Training variables for hypertrophy: the volume


Talking about volume is talking about the most important variant to consider in a training program focused on strength gain or hypertrophy. The volume of training is closely linked to other equally important variants such as frequency or intensity. Defining this variable can be easy, quantify it, not so much.

We will define the volume as the amount of work we do training. Depending on the sport we practice, we will use different ways to quantify it. In this case, as the article we will focus on the volume for the improvement of muscle hypertrophy, the volume will be the number of series we perform per muscle group on a weekly basis. Although, of course, we could also talk about the volume per session.

It is very likely that the following question arises: to quantify that volume, all the series are worth? As Bret Contreras observes, it depends on how hard you try in each series. Recently, a method for quantifying training volume was shown. We can count as effective series that working in ranges of 6-25 repetitions, do not leave more than 4 in bedroom *.

Once we have defined the volume of training, the next point is to know how much training volume should be done to achieve the goal of increasing muscle mass. We must know that the greater the volume of training, the greater the gains in muscle mass. However, it is good to know that each person has a roof and that overcoming it will not bring us any benefit. It is very important to keep this in mind both when we talk about the volume of a workout and when we talk about the volume of weekly training.

Defining the volume of training we need is not easy since each person is different. The optimal volume varies between people and even varies over the life of the same person. There are many factors that must be taken into account when defining correctly, for example, the level of training, nutrition, rest, the stress of the person or genetics, influence the recovery to training that will have a person, and therefore, in the volume of training that will endure.

It must be clear that not everyone tolerates the same volume, nor do all muscles endure the same volume of training. For this reason, you can not give an exact pattern that suits everyone equally.

This table is taken from Revive Stronger and is based on the work of Dr. Mike Israetel, who gives us a practical guide with certain references so that, through generating a progressive overload, we can find our optimal volume to improve.

In this table, 4 reference volumes are marked. The first, the MV, is the minimum volume needed to maintain muscle mass gains. The MEV is the minimum volume we need to start producing profits and the MAV is the volume of training volume where we will generate more profits. Finally, we find the MRV, which is the maximum volume that we could recover from, our roof.

These ranges of volumes proposed by Dr. Mike Israetel are valid whenever you are in ranges of 8-25 repetitions with loads enter 60-85%, close to muscle failure but with no more than 3-4 repetitions in the breach.

Having seen and understood the four volumes, we must keep in mind that our objective will be to look for our MAV and within our mesocycle spend as much time as possible, touching the MRV only in a timely manner.

To start with the MEV we can use this table or know that most studies talk about volumes between 10 and 20 weekly series for muscle mass gains. If we are newbies, start with a lower volume, it would not be bad either.

When using the table, it is observed how, for example, the MEV of the pectoralis 10-12, being our level or physical condition low. In this case, we would start at 10 and then observe our recovery. If after this training we have many laces, we should lower the volume during the following week, because if we have been slow to recover that was not our MEV. Once our recovery improves, we will use the principle of progressive overload to increase the volume to about two series per week. It is necessary to emphasize that if we increase this volume in all muscle groups, our progress will be slower, so the most logical proposal should be to increase the volume in the muscles that we want to emphasize.

Another way to increase the volume in novels can be through increasing the number of repetitions and not the number of series. For example, if the first week you do 3 sets of 10 repetitions in the bench press and in the openings and the second week you do 3 sets of 12 repetitions in both exercises, you will be doing 12 extra series, that is, one more series.

Once the overload starts, it lasts between 4 and 6 weeks, and when you begin to notice that you do not recover so well, you will know that it is time to make a download.

It is ideal that at the beginning a training diary is written, noting the work done, series, repetitions, kilos and even sensations, how you feel at the end of each training or at the end of each week. In this way, when the download stage is passed, another mesocycle can be raised again, knowing the MEV better.

Once we are clear about the optimal training volume to gain muscle mass, two questions can arise:

  • Should this volume be done in a single session or can I divide it into several sessions?
  • Should that number of series work at the same intensity?

As Bret Contreras says, “it’s not about doing as much training as you can. The goal is to make all the training volume that you can recover from and strengthen yourself “


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