Why Volume and Intensity in Exercise Matter
In weight training, volume is the effort, including reps, while intensity is the challenge, often measured by weight. Together, they shape a solid workout plan.
Think about deadlifts. If you go from doing five reps with a 100-pound barbell to 10 reps with the same weight, that's more volume. If you stick to five reps but increase the barbell weight to 150 pounds, that's an increase in intensity. These small changes show why volume and intensity in exercise matter.
What is the strength training anatomy?
Volume is pivotal for muscle growth (hypertrophy) and endurance. It's a top method to advance and consistently achieve hypertrophy goals. To boost volume and progress, consider adding more sets or reps to your current training. Incorporating additional sets or repetitions of different exercises can lead to greater muscle growth.
Enhance muscular endurance by opting for lighter weights and higher repetitions, which not only exhaust the muscles but also boost cardiovascular endurance. Take deadlifts as an example—a higher volume challenges your heart and lungs, fostering improved cardiovascular fitness and endurance as you adapt to the increased workload.
Elevating the intensity of your training not only amplifies calorie burn but also enhances strength goals. Minimizing rest between sets maintains an elevated heart rate, resulting in increased calorie expenditure. Additionally, incorporating explosive weightlifting boosts intensity, promoting gains in strength and power.
Upgrading the weight in your lifts not only builds strength but also benefits your cardiovascular system. Lifting something heavy repeatedly demands significant effort, naturally elevating your heart rate and contributing to cardiovascular fitness.
Consider it like walking uphill compared to on flat ground. Even if the distance covered is the same (maintaining volume), uphill walking is more demanding, causing a more significant increase in your heart rate. Similarly, lifting heavier weights elevates your heart rate, enhancing cardiovascular endurance.
Why is intensity important in exercise?
Training intensity has two distinct definitions: intensity of load, indicating the weight lifted, and intensity of effort, representing how intense a set feels or how close to failure it is. Clarifying the context is crucial when discussing training intensity.
Intensity of Load
The intensity of load is determined by the weight on the bar relative to your one-rep max, with a higher percentage indicating greater intensity. For instance, lifting 90% of your one-rep max is considered very high intensity. The correlation between percentage and rep range implies that lower rep ranges with higher percentages are higher intensity than lighter rep ranges with lower percentages.
In strength sports, the intensity of load, determined by the weight on the bar, is crucial for achieving the desired training stimulus. A higher intensity of load, achieved through heavier training and lower rep ranges, results in a more potent strength-building effect.
Intensity of Effort
The intensity of effort gauges how challenging a set feels subjectively, with popular methods like the RPE scale and RIR scale offering valuable options, often chosen based on personal preference.
RIR (Reps in Reserve) quantifies how many more reps you could have completed at the end of a set, with a lower RIR indicating a higher intensity of effort. Typically, working sets range from RIR 4 to 0 while values higher than 4 are generally considered warm-ups.
RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) measures the difficulty of a set on a scale of 1 to 10, with higher ratings indicating greater intensity of effort, typically falling within an RPE of 6 to 10 for working sets.
While both RPE and RIR scales are comparable and can be interchangeable, they share the common purpose of aiding in managing training intensity, with nuanced differences between them.
What does volume mean in exercise?
Training volume measures the work performed in a given time, commonly tracked for each workout and weekly.
Volume load, also known as tonnage, is computed by multiplying Reps x Sets x Weight. For example, executing 3 sets of 10 reps with a 100 lbs bar translates to a volume load of 3,000 lbs.
This established approach to defining volume, widely used in strength sports and hypertrophy training, proves most effective for tracking prolonged performance trends in specific exercises rather than assessing overall muscle group volume. As you advance in your lifting journey, the goal is a consistent increase in weight, reps, and/or sets, leading to a gradual and steady elevation in volume load for each particular exercise.
Consistently increasing volume load is a key strategy for sustained progress and maintaining effort intensity as strength improves. It's particularly useful when lifting heavy loads below the 5-rep range, ensuring sufficient volume for progression. However, as repetitions increase, exploring alternative methods to define volume becomes more practical for accurately predicting the training stimulus.
How are fitness levels measured?
Although muscle mass is straightforward to measure, your overall fitness level hinges on various factors, including the efficiency of your heart and lungs in responding to intense physical exertion.
Typically, workout intensity is characterized as a percentage of your maximum heart rate (MHR), representing the highest number of heartbeats in one minute during vigorous exertion.
Enhance cardiovascular fitness by targeting 65% to 75% of your MHR, optimizing aerobic capacity and your body's efficiency in using oxygen to fuel workouts.
For a precise evaluation, undergo a treadmill stress test supervised by a doctor or sports physiologist, which can also determine your VO2 max, reflecting improvements in lung capacity and endurance with increased values.
Fitness levels depend on how the heart responds to an exercise's volume and intensity. Whatever the baseline of your MHR, increasing the duration and intensity of your exercise ultimately improves your overall fitness.
If exceptionally fit, training between 80% and 90% of your MHR places you in an anaerobic state, utilizing muscle glycogen for fuel instead of oxygen. This state not only enhances heart and lung function but also promotes superior muscle growth compared to aerobic exercise alone, achieved through the synergy of volume (measured by duration) and intensity (measured by pace).
Crank Up Those Weights and Run In Overdrive Mode
Whatever is your goal in the world of fitness, Baleaf is with you as you engage in different types of endurance exercises or weightlifting classes. So lift those weights and run the distance in comfort and style in any of our All Men's and All Women's collections.