Millions of lifters get training volume horribly wrong — and this can cost them a lot of gains in the long run.

Training volume is crucial in determining the results you get out of your workouts, preventing injury, imbalances, and forging the best physique possible.

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But during a time where most people struggle to defer gratification and want results NOW, they often overload their bodies with unsustainable levels of training volume and end up harming their gym progress and themselves.

Many a time I get asked “does my training program look OK to you?” by novice lifters.

And many a time I get taken aback by the amount of training volume novice lifters add to their program.

As a result, they don’t make the gains they want, spend 2-3 hours in the gym per session, suffer injuries, or constant soreness at the very least.

As an experienced lifter, I rarely do more than 2 sets for my main movements.


Because my training intensity is often unmatched and I am able to incorporate sufficient training volume into my workouts.

I don’t spend 2-3 hours in the gym and waste my time chasing suboptimal results.

Training volume is key to my success and the success to many far better lifters than myself.

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What is Training Volume?


Training volume is a simple equation of weight (lb/kg) x reps x sets.

Let’s take a favorite: the Bench Press.

Say you do 100kg for 3 sets of 10 reps to keep the math simple.

Your training volume for this exercise would be 3000kg or (100 x 3 x 10).

This is the total weight lifted.

As simple as this.

How Novice Lifters Add TOO MUCH Training Volume (and make less progress)

Many novice lifters add way too much training volume and do something like this.

Bench Press 3×10
Incline Bench Press 3×10
Dips 3×10
Decline Bench Press 3×10
Military Press 3×10
Seated DB Overhead Press 3×10
Flat DB Bench Press 3×10
Pushups 3xAMRAP
Lateral Raise 3×15
Upright Rows 3×10

This workout will leave you incredibly sore at the expense of training intensity, progressive overload, and your precious time.

In this hypothetical workout (not the worst I’ve seen), they have completed 30 total sets.

And it will be impossible to train with optimal intensity throughout.

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Assuming that you are training at a high RPE with 1-3 reps in reserve, this workout will leave you gassed by the third exercise.

Your body will be sore for several days after training.

In our article on training frequency, we stress that training with moderate volume and higher frequency is conducive to better results as natural lifters.

A better version of the same workout would be:

Bench Press 3×6-8
Incline DB Press 3×10-12
Dips 3×10-12
Cable Crossovers 4×15
DB Lateral Raise 4×12-15
Face Pulls 3×15-20

This workout is more balanced, allows for a far higher level of training intensity throughout and similar training volume throughout the session, while hitting ALL of the same muscles as the first example.

You will be able to get more out of this sample workout, lift heavier weights in the long run, and save a lot of time and unnecessary soreness.

The other commonly seen error among novice lifters is to skimp out on training volume.

When I was a young lifter, I remember seeing a guy turn up to the gym in a Real Madrid soccer jersey and perform 3 sets of strict curls and leave.

That was it.

He wasn’t a jacked guy, but this was the entirety of his workout.

Far too many people aren’t making the gains they want because their training volume is too low to stimulate growth.

To build muscle, you must break down the muscle fibers through stress and progressive overload.

Doing a couple of halfhearted sets and eating like a bird out of the gym will leave you disappointed.

If this is you, then you have to put in the effort if you want to grow.

There is no one-right-answer in the training volume you should be doing.

It is a tool that you can use to gauge whether you’re training enough to elicit growth.

Too much volume will hinder your progress and damage you psychologically.

Too little volume won’t provide you the platform to grow your muscles.

The right amount of training volume will set you apart.

The choice is yours.

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