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  1. #1
    Registered User sy2502's Avatar
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    Volume vs Intensity

    I am a simple person, I don't follow complex training schemes, I go in, I pick up the heaviest weight I can handle for about 10 reps, I rep to failure, rinse and repeat. I love handling heavy weights, I like to challenge myself, I like to feel like I left everything I had on the gym floor. Of course, because I always train to my limits, I need longer rest between sets, and I can't spend hours and hours in the gym, so the overall number of sets I do isn't huge.

    After reading and hearing so much about time under tension, I am considering trying higher volume training. But if I do more sets, and don't want to spend hours in the gym, I need to shorten my rest between sets and therefore I must use lighter weights.

    I know it's so cliche but I worry about losing strength. So what do you guys think, is it worth changing my training, and how do I avoid losing strength?
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    Registered User x-trainer ben's Avatar
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    I don't think the strength leaves as fast as many on these boards do. If you have been at it a while( more than a year) you may lose a percentage, but by volume training, you don't just wake up weak!
    Go heavy one or 2 times per month to see where you are and adjust. Muscle does not vanish as fast as some claim unless you are really sick, and strength doesn't either, unless you have an issue with food or health. just my 2 cents. Your genetics may vary
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    Squats and Milk Bando's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by sy2502 View Post
    I pick up the heaviest weight I can handle for about 10 reps, I rep to failure, rinse and repeat. I love handling heavy weights, I like to challenge myself, I like to feel like I left everything I had on the gym floor........ I am considering trying higher volume training......I worry about losing strength........ how do I avoid losing strength?
    Usually I come into these threads and say "what is your goal, strength or physique?" and invariably the answer is "both."

    How do you define strength? If it's 1RM then you should be working in the 3-5 range.

    I suspect you want to be strong in the 6-12 "hypertrophy range." If that's the case I wouldn't go over 14-15 reps unless it's your last set and you feel like you left something in the tank you need to burn off.
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    There's always tradeoffs. When I did German volume training, I lost strength, but I gained size and weight fast. Nuckols had a good article recently that showed very little difference between the strength and size gained by people who do intensity vs volume. It looked at a few dozen studies to come to the conclusion. That said, you should always vary things every 6 months to avoid repeated bout effect.
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    🅾🅼🅴🅶🅰 🆆🅴🅰🅿🅾🅽 EjnarKolinkar's Avatar
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    Many programs lead off with a primary higher intensity compound. Using a lower rep range, longer rest periods, and a high % of max. Subsequent volume work is often then performed. For example programs like 5/3/1, or Mutaffis PPL

    Others use alternating intensity and volume days like PHUL for example.


    Originally Posted by sy2502 View Post
    After reading and hearing so much about time under tension, I am considering trying higher volume training.
    I don't think you necessarily need to toss your whole program FWIW. Have you ever considered just using a higher volume approach for a lift or two for a period and see how that goes, while retaining the majority of the program you like?

    I guess I just don't thing the approaches need to be all or nothing, many top programs combine them over the course of a session or a training week.
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    My first impression was that if you are hitting 10 reps with the heaviest weight you can handle, you are getting some high-quality time under tension.

    I would not lose what you are doing. What I would do is add some sets where you may drop the weights (say to the 65-70% range of 1 RM), and do some higher rep sets. I would not do those all at the end. I would intersperse them.

    For instance, I would try a rep scheme of 8-16-8-12-8. If five sets doesn't fit your workout, you could try 10-16-8.

    My point is I would not throw out something that looks like it is working for you.

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    Originally Posted by sy2502 View Post
    I am a simple person, I don't follow complex training schemes, I go in, I pick up the heaviest weight I can handle for about 10 reps, I rep to failure, rinse and repeat. I love handling heavy weights, I like to challenge myself, I like to feel like I left everything I had on the gym floor. Of course, because I always train to my limits, I need longer rest between sets, and I can't spend hours and hours in the gym, so the overall number of sets I do isn't huge.

    After reading and hearing so much about time under tension, I am considering trying higher volume training. But if I do more sets, and don't want to spend hours in the gym, I need to shorten my rest between sets and therefore I must use lighter weights.

