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Volume Is Key Factor In Building Strength

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The secret to increasing strength and muscle mass may have more to do with how much training you do than how often you do it, according to a new report.

Published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2018; 32 [5], 1207–13), the study compared the effects of resistance training 3 days per week with the results of training 6 days per week. Researchers recruited 28 experienced young males to participate in the intervention, which lasted 6 weeks. Subjects completed one-repetition maximum tests for back squat, bench press and deadlift to determine strength. They also underwent pre- and poststudy body composition measures. All the men were required to discontinue any anabolic supplement use; however, they were allowed to consume whey protein and multivitamins throughout the intervention.

During the 3-day-per-week program, participants completed 4 sets of 8 repetitions of three base exercises—back squat, bench press and deadlift—each day. The rest of the program consisted of the following moves:

Day 1
Romanian deadlift

Day 2
overhead press
barbell row
triceps extension
biceps curl

Day 3

“The 6x group performed the same total work, but it was split into two sessions
(i.e., each day was split in half into 2 days),” explained study author Ryan Colquhoun, MS, CSCS, graduate teaching and research assistant for the Applied Neuromuscular Physiology Lab at Oklahoma State University.

At the end of 6 weeks, all subjects showed similar maximal strength and body composition improvements, suggesting that volume is a core factor in physical change, according to the researchers.

“I think the main takeaway from our study for personal trainers is the importance of training volume on strength and body composition changes,” said Colquhoun. “So, if a client needs six shorter sessions or three longer sessions in a week, as long as the amount of work completed is the same, they should expect similar results.”

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

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