Volume is a metric that ebbs and flows over time.
Finding your optimal volume is highly nuanced, and depends on many factors. However, one of the key considerations in determining your volume is based on the type of training phase. A training phase is typically structured around a particular goal; hypertrophy, strength, competition peaking, or deload .
Let's examine each of these training phases and how your metrics might be reflected .
All of these metrics make use of features built directly in to MyStrengthBook, easily surfacing the insights covered here. In reading the information below, we must understand that a training phase can be structured in more than one way based on the periodization model. By no means are the examples below inclusive of all the different ways to train or structure training metrics or phases.
Hypertrophy training phases are usually characterized by elevated levels of volume. We must consider these higher volumes as it relates to our baseline.
Most often, we begin our training phase structuring our weekly volumes slightly below or equal to our baseline on week 1, and increase well above baseline to some degree over the weeks. If you don't know your tolerances for training above baseline, you should aim for 5-10% increases and monitor signs of fatigue and recoverability as you go.
One method of training could be to see how far above your baseline you can train and still reasonably recover in the short-medium term, for example, continuing to increase from your baseline until you can no longer recover. In this example you would keep relative intensity somewhat consistent.
Another method could be to increase your volume above your baseline by a fixed amount (e.g . 20-25%) for the entire training phase but try to accumulate that volume in 'harder' zones of intensity over the weeks. For example, perhaps you start accumulating volume in the light/medium zone 100% on week 1, then 100% medium zone on week 2, medium/heavy zone 50%/50% on week 3, and finally 100%
Strength training phases are usually characterized by moderate amounts of volume with a focus on higher average intensities.
Most often, we begin these training phases by setting our volumes somewhere in the ballpark of our baseline volume on week 1. This could be slightly below (likely within -10%), equal to, or slightly above (likely within 10%). Another key variable is intensity. Your intensities are going to be rising, so the purpose of setting your volume around baseline is to manage recoverability.
In this phase of training, average intensities would certainly exceed 75% for most people -- possibly in the 80% range. There are also opportunities throughout the week where you might have even higher intensities (higher 80% range), but the average would balance out through additional work.
Relative intensity is an important metric to monitor here as well. Most of the volume accumulated should be a mix between medium and heavy intensity zones. Any volume accumulated in zones lower than heavy likely won't contribute to increases in strength. On the contrary, you may have some max intensity zones represented if you're pushing max reps at a prescribed intensity.
Competition peaking phases are usually characterized by low amounts of volume with higher peak intensities.
Most often, these phases are initiated between 4-6 weeks before a competition. The further away from competition, moderate levels of volume are likely still maintained. However, as the weeks narrow towards the meet, you need to strategically plan decreases in volume as it relates to your baseline.
During this phase of training, the peak intensities are rising above 90% -- these are considered your 'high priority lifts' because they have the most degree of specialization. For these higher priority lifts, you want to ensure that your recoverability doesn't become an issue. Therefore, volumes are set below baseline (10% to 50% below) You can still train in the medium and heavy intensity zones (sometimes black) since fatigue is managed through lower than average volume prescriptions.
A deload can be structured as a reduction of volume or intensity, or both .
The important consideration in deciding whether volume or intensity is deloaded is whichever one was being challenged the most throughout the training cycle.
If you were pushing your volume well above your baseline, a deload would require a reduction in volume. In this example, you want to keep your intensities similar, including the relative intensity zones previously trained.
If you were keeping moderate volume levels but had higher intensities, a deload would require a reduction in intensity, and possibly relative intensity too. In this example, volume would remain similar, especially as it relates to your baseline.
Metrics, in and of themselves, aren't all that useful. They're just numbers. A given number on a given day holds little value . How a given number changes over time, how it aligns with the goals of a training cycle is where value and insights usually lie.
The next article will discuss High Risk Metrics.
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