Do You Ever Wonder If You Are Doing Too Much, Or Not Enough?
Have you ever gone to the gym while being short on time? Attempting to finish 20 Sets of chest exercises in 30 minutes when it normally takes you a whole hour to even properly complete the workout! You cut rest periods, sacrifice form and technique just to get all your sets in! But at What Cost?
There’s nothing worse than leaving the gym knowing you missed out on potential gains because you decided to rush out all programmed sets you had for the day. I have been in that same situation before. And what do you do the next day? You make up for it right? You make up all those crappy sets or missed sets on the next day! Yeah, you could do that, but you might just run into the same problems again. So what’s the smart approach to take then?
Well let me tell you, You Don’t Need to be doing 20-3o sets per muscle. Especially not all in one workout. I know you heard of stories of famous bodybuilders who stay in the gym for 5-8 hours who probably knock out way more than 20-30 sets per muscle. Yeah, I would probably be in the gym that long too if I was taking Steroids, but I’m not, and your probably aren’t either. Which is why I am here to tell you that all you need starting out as a beginner or even as an intermediate, are 10 Total Weekly Sets Per Muscle. Not convinced, well allow me to explain.
Sets (Volume) – How Much Work You Should Be Doing to Maximize Muscle Gains
In order to best support my statement of only needing 10 total weekly sets per muscle, let me reference a meta analysis published by Schoenfeld and colleagues in 2017 in which they measured the effect volume(Total Sets) had on muscle growth. They categorized levels of volume in three separate groups (< 5, 5-9, 10+ total weekly sets per muscle). They found the group that performed on average 10+ total weekly sets per muscle experienced more muscle growth than the two groups that did less total sets (Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW, 2017).
10 Total Weekly Sets Per Muscle For Optimal Growth. But Why Not More?
Yes, you Can do more than 10 total weekly sets per muscle. However, there are a few things to consider before making this change. If you are beginner, I wouldn’t recommend doing more than 10 total weekly sets. Your body is not adapted to any kind of resistance training, therefore, it doesn’t take many sets (volume) in order for you to maximize muscle growth. Why do more than 10 total weekly sets as a beginner and possibly run into issues with muscle fatigue. Also, by keeping total weekly sets at 10, it’s just one less variable to manage, thus allowing you to focus on things such as progressive tension overload (which I will discuss in future articles).
As an intermediate, you are much better at recovering from the stress you put on your body in your workouts. So you could increase past 10 sets. I recommend staying in the 10-20 total weekly set range, but this is not necessary. You must keep in mind that the more total weekly sets you do, the more fatigue your body will be. Thus, creating a situation where you can no longer lift as much weight as you once did before for an exercise in the targeted rep range. So if you are not for sure where to start out in the 10-20 set range, just start at 10 sets.
Run a training block doing only 10 total weekly sets per muscle and then run another training block where you do 15 total weekly sets per muscle. Compare the two and see what worked better for you! I personally have been running a 10-12 total weekly sets per muscle in my current training block and I have made fantastic progress doing so!
I hope after reading this article, you now understand how much work you should being doing in your workouts. If you have any questions or comments or things you would like me to cover in the future, please feel free to comment below, email me, or DM me on Instagram! If you would like to get more guidance or help reaching your fitness goals, I do offer Online Personal Training! Submit a consultation form to get started!
Schoenfeld BJ, Ogborn D, Krieger JW. Dose-response relationship between weekly resistance training volume and increases in muscle mass: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sports Sci. 2017 Jun;35(11):1073-1082. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2016.1210197. Epub 2016 Jul 19. Review. PubMed PMID: 27433992