'Supplement to Adaptation' will help you decide the best training for you by comparing training volume and intensity. Anyone can establish an effective program and the following factors will do just that. Learn more.
Every person who trains intelligently can improve.
You must decide how hard you should train to get the best results.
You cannot train hard and long at the same time, it is one or the other.
In Adaptation, Part I - The Body, I established the importance of habituating oneself to the physical stress of the same workout to stimulate changes in the body, which brings about the "training effect." In Adaptation, Part II - The Mind, I established the importance of actualizing one's mind in training to allow it to adapt to the same workout to achieve results.
Volume vs. Intensity: A Supplement to "Adaptation" concludes as a postscript to Adaptation, Parts I and II and seeks to help you decide which kind of training (volume or intensity) is right for you to get the best results.
The fact is that every person who trains intelligently can improve. Achieving results is dependent on two things:
Once you have determined what you want, you need to decide what training program can best help you attain both your immediate and long-term goals, and in particular, you must decide how much and how hard you should train to get the best results.
Click Image To Enlarge. You Need To Decide What Training Program Can Best Help You Attain Both Your Immediate And Long-Term Goals.
Comparing Volume And Intensity
For the purposes of comparing workout volume over time from an advanced fitness enthusiast's standpoint, volume can be an increase in weight lifted or an increase in sets/reps with the same weight lifted or a combination of these. Overall an advanced fitness enthusiast's workout intensity could then be calculated as the total amount of weight lifted.
Unlike volume, which is a measurement of quantity, intensity is a measurement of quality, and therefore, is a relative term. From a competitive bodybuilder's standpoint, intensity can be an increase in the number of sets/reps with heavier weight, but not going to the point of local muscle exhaustion.
However, the competitive bodybuilder may want to increase the intensity by working closer and closer to the point of local muscle exhaustion, even to the point of failure.
Overall, a competitive bodybuilder's workout intensity could be calculated as the total number of sets carried out to exhaustion and/or to failure, especially if the workout becomes terminated prior to the predetermined time of completion.
Which Do You Prefer: Volume Or Intensity?
Routines That Distinguish Themselves By Either Volume Or Intensity Or Both
In regards to the beginner and intermediate it is far better to do less rather than more in both volume and intensity. The beginner 3-day full body routine typifies volume training.
The intermediate 4-day split routine typifies both volume and intensity training, but leans more toward volume and less on intensity for the simple reason that the intermediate is learning to habituate to actualize his mind in training whereas the beginner is realizing his potential.
In regards to the advanced it is better to do more in both volume and intensity. In general, the advanced 5- to 6-day split routine typify both volume and intensity training, but leans more toward intensity rather than volume.
Unless you are a competitive bodybuilder you may lean more toward one than the other based on a personal preference. For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger and most of the bodybuilders of the 70s leaned toward volume.
Click Image To Enlarge. It Is Better To Do More In Both Volume And Intensity.
Dorian Yates of the 90s leaned toward intensity. Yates' workout consisted of one all out heavy set of few reps. At the turn of the millennium, we have Ronnie Coleman combining both bodybuilding volume and powerlifting intensity.
Today volume vs. intensity training is a mixed breed of one over the other or a combination of both. And once again, volume over intensity or vice versa is a personal preference.
Factors That Establish An Effective Training Program
Establishing a productive training program is based on experience and age. The first factor is in regards to how much, how hard, on what types of programs he has trained, and how many months or years.
The second factor is in regards to nutrition, physical, physiological, and training status (beginner, intermediate, advanced), and psychological preferences for different training styles and intensities.
Click Image To Enlarge. Establishing A Productive Training Program Is Based On Experience And Age.
Based on the factors mentioned above - if an advanced fitness enthusiast is between 40 and 60 years of age it might be better to do more in volume and less in intensity.
When one gets older one's body naturally deteriorates and becomes more fragile. For this reason it is better for an older person to adhere to volume over intensity. For example, retired Hall of Fame competitive bodybuilder Bill Pearl begins his day by training from 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM and leans toward volume rather than intensity. I know this because I trained with Bill Pearl at his home gym in Phoenix, Oregon a number of years ago.
Learning from Bill Pearl's regimen I realized that when one's body ages one must adhere to volume over intensity. Everybody's body changes in time at a different age. I noticed a decrease in my body's metabolism at the ages of 41 and 46, and since then it has been proven difficult to adhere to volume training because of what I have accustomed myself to: intensity training.
When the mind is willing but the body is weak, particularly between the ages noted above, one must first accept the change occurring in one's body, then learn to adapt to the changes, and finally, subject oneself to what works best.
Click Image To Enlarge. Everybody's Body Changes In Time At A Different Age.
A condition why the advanced fitness enthusiast should not follow the beginner 3-day full body routine is the experience of having habituated herself to intensity training. Because of this the advanced fitness enthusiast might find it extremely difficult to loosen her resolve of training hard and short (intensity) to training easy and long (volume), generally speaking.
The advanced fitness enthusiast, therefore, might find it difficult to break away from intensity training and adapt to volume training. But as the saying goes: where there is a will there is a way.
Click Image To Enlarge. The Advanced Fitness Enthusiast Might Find It Difficult To Break Away From Intensity Training And Adapt To Volume Training.
In regards to choosing how one should train and which program to adhere to is dependent on two factors already mentioned: experience and age. One's metabolism not only decreases when one gets older but also one's recuperative ability. So in the case of the aged advanced fitness enthusiast she might want to consider volume over intensity rather than staying with intensity over volume when she was younger.
The relationship between volume and intensity in achieving the best results is more complex than simple. Certainly the most logical approach to training is low volume training coupled with moderate intensity training.
One may be able to tolerate this approach without the risk of overtraining. However, the exhaustive type of high-intensity training exercise advocated by some can lead not only to fatigue and overtraining but to serious central nervous system breakdown.
Maximal-intensity training does indeed have the potential to be extremely productive, but only when used with extreme caution and in moderation.
The ancient philosophers believed that the virtuous life is lived in moderation. These philosophers did not condemn the pleasures of the body but admonished people to act in moderation because they realized the mind controls the body and gives honor to it for harmony.
So it is the same with choosing a type of training that one prefers. Choose one that you are more inclined to lean toward or are disposed toward and act temperately by taking a bit from this method and a bit from that method to seek moderation between the two for harmony.
A fit life has neither deficiency nor excess but what is moderate, and therefore, is fine and good. No single system is ideal for everyone; a few prove to be safer and more efficient than others. You must ask yourself (and answer) one of these two questions:
Which combination of volume and intensity is moderate for me to produce the best results?
Which one in excess of either volume or intensity do I incline myself towards that produces the best results?