I read the article from T Nation about volume for strength and size and was curious about a realistic rate of progression, or if there was a minimal amount of volume that should be achieved per week. I know the article says to try to maintain a constant upward flow, but I was just curious if there is a volume that is too low that it has no effect on progressing?
I think the minimum volume is about 30 reps a week for one exercise to make any progress. As a rule of the thumb: more volume for muscle growth. More frequency for strenght. When your goal is strength the frequency is far more important imo. At a volume of about 200 reps a week for one exercise/range my gains are the highest for muscle growth. Going over that amount of volume is too much for me.
The text book answer: 60-120 reps per week for major muscle groups and 30-60 reps per week for the smaller ones.
The real-world answer: It varies from person to person.
I’m not sure about the high end but I definitely think there’s a low end. Volume is also largely dependent on intensity. I’m not sure it would be a good idea to bust out 60 reps at 95% of your 1RM in a week.
I typically develop my programs around 30 reps per exercise:
3 x 10
5 x 5
3 x 8
4 x 6
The combinations aren’t all that important but I like to get close to 30 reps. That’s more from a hypertrophy perspective. When training for strength I still like to get close to 30 reps but it depends on which approach I’m taking for the day. Some days I’ll shoot for 20-30 reps at 80-87% of my 1RM. But on days where I keep increasing the load and working up to a heavy single I don’t worry so much about reps. On those days it’s more about moving heavy weight, possibly even a PR.
As you can see, there’s no “one size fits all” approach. Just remember that volume is inversely proportional to intensity. As intensity increases, volume decreases. I promise that if you try to maintain a high volume at a high intensity that you will burn out (CNS fatigue) or get injured.