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Training Volume: Definition and Importance

What is Training Volume?

Training volume refers to the amount of training an athlete does. For instance, a gym-goer might track volume by counting the total sets they do across all movements. In contrast, an endurance athlete might track volume by monitoring the distance they cover in each session. As a coach, your job is to find the ideal volume for your athletes––not too little that it doesn’t pose a challenge, but not too much that it generates too much fatigue.

Ways to Measure Training Volume


The simplest way to measure training volume, particularly in the weight room, is to count the number of challenging sets an athlete does. 

Exclude warm-up sets because they are not stimulative, and tag sets like dropsets, supersets, AMRAPs, and giant sets appropriately.


A less popular option is to count the number of reps the athlete does per workout. For instance, if someone does four sets of 12 reps on the incline press, you would record 48 reps instead of the number of sets.

Volume Load

Volume load is a more detailed option, where you multiply the load by the number of reps and sets done. For example, if an athlete bench presses 225 lbs for four sets of 10 reps, their volume load would be 9000 lbs (225 * 10 * 4).


Distance is another straightforward way to measure the amount of work a trainee does and is particularly beneficial for endurance athletes. 

That said, it’s essential to track distance while accounting for other variables, such as intensity and relative effort.

Why is Training Volume Important

Training volume is crucial to track and optimize for each athlete because it’s vital in their long-term progression toward fitness goals. 

Be it muscle growth, strength, endurance, or sport-specific skills, tracking how much work an athlete does provides coaches with data to optimize workout plans for better results while controlling fatigue. 

Let’s take a gym-goer as an example. We know that training volume is integral for muscle growth and that more is typically better (up to a point). 

We also know that volume is beneficial for strength, as it allows trainees to get enough quality practice with a heavy enough load for skill development, neuromuscular efficiency, and muscle gain.

By tracking each trainee’s volume (our strength coaching platform allows you to do that effortlessly) and collecting feedback on subjective feelings of fatigue, you can tweak the volume to find the correct dose.

The athlete feels good, gets reasonably sore, and makes steady progress? ⇒ Keep volume the same

The athlete feels great and barely gets sore but isn’t making progress? ⇒ Add some volume

The athlete feels tired and sore and isn’t making good progress? ⇒ Reduce the volume

Coaching Practices to Determine the Ideal Training Volume

1. Assess the Athlete’s Current Fitness Level

Start with an assessment to better understand the person’s current work capacity, endurance, strength, and workout experience as a whole. 

You must account for the trainee’s fitness level when deciding how much volume to assign initially and how to structure microcycles.

2. Set Clear Goals

Discuss the athlete’s fitness goals to determine the best training approach. This will help you determine the ideal volume or at least give you an idea of where to begin.

For instance, if the athlete wants to build strength in the big three to compete in powerlifting, their training will revolve around highly specific movements at a high enough intensity. In this case, it would be better to start with less volume, given that each set would be more demanding.

In contrast, if a trainee primarily cares about muscle gain, individual sets wouldn’t be as fatiguing, and there would be more room for isolation exercises. Therefore, you can assign a higher training volume to start.

3. Consider Other Factors

Discuss the trainee’s lifestyle to better understand what a typical day looks like. This is important because stress levels, sleep quality, and diet influence recovery and the ability to adapt to higher training volumes.

For example, if we take two 35-year-old men with similar fitness levels and goals, these three lifestyle factors will determine each person’s ideal training volume.

If one is overworked, stressed out, sleep-deprived, and on a calorie-restricted diet, their ability to handle and recover from more volume will be impaired. 

In contrast, if the other one isn’t as stressed or overworked, gets at least seven hours of sleep per night, and is in a calorie surplus, they can do more training.

4. Monitor and Adjust

In any case, it will still boil down to experimentation. Assign the training volume you think is appropriate and monitor how the trainee responds to it. This is particularly important for more specialized techniques that involve doing a lot of volume, such as greasing the groove.


1. Is higher training volume better?

It’s beneficial when athletes can recover and adapt positively, but it may be counterproductive if it leads to too much fatigue and recovery issues.

2. Can training volume be too low?

If trainees don’t do enough training at a high enough intensity, they won’t provide an adequate stimulus to force new adaptations (e.g., muscle and strength gain).

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