    I know it's so cliche but I worry about losing strength. So what do you guys think, is it worth changing my training, and how do I avoid losing strength?
    I am trying to understand the question. So you want longer time under tension, in the same amount of time spent in the gym, right? You are trying to get volume, but to keep time shorter or at least same, you think about lowering intensity? Like working with lighter weights? I honestly don't think you can cheat like that. I experimented with different training schemes over last few years, and strongly believe that time under tension invariably comes with longer overall time in the saddle. Which is - longer time spent in a gym, either training sessions should be longer, or two sessions a day. This is rarely discussed here. When you configure some training schemes, to exhaust the muscle, and to hit it from different angles, and with decent frequency (twice a week minimum), then math does not work into a regular 5 days a week 40-minute workout. Now, throw in longer time under tension and the whole thing takes even longer. My 2c


    Your training perhaps the most time-efficient as it is. Volume training, like 10-sets for example, takes forever, because you still need quality rest periods between sets. But if you want to cut down the time by shortening your rests, if you rest for a minute, and your set takes about 30 seconds, you are already at close to 15 minutes per exercise. Higher reps (this is what I do most of the time), like 20-rep range, require longer rests, not less than 3 minutes between sets. Yes I do get way better time under tension, but each exercise takes the same 15 minutes for 4 quality sets. I am not sure how can you cheat
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    Registered User sy2502's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EjnarKolinkar View Post
    Many programs lead off with a primary higher intensity compound. Using a lower rep range, longer rest periods, and a high % of max. Subsequent volume work is often then performed. For example programs like 5/3/1, or Mutaffis PPL

    Others use alternating intensity and volume days like PHUL for example.




    I don't think you necessarily need to toss your whole program FWIW. Have you ever considered just using a higher volume approach for a lift or two for a period and see how that goes, while retaining the majority of the program you like?

    I guess I just don't thing the approaches need to be all or nothing, many top programs combine them over the course of a session or a training week.
    In the year before my last competition, I tried a training scheme where I alternated a week of high weight, high intensity workout with a week of drop sets (start with my max weight for the 1st set, then progressively lower the weight at each set until either I am fried or the weight is too light to be worth using). I had very good muscle growth results with it, especially for a crusty old natty lady, which was why I started looking more into volume training. I wondered if volume every other week gave me such good results, would volume every week give even better results? That's where the idea came from.
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    Clearly Irrational blue9steel's Avatar
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    Some kind of periodization of intensity/volume is a cornerstone of virtually any good lifting routine. The heavy/light routine you followed before competition is a classic example of one way to handle that, though personally I wouldn't do well drop setting every exercise. Sets of ten are pretty high volume already for a single set, generally if you want more volume I'd add sets rather than reps at that point. Generically anything between about 24-52 or so (sets times reps) is going to get you some hypertrophy gains (excluding extreme examples of course). Below that you'll be more neural strength focused and above that more endurance focused, though it's more of an emphasis thing than a cutoff.

    Personally I happen to like wave periodization ala 5/3/1, though my program uses 4x10/5x5/3x3 instead.
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    I know exactly what you're saying.


    But you may have to reframe the way you define 'strength.'


    Louie Simmons said there are many ways to get 'strong.'

    a) Increase weight.
    b) Increase reps.
    c) Increase sets.
    d) Decrease rest time between sets.
    e) A little bit of this or that, or a little bit of everything.

    You with me so far? Progress can also be measured by how long you rest.



    So let's pick an exercise, say squats. Imagine the two scenarios:


    A) Let's say you squat 5 sets x 10 reps @ 135-lbs. That's a total volume of 6750-lbs (5 x 10 x 135).

    B) Let's say you squat 5 sets x 10 reps @ 125-lbs. So the total volume here is 6250-lbs.


    The volume in A is clearly larger than B.


    But..

    What if it took you 20 minutes to complete A, and only 10 minutes to complete B.

    So now,

    A) You lifted 337.5-lbs a minute. (6750 lbs / 20 min)

    B) You lifted a whopping 625-lbs a minute.

    By reframing the criteria with which to measure your progress, B shows improvement even if you lifted less.


    I know TUT is a popular tool in bodybuilding. In weightlifting, we don't have TUT but we use a similar method called EMOM - Every Minute on the Minute, where singles are done every 60 seconds. Because the lifts are naturally explosive it is impossible to prolong each lift, so we improve by reducing the rest in between singles.

    The same method can be applied to BB.
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    Originally Posted by NorwichGrad View Post
    I know exactly what you're saying.


    But you may have to reframe the way you define 'strength.'


    Louie Simmons said there are many ways to get 'strong.'

    a) Increase weight.
    b) Increase reps.
    c) Increase sets.
    d) Decrease rest time between sets.
    e) A little bit of this or that, or a little bit of everything.

