Training Guide for Size: How Much Volume Should You Use?



When the temperatures start to drop at summer’s end, most people begrudgingly store their bathing suits and sun-tan lotion. For those with muscle on the mind, they know it’s the time of the year when they can focus on size and getting as big as possible. Let’s take a look at the training methodology to follow to maximize your muscle mass.

Key to Size: Know Your Volume 

Studies show that if you want to increase the size of your muscle mass, you should focus on the volume of your workouts. Volume refers to the number of exercises, sets, and repetitions that you perform each workout. The mistake that many lifters make is asking, “What is the ideal set-to-repetition range per workout?” It’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture first.

If you want to increase muscle size, the real question is, “How many total repetitions should be completed each week?” Once we have this number, then we can break everything down by workout.

For higher volume workouts, studies suggest that larger muscle groups such as the quadriceps and the back require between 90 and 120 weekly repetitions, depending on the amount of weight used. The heavier the weight you use, the fewer repetitions are required. The smaller muscle groups such as the biceps and triceps need between 50 and 70 repetitions.

Now how can we effectively reach our target repetitions for each muscle group?

Same Muscle, Two or Three Times per Week 

If you want to reach your weekly repetition goal and increase muscle size, I recommend training each muscle group two or three times per week. Sure, you can dedicate one day per week to hammering out 10 or more sets, but there are a few reasons I would suggest against this:

Proven Science: Studies show that targeting each muscle group two or three times per week with fewer sets results in greater muscle mass than once-per-week workouts that contain many sets.

Avoid Burnout: Aside from volume, the amount of intensity you bring to your workouts is important for tearing down muscle tissue and triggering hypertrophic growth. Training each muscle group two or three times per week with fewer sets allows you to maximize your intensity in each workout.

Lower Risk of Injury: Fewer sets spread out over a few workouts can help you avoid overuse injuries. What’s more, if you can avoid burnout and stay in the zone during the entire workout, this will decrease your risk for absent-minded injuries.

Which Workout Split is Best for You?

There are two ways that I would recommend splitting up your workouts to increase muscle and achieve the repetitions goal mentioned above: 

Beginners

If you have less than a year’s experience with weight training, I would recommend using full body workouts (one exercise per muscle group) three times per week. Your workout schedule would look something like this:

Monday: Full-Body Workout #1

Tuesday: Rest Day / Cardio

Wednesday: Full-Body Workout #2

Thursday: Rest Day

Friday: Full-Body Workout #3

Saturday: Rest Day / Cardio

Sunday: Rest Day

Advanced

If this isn’t your first rodeo, I would recommend using an upper body, lower body split. Each week, you’ll perform two upper body workouts and two lower body workouts. There should be two exercises per large muscle group and one exercise per smaller muscle groups in your workout.

Monday: Lower Body

Tuesday: Upper Body

Wednesday: Rest Day / Cardio

Thursday: Lower Body

Friday: Upper Body

Saturday: Rest Day / Cardio

Sunday: Rest Day

How to Breakdown Volume Per Workout 

If you choose the full-body workout routine, you’ll be exercising each muscle group three times per week. Here’s how you can break that down per workout:

Large Muscle Groups:

  • 90 to 120 weekly repetitions divided into three workouts
  • 30 to 40 repetitions per workout
  • 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions per exercise

Smaller Muscle Groups:

  • 50 to 70 repetitions divided into three workouts
  • 15 to 25 repetitions per workout
  • 2 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions

If you choose the upper, lower split workout routine, you’ll be exercising each muscle group two times per week. Here’s how you can break that down per workout:

Large Muscle Groups:

  • 90 to 120 weekly repetitions divided into two workouts
  • 45 to 60 repetitions per workout
  • 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions per exercise (two exercises per muscle group)

Smaller Muscle Groups:

  • 50 to 70 repetitions divided into three workouts
  • 25 to 35 repetitions per workout
  • 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions

Which Workout Will You Choose? 

Will you go with the full-body workout routine, training your muscles three times per week? Or are you ready for more volume per workout with the upper-lower split? If you’ve already been using a similar program, what results have you noticed? Let us know!



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