T Nation

Destroyed by High Volume

After training pretty minimally for about a year; lifting only big lifts for less than 5 reps, I’ve found that I can’t tolerate much volume in my training anymore. I squatted 405 not long ago, but doing 265 for 5x5 will destroy me. A high volume workout often leaves me in a zombie state for a few days. Is this a normal symptom of training with strictly high intensity for so long? And is it in my best interest to push the amount of volume I can handle? Is volume meant to be the most important factor in determining recovery required?

[quote]johnliamten wrote:
After training pretty minimally for about a year; lifting only big lifts for less than 5 reps, I’ve found that I can’t tolerate much volume in my training anymore. I squatted 405 not long ago, but doing 265 for 5x5 will destroy me. A high volume workout often leaves me in a zombie state for a few days. Is this a normal symptom of training with strictly high intensity for so long? And is it in my best interest to push the amount of volume I can handle? Is volume meant to be the most important factor in determining recovery required?[/quote]

Your GPP sucks. Pretty badly. After every workout, do some kind of conditioning.

Nothing to do but build your volume back up slowly…Train more frequently with lower percentages done in ones - fives for LOTS of sets. If you’re not lifting five days a week, do GPP work or conditioning on your days off.

Funny timing of your post though. I was just thinking about how some people seem to handle intensity really well and some seem to handle volume really well. I’m on the volume end, and I’ve noticed that doing programs where you try to push PRs doesn’t really work well for me. I’ve always seen better results doing a regiment where I do squat/bench 2+ times a week and balance intensity with lots of volume.

If you squatted 400, you should be able to do 8-10 60 yard walks with 300 pounds in a wheelbarrow in 10 minutes. That boosted my conditioning faster than anything else.

[quote]Sutebun wrote:
Funny timing of your post though. I was just thinking about how some people seem to handle intensity really well and some seem to handle volume really well. I’m on the volume end, and I’ve noticed that doing programs where you try to push PRs doesn’t really work well for me. I’ve always seen better results doing a regiment where I do squat/bench 2+ times a week and balance intensity with lots of volume.
[/quote]
That’s a good observation. I’m just the opposite of you (for squatting, at least). I can handle squatting to 90-100% multiple times a week and recovery won’t be an issue, but as soon as I start doing sets of 5 twice a week, it is hard as hell for me to recover. Also, as soon as I go from sets of 5 (or even 3) down to singles, my max shoots up. The past few weeks is a good example. My best all-out 3 RM from just a couple weeks ago ended up being about 86% of my current 1 RM. Dafuq?

OP, I had a similar problem recently. Squatting even 70% for 5x5 had me gassed, but by slowly working up with sets of 5, I was able to squat 50 pounds more than that for 5. My GPP still sucks and I hate repping out squats, but I’m at least better than I was before.

[quote]OmniStyx wrote:

[quote]Sutebun wrote:
Funny timing of your post though. I was just thinking about how some people seem to handle intensity really well and some seem to handle volume really well. I’m on the volume end, and I’ve noticed that doing programs where you try to push PRs doesn’t really work well for me. I’ve always seen better results doing a regiment where I do squat/bench 2+ times a week and balance intensity with lots of volume.
[/quote]
That’s a good observation. I’m just the opposite of you (for squatting, at least). I can handle squatting to 90-100% multiple times a week and recovery won’t be an issue, but as soon as I start doing sets of 5 twice a week, it is hard as hell for me to recover. Also, as soon as I go from sets of 5 (or even 3) down to singles, my max shoots up. The past few weeks is a good example. My best all-out 3 RM from just a couple weeks ago ended up being about 86% of my current 1 RM. Dafuq?

OP, I had a similar problem recently. Squatting even 70% for 5x5 had me gassed, but by slowly working up with sets of 5, I was able to squat 50 pounds more than that for 5. My GPP still sucks and I hate repping out squats, but I’m at least better than I was before.[/quote]

I think that 70% for 5 x 5 is pretty normal. For strength I typically do about 15 total reps at 80%, and 24-25 at 70%. 80% is about a 7 rep max for me. 70% about 12, so if I did 5 x 3 at 80% or 5 x 5 at 70% I’d be basically slightly under HALF my rep max per set. I would want to complete those within about 10 minutes though.

Also in the squat you have 3/4 of your bodyweight to raise too.

For the initial poster with a 400 max doing 265, on paper that’s about 65%, but if he weighs 200 and is moving about 150 pounds of that upward, his max load is more like 550 and his sets are at 415 which is 75%.

Another thing is that with a max of 400 and lifting heavy, isn’t it a good thing to have a max that outdoes your reps? I’d rather squat 400 and be able to do just 250 for 5 x 5 than do 280 5 x 5 and squat 365.

also going back to light weights is not necessarily an issue of endurance. It may be more inefficiency, not getting a full reflex out of the bottom and therefore draining more energy on the way up.

Awesome insight, thanks.

I found something close to this when I first tried Wendler’s program. I had been working singles on almost everything for over 3 years and when I tried to plug in the %'s not only was my rep count way lower I felt gassed. Obviously specificity has something to do with it. My first ever program was a 20-rep squat one and I got up to 255 x 21 at about 170lbs (having started with 95lbs at a bdy wt of 140lbs) but then I just burned out and discovered I like doing singles, a little bit because of the fear factor. So yeah–GPP could be a large part of it.

