T Nation

Too Much Volume?


Hi CT,

I follow a upper/lower split, using percentages for my work sets on all the main lifts, followed by accessory work. I add an additional arm day on the weekend, because I find using direct arm work really helps. How do I know when I am doing too much volume?

I read an article you recently wrote about overtraining. I can’t necessarily point out any of those symptoms you’ve mentioned, but I still wonder if I could be holding back any potential new muscle gains by doing too much volume.

This is what my current routine looks like

Sunday: Lower body

  • Squat (warm up sets, work sets)
  • Walking DB Lunges (3 sets of 10 reps each leg)
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts/RDL/ or Hip Thrusts (3-4 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Leg extensions with Leg curls for 3 sets of 12-15 reps
    -Seated/Standing Calve raises for 4 sets of 8-12 reps

Monday: UPPER

  • Flat Bench (warm up, work sets)
  • Lat pulldowns (4 sets of 6-12 reps)
    -Incline DB press (3-4 sets of 6-10 reps) with Pull ups
    -Incline Hammer press (3-4 sets of 8-12 reps) with Row variation
    -Pec Dec or Cable crossovers for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps with Straight Arm pulldown
  • Cable Lateral raises for 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Tuesday: OFF

Wednesday: LOWER
Deadlift (warm up, work sets)

  • Front Squats (or another Quad focused movement) (4 sets of 6-12 reps)
  • Hamstring movement (4 sets of 8-12 reps)
  • Seated/Standing Calve raises (4 sets of 8-12 reps)

Thursday: UPPER
Overhead Press (warm up, work sets) with lat pulldowns or weighted chins
-Close grip Bench or Flat DB press with DB rows (4 sets of 8-10 reps)

  • Lateral raises (3 sets of 10-12 reps)
  • Shrugs or Snatch Grip High Pull ** Possibly add Snatch Grip High Pull at the end of Deadlift workout?**

Friday: OFF

Saturday: Bicep/Tricep/Rear Delt work

  • 9-12 sets for each. 6 sets of rear delt work

Basically I just want to know if this is all too much volume overall, and if all of these movements are necessary. For example, maybe I don’t need another incline movement and back movement on the first upper body day?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



CT, any advice on this? It would be greatly appreciated man. Just want to make sure I’m not overdoing it with my training.


Please do not repost a question or remind me to answer it. I find it rude and a lack of respect. I will get to your question and will answer it, but normally I do not answer people who act like you did.


Regarding your program. It is impossible to tell if you are overtaxing your body with your program because everybody is different.

Some people have stressful jobs and a family to take care of, others live with their parents and have no stress in life.

Some have naturally high recovery capacities and can tolerate tons of volume others can’t. I’ll take two equivalent Olympic lifters as an example.Dimitry Klokov and Katsimurat Akkaev. Both trained together and competed against each other (Akkaev beating Klokov at the 2011 world championships).

Akkaev mentioned that they came in the gym at the same time and that he was finishing his workout when Klokov was finishing his warm-up! Klokov was doing about 5 exercises per session with fairly high reps for an Olympic lifter, Akkaev was doing 2 sometimes 3 exercises for sets of 1 or 2 reps. Akkaev mentioned that the coaches found that he simply could not handle the volume. Yet both men had similar results.

Giving Klokov’s program to Akkaev would have been excessive volume, for Klokov it was fine.

So I really can’t say that what you are doing is too much. It really is a matter of how you are feeling and progressing

Furthermore your program is about as far as you can be from how I train myself and training people so I have less experience analysing this type of training because I do not have as much real life experience with such and approach.


Sorry, CT. Didn’t mean any disrespect. In fact, you have all of my respect and that’s why I’m desperate for an answer, so thank you.

I’m an electrician, so I do have a fairly physical job, always on the move. I find as long as I take in enough calories, I’m fine. I do continue to get stronger as well. However, with this much volume I could be decreasing any chance of making new muscle mass gains…


For what it’s worth my experience when it comes to “Volume” stuff is if your muscles dont’ get progressively more engorged, pumped between sets, all the extra sets + exercises trashing the body part doesn’t do anyhthing.

I always look softter/deflated the day after i do such kind of training. when I did the layers or even a powerbuilding, the plazma (and myabe better recovery those days) made each set feel amazing and muscles swelling.

Nowadays I’ve done layers and don’t get the swelling, and intuitively cut down on my volume or I find 0 progress in physique.

Not sure if CT would agree with using this pumped/“feedback” during the workout to measure whether you’ve over done it…


What I find is that a high volume of work (lots of reps per set, plenty of sets) deplete muscle glycogen (which explains the flat feeling and look to the muscles) and also decrease insulin sensitivity, making it harder to replenish the burned muscle glycogen (also making the muscles look flat).

Doing a lot of volume when your muscles are in deep acidosis (muscles are burning during the set) is conductive to flat muscles because it means that you are slashing away you glycogen stores. Also many sprint coaches believe that nothing is harder to recover from than lactate training (training in which you produce a lot of lactic acid).


I do find my muscles do look flat at times. I feel like this could be my problem.


So CT, basically I should cut some of the volume out. Because I do feel as if I have that flat look at times, especially after a very high volume upper body day. I haven’t noticed any increase in size, really… Although I increased my calorie intake.

Maybe I don’t necessarily need a day on the weekend with direct arm work. I feel with all of the pulling movements I do through the week, an extra arm day doesn’t really seem to be doing me any good. I’ve noticed tendon pain in my left arm recently, so that’s a sign. I sometimes feel with the extra volume I am doing, it is only hurting any chances of me seeing increases in size and strength while minimizing fat gain; if possible.

What if I split up some arm work on both upper body days? Or maybe keep the direct arm work day, and lower the volume on some of the other days?


Well I am personally not fond of the higher reps, especially with the big movements. You are burning so much glycogen because of the rep number, no so much the number of exercises or training days.

An arm day is only useful if you have arms that are lagging behind everything else. Otherwise that training day would be better invested in something else.


Thanks again for responding, greatly appreciated.

Could I possibly cut out an exercise or lower the reps? Chest is a weak point for me. I’m 6’6" @ 235. I’m trying my best to basically bulk up without too much fat gain. My beltless deadlift is 545 1RM (haven’t tested recently since an increase in strength), my squat is 315x3 beltless, and below parallel. My OHP is fairly weak, along with my bench. Bench is 255, and OHP is 160.

I definitely want to increase my bench and OHP numbers, even my squat. Something I should consider is actually tracking my macros. That would probably make a big difference.


[quote=“Aches89, post:11, topic:214844”]
Could I possibly cut out an exercise or lower the reps? [/quote]

I would lower the reps on the big compound lifts.

You think? :wink:


Hahaha, I know, I know. I really need to start tracking. Sometimes I start, and then I get frustrated and not bother. I really need to commit to actually tracking them… But where to start… Haha


Start by eating like you normally do and note everything you eat and drink (quantities) for one week. Do not change anything. Then calculate how many calories, carbs, proteins and fat you get in every day and look at if your bodyweight has increased, decreased or stayed the same. From there you’ll have an idea of how much you need to eat to maintain, gain or lose and adjust your diet accordingly.


Awesome, CT. Thanks a lot!


Have you seen this CT? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpLvtKtanlY

Aside from entertainemnt value it’s 3 lifts but the poundage/rest pause reminds me of the density sections in layers, maybe clusters. Think something like this could be used in a training cycle for strength/physique gains (or just peaking)