    You with me so far? Progress can also be measured by how long you rest.



    So let's pick an exercise, say squats. Imagine the two scenarios:


    A) Let's say you squat 5 sets x 10 reps @ 135-lbs. That's a total volume of 6750-lbs (5 x 10 x 135).

    B) Let's say you squat 5 sets x 10 reps @ 125-lbs. So the total volume here is 6250-lbs.


    The volume in A is clearly larger than B.


    But..

    What if it took you 20 minutes to complete A, and only 10 minutes to complete B.

    So now,

    A) You lifted 337.5-lbs a minute. (6750 lbs / 20 min)

    B) You lifted a whopping 625-lbs a minute.

    By reframing the criteria with which to measure your progress, B shows improvement even if you lifted less.


    I know TUT is a popular tool in bodybuilding. In weightlifting, we don't have TUT but we use a similar method called EMOM - Every Minute on the Minute, where singles are done every 60 seconds. Because the lifts are naturally explosive it is impossible to prolong each lift, so we improve by reducing the rest in between singles.

    The same method can be applied to BB.
    Good description.

    I'm a child of the Dorian Yates age, so to me power and strength is everything, I'm a firm believer that muscle development and efficiency is best reached with a focus on progressive weight, workload and low reps. I've always really worked fairly quickly, leaving myself less rest and also drained at the end of each workout. After 30-40 minutes I am exhausted, to the point that when I try to squeeze in one last set to reach exhaustion, I have to put the weight down, I know the moment I pick up the weight I'm already there. No need for me to risk injury or get diminishing returns, my work is done, go home, eat, rest.

    I am also a firm believer in intensity. You can toss a weight around without much focus on the muscle working, or, you can bear down and focus on the process. The way I see it, I'm here already, might as well get full value for my time. Can Intensity be measured? Fairly difficult outside of rest time, but you know that feeling in the brain and in the muscle when you are "connecting" if you will with the process.

    You can increase intensity by simply decreasing your rest time with your current routine, or, increasing your weight and lowering reps. You would be surprised how the body conditions itself to a heavy and intense workload even with short breaks. Quite often I enter the gym later than some of the regulars there and I am done before them. They are working intensely, they are going heavy, but, they take much longer breaks. All things being equal, my body is pushed further. As explained above, your total weight load overall for that day is much higher with less rest time.

    Of course, you have to know your body to avoid injury. You also need to know when to just say "I was planning 8 reps here and I can't get past 6, good enough considering my muscle exhaustion". You don't need to go to exhaustion every set, but by the end of the workout, I personally like to be there.

    If it adds any value to this discussion, as I can only speak about my own experiences. I have always worked out (except for my first couple of years) with a focus on HIT. After nearly a decade away from any weights (and much older), after four months of dedicated working out I am already past my former strength in my arms, legs, traps and lats. Close to my former strength on chest, shoulders. Have some work to do to return to my former level of strength in triceps. I was pleasantly surprised, even giddy by the fact my body has responded well and maintained much of my former strength. I attribute this to my history of relying on "intensity" without nearly as much volume as others rely on.

    Best of luck.
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    Originally Posted by NorwichGrad View Post
    I know exactly what you're saying.


    But you may have to reframe the way you define 'strength.'


    Louie Simmons said there are many ways to get 'strong.'

    a) Increase weight.
    b) Increase reps.
    c) Increase sets.
    d) Decrease rest time between sets.
    e) A little bit of this or that, or a little bit of everything.

    You with me so far? Progress can also be measured by how long you rest.



    So let's pick an exercise, say squats. Imagine the two scenarios:


    A) Let's say you squat 5 sets x 10 reps @ 135-lbs. That's a total volume of 6750-lbs (5 x 10 x 135).

    B) Let's say you squat 5 sets x 10 reps @ 125-lbs. So the total volume here is 6250-lbs.


    The volume in A is clearly larger than B.


    But..

    What if it took you 20 minutes to complete A, and only 10 minutes to complete B.

    So now,

    A) You lifted 337.5-lbs a minute. (6750 lbs / 20 min)

    B) You lifted a whopping 625-lbs a minute.

    By reframing the criteria with which to measure your progress, B shows improvement even if you lifted less.


    I know TUT is a popular tool in bodybuilding. In weightlifting, we don't have TUT but we use a similar method called EMOM - Every Minute on the Minute, where singles are done every 60 seconds. Because the lifts are naturally explosive it is impossible to prolong each lift, so we improve by reducing the rest in between singles.