But also I think I’m a terrible repper. My best raw touch-n-go bench was 297.5lbs. I could do 3 reps at 250lbs and 1 rep only for 255lbs all the way up to my max. Seemed very strange and so odd that it has to be something more than just SAID for low reps. Always been curious about this.

[quote]pulphero wrote:
I found something close to this when I first tried Wendler’s program. I had been working singles on almost everything for over 3 years and when I tried to plug in the %'s not only was my rep count way lower I felt gassed. Obviously specificity has something to do with it. My first ever program was a 20-rep squat one and I got up to 255 x 21 at about 170lbs (having started with 95lbs at a bdy wt of 140lbs) but then I just burned out and discovered I like doing singles, a little bit because of the fear factor. So yeah–GPP could be a large part of it.

But also I think I’m a terrible repper. My best raw touch-n-go bench was 297.5lbs. I could do 3 reps at 250lbs and 1 rep only for 255lbs all the way up to my max. Seemed very strange and so odd that it has to be something more than just SAID for low reps. Always been curious about this.[/quote]

In the bench I could always do almost exactly 10% more for a single than a triple-it was really my gauge. Also if I could get a weight for 5 x 3 within 10 minutes I could amost exactly max 20% more than that. These are all touch and go.

I’ve found the one I’m good at is the one I focus on more and I get the best strength gains when I focus on a variety of rep ranges throughout my cycles including heavy 95% singles to sets of 20-30 earlier on for muscle endurance and work capacity and joint recovery.

[quote]johnliamten wrote:
After training pretty minimally for about a year; lifting only big lifts for less than 5 reps, I’ve found that I can’t tolerate much volume in my training anymore. I squatted 405 not long ago, but doing 265 for 5x5 will destroy me. A high volume workout often leaves me in a zombie state for a few days. Is this a normal symptom of training with strictly high intensity for so long? And is it in my best interest to push the amount of volume I can handle? Is volume meant to be the most important factor in determining recovery required?[/quote]

In addition to what Nik said about your GPP…yes, that is very normal for somebody training such low volume for so long. Very normal.

And yes, it is very much in your best interest to become able to handle more volume, so push that (within reason). It may be a long battle given your starting state but it is definitely in your best interests (as a side note, I never thought I could handle anywhere near the volume CT prescribes in a lot of his old stuff, or new stuff for that matter, but I found over the years that was not really true. It was just that I was unprepared and deconditioned, and my GPP sucked something awful back then).

Not sure what you mean by your last sentence about volume meant to be the most important factor in determining recovery required…could you rephrase perhaps?

Volume is very necessary–it makes your strength gains less volatile to breaks in training. More “permanent” if you will, kinda like getting a new set point in body weight or composition lets you get back to that state easier every time.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]OmniStyx wrote:

[quote]Sutebun wrote:
Funny timing of your post though. I was just thinking about how some people seem to handle intensity really well and some seem to handle volume really well. I’m on the volume end, and I’ve noticed that doing programs where you try to push PRs doesn’t really work well for me. I’ve always seen better results doing a regiment where I do squat/bench 2+ times a week and balance intensity with lots of volume.
[/quote]
That’s a good observation. I’m just the opposite of you (for squatting, at least). I can handle squatting to 90-100% multiple times a week and recovery won’t be an issue, but as soon as I start doing sets of 5 twice a week, it is hard as hell for me to recover. Also, as soon as I go from sets of 5 (or even 3) down to singles, my max shoots up. The past few weeks is a good example. My best all-out 3 RM from just a couple weeks ago ended up being about 86% of my current 1 RM. Dafuq?

OP, I had a similar problem recently. Squatting even 70% for 5x5 had me gassed, but by slowly working up with sets of 5, I was able to squat 50 pounds more than that for 5. My GPP still sucks and I hate repping out squats, but I’m at least better than I was before.[/quote]

I think that 70% for 5 x 5 is pretty normal. For strength I typically do about 15 total reps at 80%, and 24-25 at 70%. 80% is about a 7 rep max for me. 70% about 12, so if I did 5 x 3 at 80% or 5 x 5 at 70% I’d be basically slightly under HALF my rep max per set. I would want to complete those within about 10 minutes though.

Also in the squat you have 3/4 of your bodyweight to raise too.

For the initial poster with a 400 max doing 265, on paper that’s about 65%, but if he weighs 200 and is moving about 150 pounds of that upward, his max load is more like 550 and his sets are at 415 which is 75%. [/quote]
You made very good points! (As usual). I usually don’t bother with percentages so I based what I was able to do on what I’ve seen in programs like 5/3/1 that do use them. I was considering the fact that for BBB the percentages used typically go up to 70% for set(s) of 10. Granted, that would be a difficult 10 reps, but I didn’t think doing sets of 5 at that weight would be too much of a problem. Taking into account my body weight (which is pretty high compared to my squat) it came out to just under 80%, which makes much more sense.

OP, why not keep doing the big lifts at a very high intensity, but finish your workouts with some volume?

If your maxes are still going up, who really cares – what you’re doing is working. But I’m guessing if you hit the same muscle groups for some Rep work at the end of your current workouts, you’ll see some great hypertrophy gains and your maxes will go up even faster. But don’t give up the high intensity work either, that should still be first and foremost.

Agreed with what others say about a little conditioning too. Farmer’s walks and prowler pulls (if you have access to a prowler or something similar) are a great way to finish off a workout and can be done in 5-10 mins.