Training Frequency VS Training Volume - which is best?
When it comes to training, there are a million and one different variables we can tweak to suit our time, our needs and our goals. These variables can vary from reps, sets and rest times and also we can switch up training modalities such as pyramid sets, supersets or drop sets for example. One of the main pillars of tweaking we can look to first is training volume vs training frequency. Now that might sound a bit abstract, but by the end of this article I want you to know what it means in relation to your own training and how you can use it to help you going forward.
When starting out with training, frequency is definitely more important. You want to show up to the gym, or your training environment and turn that into a training habit. You’re separating yourself from your life, to work on yourself and you need to take the time and headspace to appreciate that. This does take time and practice. Let me tell you a story that can help put this into context for you; I have a client who has a very busy home life, and their gym is on the way back from work. I had assigned this client their programme, but they were due to start it “next week” due to having other stuff on. I said ok, that’s great, but every day this week I want you to walk to and from work, past the gym. Each time you pass it, walk in through the doors, turn around and walk out again. With this kind of behaviour it’s making a habit of going into that gym environment. That client subsequently went to the gym every day that week, twice a week. And even though it was a new environment for them when they started the following week, they sent me videos of their form for all the exercises, in the middle of the gym floor. They were so much more at ease with the gym space. And it developed the frequency habit of going to the gym. The best training programme is the one you can stick to! Any additional behaviours or habits you can add in to your life to make this training schedule easier are an added bonus.
In terms of frequency in a more advanced training setting, you need to be aware of how your body recovers and what goals you are looking to achieve. Technically overtraining is impossible PROVIDED THAT YOU SCALE YOUR TRAINING CORRECTLY WITH YOUR TIME WORKING. Some skills and movements are more intensive so require less training time, but greater intensity. And, in order to recover fully, you may need more separation between training days. Resistance training, can be completely individualised to scale. If you’re building muscle you want to be lifting weight for around the 12 rep ranger per set, and perform 3-5 sets. The weight is lighter, therefore you can recover more quickly. Training to build muscle, once the body adapts, can be fairly quick to recover from. Hence you can be in the gym 4, 5 or even 6 times a week. Whereas training for strength and power requires more weight at around the 3-6 rep range for 5-6 sets, making it far more intensive to work. Cardiovascular fitness and more sports based exercises can be done more frequently and recovery tends to be easier, but of course, everything is scalable to the biology of the individual. Frequency is better for weight loss, for example, as more movement means more calories burned making each session more efficient.
With regards to volume, think of it as the amount you want to be doing in each set. For strength and power training, as well as calisthenics, this tends to be more important. We need to be wary of the strain we but our body under. This style of training tends to have more functional movements on the calisthenics side, and more lifting specific movements on the gym based side. Reps have volume, weight (or resistance) has volume, rest has volume and TUT (Time Under Tension) has volume: all of which can be scaled accordingly. Less volume allows you to have more frequency. So it’s a case of figuring out what works best. A coach who can programme for you based on your sessions is always a good place to start. Then you can always scale up or down accordingly and the coach will tweak the programme depending on how you’re getting on.
In summary, to start with training frequency is more important to get you into the training habit. Then you can look to volume to help you build toward your goals. Frequency can also work better for different forms of training, cardiovascular work or weight loss being the prime examples. Once you start to tweak your training volume becomes more important. You can tweak and change metrics of your training and make informed decisions on how to progress going forward.
Pop over to the Gravity Fitness store to pick up any kit you need to progress your training, whether for frequency or volume. We have Skipping Ropes, Weight Vests, Kettlebells, Mace Bells, the list goes on. All sorts of kit to get your mitts on!
Feel free to hit us up on IG @gravity.fitness to ask us any questions, and we can point you in the right direction! Also we would love to see your training strategies! Tag us in some pics!