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How Can You Tell If You're Doing Too Much Volume?

Yes yes.

I don’t know a strict, scientific definition of “overtraining”, but coming from the world of LIFTING instead of BODYBUILDING, I know for a fact that if your strength is GOING DOWN, you’re doing something wrong. No matter how great you think you look, the fact is, even doing “pumping style” bodybuilding workouts, your strength has to be going UP. If it’s going down, I would categorize that phenomena as overtraining.

I know lots of people will disagree with me, but I believe in sometimes excessive hard work. I think that the more you do, assuming you don’t stay on it FOREVER, the more progress you’ll get. I have proven that to myself and what worked for ME, at the very least. I think as long as your strength levels don’t go down and actually keep going up, you are safe in your volume and it is not “too much”.

Another indicator though, is mood. If you feel (mentally and emotionally) terrible, it probably is also overtraining.

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Been working in 7 week blocks with the last week being deload “ish”. I got 3 weeks off work with great recovery and a chance to up the volume. At the end of those three weeks, I’m still progressing, great news. However, week 4 I drove 2000 miles cross country, averaged 4-5 hours sleep, so I am backing the volume down for a week to allow my body to recoup without an unscheduled deload”. Too much volume is very personal. When I write my program on paper I see a ton of work, as I’m almost 40, other guys don’t see it the same based on where they are in their lifting career. TBH I agree with others that if you are questioning too much volume, either you’re stalling and don’t want to admit it’s too much, or you haven’t trained hard enough in your life to recognize the effects of volume. I love getting feedback from this forum, but at the end of the day only I know how much work I’m putting in and how that work is affecting me.

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The question is not that straightforward obviously, as it depends on the individual.

But my question is a bit different:
How can a natural lifter know (at a given recovery level, at a given frequency of training and with a given exercise selection) wether the volume he’s doing is too much, or, on the other hand if he’d better do more volume).

I’m an amateur bodybuilder, starting to self program according to my training preferences but, when i lay down my program I wonder wether the volume is spot on. Obviously you’re going to find it with trials and errors but even in that case i wouldn’t know what to track.

You could find some related material by searching for “autoregulation”. Coach has written a lot about it on the forums and in some articles,

https://forums.t-nation.com/search?context=topic&context_id=269770&q=%40Christian_Thibaudeau%20autoregulation&skip_context=true

While some of it isn’t necessarily articulated in a bodybuilding context but rather with regards to athletes you should be slightly more informed after reading it. There’s some tests, such as the vertical jump test and I believe even a hand squeeze (dynamometer?) apparatus mentioned (maybe that was Poliquin, or both) that’d make it a bit more objective.

Otherwise, you want to remain observant of signs of overreaching and overtraining, where reduced performance is one such indicator among others.

Also, while there are some good rules of thumbs on the number of sets intensity also matters. Do you train to failure?

Yes, at the moment I’m really on Jordan Peters/Scott Stevenson type of program.

Every set is to failure with moderate frequency - 1.5xweek - (like in DC 2-way split) and low volume (4 sets per body part per workout, of which 2 are from a big compound movement, 2 are an iso movement and on one of this 2 sets an intensity technique is used). I use an A-B push+quads - pull+hams split.

I dont’ know if writing down the routine might be useful. Jordan Peters himself said that it “looked great” but didn’t answer anymore when I asked him about volume, which i don’t know if I’d better raise a bit.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not asking you to critique the routine itself but just to give some indications on how a natural trainee can understand wether, at a given frequency, exercise selection, ability to exert effort, and ability to recover:
-he’s doing too much volume;
-he’s doing too little volume and he’d better do a bit more;
-the volume is spot on

Have you read Scott Stevenson’s Fortitude Training? The answer you seek is ostensibly there. It’s applicable regardless if you train in an FT way or not

I read it some time ago, but there’s a quite complex “perceived recovery scale”… Am I right?

I wanted a different point of view since coach CT seems to be one of the best talking about differences in training between natural and enhanced lifters

Quite simplicistically, since I’m not good at gauging other indicators, i would have said that an hypertrophy routine is

  1. good volume-wise if it allows to progress in performace for at least 6 but no longer than 10-12 weeks;
  2. you’d better try upping volume a bit: if performance keeps improving for more than 10-12 weeks, since maybe the routine is not optimal volume-wise (you can handle a bit more volume)
  3. You’d better reduce the volume of work a bit if performance drops before the 4-5 weeks landmark

Obviously for an intermediate lifter and assuming he’s pushing hard all the time, which i think is where “blasts” duration falls 99% of the times

Check chapter 3 for how to navigate volume tiers. There’s a subsection there with markers signifying overdoing it. That should help you with having things to look out for that should have you down-regulate, meanwhile underdoing things is indicated by being able to sustain a blast beyond its intended duration.

But yes, CTs opinion is always an educational read and even if it were to be the case that the two agree seeing it phrased differently might make all the difference

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well said

Dude, how many times do you intend to ask this?

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I don’t know the bigger answer, and I haven’t read any of Fortitude Training, but if I was progressing for 10-12 weeks plus, the last thing I’d do would be to change anything.

Well, that’s probably not true. I would definitely do a ton too much, eat cheeseburgers, and hurt something. But the last thing I should do would be to change anything.

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Maybe I just want to listen to coach CT’s point of view🤔 actually I don’t see anything wrong with that

I have already started following the routine and so far I like, I’ll make my personal evaluation and adjust what needs to be adjusted, and honestly I could do well with the infos i have, but I don’t see anything wrong with asking an informative perspective to the coach.

I’m desolate if this annoys you.

Nice perspective!

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I know.

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Curious, how much effort did you put in to figuring out if CT has answered this question before posting? I read the other thread (now this thread), if you can’t autoregulate follow a program aligned with your goals and the occasional (scheduled) deload so your body can recoup. If you’re deadset on self-programming then power to you: but I can’t imagine receiving much better answers than you got in the previous thread. If sleep, recovery and appetite all go down without any other obvious cause reduce the number of work sets.

Maybe you could try and reverse engineer how many prep sets/work sets per session/week are suitable in the following scenarios,

  • When not training to failure
  • When training to failure
  • When using intensity techniques

By reading more of CTs work. I did.

There’s nothing wrong with that, in and of itself, but there’s something wrong with cross-posting extremely similar threads in multiple forums which is why I merged the thread with your recent one here.

CT has talked a ton about volume and recovery for natural lifters. One of his articles was linked a few posts above. He also talked about it in:


and

and

and probably a few others.

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When i feel more tired, more stress, not waking up with a boner for few days and libido is down, i know that im doing too much

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If you ask the question if its too much, its because you never felt when its too much so maybe that mean that your fine

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Instead of looking at volume thresholds as a specific point, why not look at it as an acceptable range?

Like sometimes close enough is close enough? I understand the drive for precision and optimization, but sometimes it can become an exercise in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

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This is what they suggest over at Renaissance (the one with Mike Isreatal). They suggest finding the minimum effective volume and the maximum recovery volume and being between those. This is in regards to hypertrophy training. I am not convinced this would be a good method for strength training.