One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make about your workout program is how much volume you’re going to be completing on a weekly basis.
In terms of workouts, “volume” refers to the combination of how many exercises you perform, how many sets and reps of each exercise you complete, and the frequency with which you’re hitting the gym.
One big mistake that many folks make in structuring a workout program is overloading on volume when it really isn’t necessary. The truth about volume may surprise you.
How Much Is Enough?
When it comes right down to it, the total volume necessary for almost all individuals on their workout program will be around four hours per week. If you find that you need more time in the gym than this, chances are you’re not doing something right with your set-up.
Four hours per week allows for four, one-hour sessions in which you can reap both strength as well as cardiovascular benefits. This amounts to less than 2% of your total waking time, which should certainly not be too demanding for anyone’s time schedule.
If you are unable to dedicate this low amount of time to getting into the gym (or doing your home workouts if that’s your preference), you need to seriously ask yourself just how committed you are to reaching your end goal.
Low Volume Benefits
One question often comes up regarding lower volume workouts: If four hours is good, wouldn’t six or even eight be better?
The answer in a word is “No.” The problem with high volume workouts is that as the total volume increases, the intensity tends to go down. These two factors have an inverse relationship and in order to see optimal progress, intensity needs to be your focus.
Intensity can cause your metabolism to increase for hours after your workout session. Often referred to as “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC, this really promotes a faster overall rate of weight loss and muscle definition.
Additionally, lower volume workouts cause less repetitive stress on the body. That means a lower risk of injury, too.
Making the Most of Time
Once you accept the benefits of lower volume workouts, the most important thing to consider is how to make the most of the time you commit to them.
To get the most out of four hours a week, make sure that you’re choosing compound lifts over isolation movements and keep your rest periods brief. This approach will allow for the most strength development as well as metabolic enhancement, while also providing clear cardiovascular benefits.
So there you have the truth about workout volume. You really don’t have to use all your spare time in the gym to get top results. Be smart in your approach and you’ll almost certainly see a dramatic difference in no time at all.
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