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Thread: Increasing volume

  1. #1
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Increasing volume

    I was reading a book the other day and it's kind of a fundamental look at strength and conditioning, anyways it was describing on a basic function of the body being it's adaptation to stresses or challenges to the body. Once it adapts it will simply maintain.

    As this applies to strength training, if you do the same thing over and over again, your body will simply adapt and stop getting stronger.

    There are two ways to prevent adaptation. Changing the exercises or stresses on the body is the first and the second is to increase volume and workload.

    Obviously at Westside we are big proponents of changing the exercises but we also go through phases where the volume is highly increased.

    There are several popular programs out there right now that don't really change the exercises so that leaves you with increasing the workload.

    So my question is how do you guys evaluate and keep track of how you're increasing the workload and where do you apply that increase?


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    Super Moderator vdizenzo's Avatar
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    Are you discussing main lifts exclusively or assistance as well?


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  3. #3
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Main lifts as well as accessory.

    Some of the more popular programs out there right now I see really don't change any of the lifts at all.

    So they must really rely on the varying volume and workload for strength increases.

    I'm just curious how guys monitor that increase to make sure they are doing enough, not too much or not the same.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    Main lifts as well as accessory.

    Some of the more popular programs out there right now I see really don't change any of the lifts at all.

    So they must really rely on the varying volume and workload for strength increases.

    I'm just curious how guys monitor that increase to make sure they are doing enough, not too much or not the same.
    I wish I had a better implementation process. I change my volume each workout currently with singles, doubles and rest puase sets. I don't have a ryhme or reason though and just try to not do the same thing twice.
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    As we train conjugate the exercises are never the same however changing workload is something i need to work on. I feel that i do way more assistance for bench stuff then squat/dl stuff. After a fast paced DE squat session i have little energy to do anything but a few sets of hypers. I guess its a getting in shape thing.
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    Volume can be a double-edged sword.

    So maybe, I can expand on Travis's question.

    When do you know to add volume vs. cut back?

    You could make an argument that if you have stalled you may need more or less volume?

    What pushes you one way or the other?

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    I think points to why it's easier to change the exercise. You can only increase the volume so far until recovery becomes an issue. If you rotate exercises, then you'll recover fine.
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    Yeah, but current trends are just to focus on the basic movements. Dan Green and the Lillibridges appear to train the same exercises week in and week out.

    Coan didn't rotate exercises frequently.

    So if you have limited choices, how do you choose how to regulate volume?

  9. #9
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFabsik View Post
    Yeah, but current trends are just to focus on the basic movements. Dan Green and the Lillibridges appear to train the same exercises week in and week out.

    Coan didn't rotate exercises frequently.

    So if you have limited choices, how do you choose how to regulate volume?
    The variation in a program like you see the Lilliebridge family doing comes primary from their varying the intensity of their training. In other words, they use a peaking program followed by an "easy" phase. The peaking program involves increasing intensity (defined as a percentage of 1RM) each week as they approach a meet.

    The changing of exercises is one form of variety. The idea with the Westside version of training is that by varying exercises you can remain at or near 100% intensity at all times where a peaking program like the one used by the Lilliebridge family involves periods of much lighter loads.


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    Therefore, on a Westside Program, you can keep the overall volume fairly constant (obviously some variation based on the DE workload of the week). How do you find the ideal volume even on a relatively volume constant program?

    In Westside, the volume changes are going to primarily come from assistance work since Louie has defined the ME and DE work fairly well. So how do you know if you should do 5 exercises for 5 sets of 10 vs. 3 exercise for 2 sets of 12 vs. any other imaginable combination? Typical recommendations are 3-4 assistance exercises for 2-4 sets of 6-20 repetitions. How do you refine that?

    Also how do you know if adding volume is going to help you break through a plateau or slow you down?

    Is it as simple as, if you are feeling fresh but not making progress, then you should up the volume? (HIT camp would say up the intensity not the volume).

    If you are feeling stale and not making progress, then you should decrease the volume? (Here some may argue you need to improve your work capacity to handle more of the volume).

  11. #11
    Super Moderator vdizenzo's Avatar
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    I am keeping assistance exercises the same for a month. I am increasing either weight or reps weekly. It has been brutal. I am so happy I only have one more week until I get to switch exercises up again and start over.


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  12. #12
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFabsik View Post
    Therefore, on a Westside Program, you can keep the overall volume fairly constant (obviously some variation based on the DE workload of the week). How do you find the ideal volume even on a relatively volume constant program?

    In Westside, the volume changes are going to primarily come from assistance work since Louie has defined the ME and DE work fairly well. So how do you know if you should do 5 exercises for 5 sets of 10 vs. 3 exercise for 2 sets of 12 vs. any other imaginable combination? Typical recommendations are 3-4 assistance exercises for 2-4 sets of 6-20 repetitions. How do you refine that?

    Also how do you know if adding volume is going to help you break through a plateau or slow you down?