    The same method can be applied to BB.
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    Originally Posted by sy2502 View Post
    I am a simple person, I don't follow complex training schemes, I go in, I pick up the heaviest weight I can handle for about 10 reps, I rep to failure, rinse and repeat. I love handling heavy weights, I like to challenge myself, I like to feel like I left everything I had on the gym floor. Of course, because I always train to my limits, I need longer rest between sets, and I can't spend hours and hours in the gym, so the overall number of sets I do isn't huge.

    After reading and hearing so much about time under tension, I am considering trying higher volume training. But if I do more sets, and don't want to spend hours in the gym, I need to shorten my rest between sets and therefore I must use lighter weights.

    I know it's so cliche but I worry about losing strength. So what do you guys think, is it worth changing my training, and how do I avoid losing strength?
    Many people believe high volume is the best way to gain strength rather than high intensity training, but according to the article High Intensity or High Volume? by Ken Mannie, both methods are effective. Both have proven to gain strength, so it depends on the individual and the situation. While you mentioned not having a lot of time at the gym, high intensity training might be considered since it is typically infrequent and brief. Many believe it is also beneficial to mix up workouts including both methods rather than solely focusing on one or the other.
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    Originally Posted by sy2502 View Post
    I am a simple person, I don't follow complex training schemes, I go in, I pick up the heaviest weight I can handle for about 10 reps, I rep to failure, rinse and repeat. I love handling heavy weights, I like to challenge myself, I like to feel like I left everything I had on the gym floor. Of course, because I always train to my limits, I need longer rest between sets, and I can't spend hours and hours in the gym, so the overall number of sets I do isn't huge.

    After reading and hearing so much about time under tension, I am considering trying higher volume training. But if I do more sets, and don't want to spend hours in the gym, I need to shorten my rest between sets and therefore I must use lighter weights.

    I know it's so cliche but I worry about losing strength. So what do you guys think, is it worth changing my training, and how do I avoid losing strength?
    I knew a guy in the IDF who was incredibly strong but was doing 300 rep workouts (as a goal) with 30 pound dumbbells. The goal is 300 reps without stopping. I thought it was BS until other guys said so, seriously. They don’t have access to a lot of equipment while patrolling the borders but having a pair of DB to kit along worked for them.
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    Originally Posted by sy2502 View Post
    I am a simple person, I don't follow complex training schemes, I go in, I pick up the heaviest weight I can handle for about 10 reps, I rep to failure, rinse and repeat. I love handling heavy weights, I like to challenge myself, I like to feel like I left everything I had on the gym floor. Of course, because I always train to my limits, I need longer rest between sets, and I can't spend hours and hours in the gym, so the overall number of sets I do isn't huge.

    After reading and hearing so much about time under tension, I am considering trying higher volume training. But if I do more sets, and don't want to spend hours in the gym, I need to shorten my rest between sets and therefore I must use lighter weights.

    I know it's so cliche but I worry about losing strength. So what do you guys think, is it worth changing my training, and how do I avoid losing strength?

    Heavy weight challenges your central nervous system and your bones. Going to failure with a light weight is more intense than going to failure with a heavy weight since at the end, you can lift less weight. I find it makes me more sore too.


    You can get volume with any weight if you stop long enough before failure. You won't need as much rest if you stop the set sooner. Then you can do more reps total. Whether that is good is another question. I enjoy spending time doing reps, and can do a lot more by doing several set far from failure. I have no idea if my way is good, but it is fun and keeps me coming back.





    ...


    If you want more volume in less time, you could alternate between push and pull sets, or upper and lower body, in the same workout. But that is a beginner routine. I use that 3x per week and don't rest between sets, other than 10 seconds to switch machines. People resting on a machine 5 minutes between 6 sets annoy me if I want that machine in my circuit.
    Last edited by Darkius; 09-24-2021 at 05:07 PM.
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    Originally Posted by ConcertinaWire View Post
    I knew a guy in the IDF who was incredibly strong but was doing 300 rep workouts (as a goal) with 30 pound dumbbells. The goal is 300 reps without stopping. I thought it was BS until other guys said so, seriously. They don’t have access to a lot of equipment while patrolling the borders but having a pair of DB to kit along worked for them.

    Light weights are very versatile like that. I read they don't increase 1rep max as fast as heavy weights do, but they still increase it in half twice the time, or it was half as much in the same time. And nothing wrong with building endurance.
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