The problem lies in identifying how much is enough and how much is too much.
Training without enough volume will not induce strength or hypertrophy gains, and on the flip-side, too much training volume can lead to CNS fatigue and jeopardized recovery times. Training volume will also vary greatly depending on whether your goals are to gain mass or strength.
Primal policy for hypertrophy is to train predominantly in the 70%-85% of your 1 rep max for sets of no less than 6 reps (primarily 6-8 rep sets).
Total number of sets will vary but you should be aiming to train around 100 solid reps per muscle group per week. I emphasize per week because of my endorsement for higher training frequencies and upper lower splits (versus marathon training sessions and body part splits). I train the same muscle groups multiple days a week so my weekly training volume of 100 reps for each muscle group is split over the course of several sessions.
Each session does not have to be equal; for example on a upper-body day where I emphasize bench press, my training volume for chest will be on the higher side and I’ll round out my 100 reps for chest in a smaller workout a few days later.
I don’t have any solid recommendations for training volume when training for strength because strength gains are largely focused on training intensity.
If I’m trying to increase my deadlift max for example, I may not even eclipse 30 reps in a training week. But I’m also predominantly training with weights greater than 85% of my 1 rep max, so my capacity to handle more training volume is diminished.
Bottom line? Focus on intensity and not volume.
Troubleshooting Training Volume
While 100 reps per muscle group per week is a solid foundation to work from, like any other approach you will need to tweak your training volume as you go based on the gains (or lack thereof) you are making.
The more experienced a lifter you are, the more adept your body will be at handling higher-training volumes. If you are not gaining size with 100 reps per week, bump those numbers up to 120 and re-evaluate your progress.
You may also need to implement more training volume depending on the body part as well. Arms and calves for example respond well to higher training volumes, whereas larger muscles (like legs) take longer to recover and don’t necessarily need more reps for growth.
For some ideas on how to implement more training volume into your programming, check out this post:
All the best,