM. Hear them, and do what they tell you to do. No matter how smart you think you are, you don’t know more than they do about that subject. Sorry to say. I know, internet has all the knowledge. It’s not about knowledge. It’s about applying that knowledge.

Don’t get me wrong, adding physical activity in your life is great. But there’s a difference between adding a small jog or a hockey game with friends, or whatever, and busting out 150 burpees in a weekend workout when you came in the gym 5 consecutive days to actually train. Not only is it useless (there’s a whole hormonal chain reaction I’m not going to explain right now), it’s counterproductive as you’ll just end up too tired to give 100% on your next workout. And that extra workout will serve as an excuse for that lack of intensity. And we don’t like excuses.


Do what your coach told you to do. Don’t follow what internet or fitness magazines say. You’re wasting your time and money. Including what you spent on that heart rate monitor.

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