What training volume is right for me?
Whether you’re starting your first ever weightlifting program or you’re an experienced bodybuilder who is looking to up their game with a fresh new approach, it is important to take a step back and consider what style of training is right for you.
In this article we’re going to look at a few factors that you should think about before starting your next training cycle so that you can really get the most from your efforts and make some serious gains.
Beginners – Low Volume
Recommended: 5×5, Basic upper/lower splits
If you are new to bodybuilding, powerlifting, or weightlifting in general then it is a good idea to start by training for just three days per week.
Training your upper and lower body on separate days is a good idea and you can even set it up so that you are training your pushing muscles (chest, triceps, shoulders), pulling muscles (back and biceps), and lower body (quads, hamstrings, calves) on individual sessions.
This will be a low frequency and low volume approach that allows you to focus on learning the basic exercises and building a strength base that will allow you to reap greater benefits from high volume training further down the line.
Intermediates – Moderate Volume
Recommended: Power Through
Once you’ve been training for a few years you might be ready to up your training frequency to around four or five days per week.
The exact number of days will depend on your existing goals and your recovery capacity; this can vary between individuals so ensure you don’t start training six days a week just because you saw Phil Heath or Jay Cutler doing so in a magazine.
Try training back, chest and shoulders, legs, and arms as individual workouts.
Advanced – High Volume
If you’ve been training seriously for 2 – 4 years or beyond then it might be time to really start upping both your volume and intensity, so it is a good idea to choose programs that specifically aim to achieve this.
Hopefully by this point you’ve learnt what works well for you in terms of training frequency, exercise selection, and set/rep schemes for individual exercises.
Anything from 4 – 7 days of training per week is acceptable at this level, but the more you train the more you will need to focus on ensuring your nutrition is 100% on point.
What’s more, high volume training such as this is largely unfeasible if you do not use an intra-workout drink with liquid carbs and amino acids.
Please understand that once you reach Intermediate and Advanced levels there are countless options for you to choose from, so please do not take this article to mean that you can only train with specifically prescribed volumes and frequencies.
As you make progress over the years you will begin to identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie, so pay attention to this and you will become better equipped to tailor your training setup in a way that best suits you.