    Is it as simple as, if you are feeling fresh but not making progress, then you should up the volume? (HIT camp would say up the intensity not the volume).

    If you are feeling stale and not making progress, then you should decrease the volume? (Here some may argue you need to improve your work capacity to handle more of the volume).

    The question of how to overcome plateau's as a whole can get pretty broad quickly.

    But you are correct, I look at programs that are quite popular out there and you are fairly limited to increasing volume.

    Obviously there is a point of diminishing returns with the volume increase but that said I think a lot of people are far from reaching that point.

    So I'm just curious as to how guys who follow basic lift programs monitor their volume to ensure they are making progress, or as Rob suggested, how do they know when to adjust the volume?

    As far as adjusting volume on Westside, I'll be honest at the actual gym we do a lot more than 2-3 exercises and 2-3 sets, especially on ME upper and DE upper. There is just too much to get done to pile it into that small of a group.

    Because on a Westside template your accessory exercises should be tailored towards your particular weaknesses, it's difficult to come up with a hard and fast law for how it should be approached volume wise. That said, the stronger you get the more volume you are going to have to do to overcome those weaknesses.


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    Travis,
    How do you determine how much volume to hit a weak point in assistance work? Do you have a starting point?

    Say you want to address a weak upper back.
    Will you start out with 3 sets of 10 of an upper back pull (chest supported rows) on DE Upper Day and then another upper back pull of higher intensity say 3 sets of 5 of dumbbell rows?
    Then if the weights stop going up add volume? Or do you start high volume and cut back as its tougher to get out reps/add volume?

  14. #14
    Super Moderator vdizenzo's Avatar
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    I found the best way to address a weak point is to just make sure to add in work and prioritize it. I can't tell you exactly what exercises, set, and rep scheme helped me with triceps strength. However, I can tell you I added in an extra exercise per upper body training session and prioritized it.

    I would say for someone with a weak upper back, make sure to prioritize it in your training. If it were me, I'd work it right after my ME or DE bench and then do my supplemental press movement and assistance. And, or, just add in an extra day of back work.

    Over time you may see some correlations with exactly what has worked better, but until then just do more work for the weakness. As far as intensity, I think that is by feel. Whatever day you think you can do some heavier back work, do it then. The other days just keep the intensity lower and the volume up. I originally planned to have my extra assistance day of Wednesday be my higher intensity back day. However, I could not recover for max effort. I had to move that high intensity day to Friday/ME day. Be instinctive. Hope this helped.


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    Quote Originally Posted by vdizenzo View Post
    I found the best way to address a weak point is to just make sure to add in work and prioritize it. I can't tell you exactly what exercises, set, and rep scheme helped me with triceps strength. However, I can tell you I added in an extra exercise per upper body training session and prioritized it.

    I would say for someone with a weak upper back, make sure to prioritize it in your training. If it were me, I'd work it right after my ME or DE bench and then do my supplemental press movement and assistance. And, or, just add in an extra day of back work.

    Over time you may see some correlations with exactly what has worked better, but until then just do more work for the weakness. As far as intensity, I think that is by feel. Whatever day you think you can do some heavier back work, do it then. The other days just keep the intensity lower and the volume up. I originally planned to have my extra assistance day of Wednesday be my higher intensity back day. However, I could not recover for max effort. I had to move that high intensity day to Friday/ME day. Be instinctive. Hope this helped.
    How do you know when it is too much work?
    Do you cut back on anything else when you address a weakness?

  16. #16
    Super Moderator vdizenzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFabsik View Post
    How do you know when it is too much work?
    Do you cut back on anything else when you address a weakness?
    I know when it is too much work when I start feeling injured. I am just starting to experience that with my left biceps with direct training and back work. I adjusted volume and exercises tonight to address it. No, I do not cut back. I prioritize a weakness. If my back was weak I would follow ME and DE bench with back first, before triceps, delts, etc.

    Although it seems you don't have to train back for a good raw bench
    Last edited by vdizenzo; 01-24-2014 at 09:14 PM.


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    Become Unbreakable Mark!'s Avatar
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    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFabsik View Post
    How do you know when it is too much work?
    Do you cut back on anything else when you address a weakness?
    You know when you stagnate, if joint etc. issue start to appear, and you can also gauge somewhat by how you feel. Do you feel exhausted more often than you should (assuming proper sleep etc.)?


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    Quote Originally Posted by chris mason View Post
    You know when you stagnate, if joint etc. issue start to appear, and you can also gauge somewhat by how you feel. Do you feel exhausted more often than you should (assuming proper sleep etc.)?
    So stagnation with either fatigue, chronic soreness or mild signs of injury/breakdown indicates too much volume.

    And stagnation without fatigue, joint pain etc. would suggest not enough volume assuming all other factors of a program are fairly constant.

    So if my squat is stuck, but I'm still feeling pretty fresh each time I go into a session, some added volume might be the answer.

    Whereas, if I go to squat, my ass is dragging, I'm struggling with the assistance work, then I'm near my volume limit?

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