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Unread 11-02-2016, 10:42 AM
Pauly Pauly is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 25
Default How to measure volume - number of sets

Over time there's been many ways of measuring volume - number of reps, total tonnage etc. when looking at the effects of volume on hypertophy (and not strength per se).

I've read a few articles recently though suggesting that, as long as each set is 'hard' (i.e. getting into RPE of 8 or more) then the total number of sets done is in fact as good a way of measuring volume as any other, whether it be moderately(*) low or quite high rep sets.

Brad Schoenfeld has done some research on this and, although I can't unfortunately place where I've read it off the top of my head, a few other respectable authors have also picked up on this.

I can see the logic in it, but am also conscious that Lyle has also previously written that this is a largely useless way of tracking volume (albeit I think this a good few years ago - probably before this research and possibly in a slightly different context that considered singles).

I can see how, as long as RPE is high enough in each set (be it a set of 5 or a set of 15), but not to complete failure, then there will be a stimulus. Mix up your rep ranges across the week and make sure you've got enough volume (Brad suggests 10 hard sets/muscle/week to maximise hypertophy) then I think you've got a solid program, regardless of reps/workout, tonnage etc.

No particular question here, but just wondering out of interest if anyone else given this much thought, or tried it out as a way of tracking volume?

(* iirc this was going down to sets of 4 or so, not necessarily singles or doubles)
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Unread 11-02-2016, 11:15 AM
semipartial semipartial is offline
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 298

I personally track the total number of reps per muscle group to decided whether I'm applying sufficient volume. Most of my workouts tend to be close to my maximum effort anyway.
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Unread 11-02-2016, 07:07 PM
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hugsaredrugs hugsaredrugs is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 410

Yeah. If you restrict the rep range you invlude sets are an ok indicator.

Reps per workout and per week makes more sense.

Weekly tonnage takes intensity into account too, so its a good indicator of the amoutn of stress from that particular excercise.

Differences pop up between each one, but when not looking at extremes theyre decently similar.

E.g. Compwre a 5x5 and 4x8
5 sets vs 4 sets
25 reps vs 32 reps
80-85% of max multiplied by 25 vs 75-80% or whatever of max multiplied by 32)

Sets are about the same, reps are considerably but not hugely higher, tonnage is pretty close to the same too (~2000% of max vs ~2500% of max which is actually a bit more than i recall, maybe my %ages are off but anyway, point is theyre all pretty close).

I think the idea that total sets only matters as long as RPE is high is stupid. It becomes less stupid if you restrict the rep range as you said.

These are all just tools. There is really no sort of true meausrement of volume.
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Unread 11-12-2016, 11:27 PM
quaddawg quaddawg is offline
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: lol
Posts: 52

Yeah sets are a better measurement. Unless you are suggesting reps within a given load range (IE 80-85% 30-60 reps) sets to failure or near it are a better measurement of volume.
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