T Nation

Total Workout Volume Too High?


I started working out 3 days/week with only compound lifts about 3 months ago and the results started out amazing. However, over the last month or so I’ve started to feel less into it. I’ve tried doing a deload, but it didn’t really help.
I intentionally included an exercise that hits each major movement: Vertical Push (ex. Overhead Press), Vertical Pull (ex. Chin Up), Horizontal Push (ex. Bench Press), Horizontal Pull (ex. Barbell Row), and a major leg movement (ex. Deadlift or Squat). I warmup (brief cardio and dynamic stretching) before my workout and do a warmup set before each exercise. My routine is as follows:

Fasted Training with either 10g BCAAs or 2.5g HMB (depending on bulking or cutting) RPT training for every exercise (ex. 4 reps for the 1st set, 6 reps/10% less weight for the second set, 8 reps/10% less weight for the 3rd set) 3 minutes rest after the first set, 2.5 minutes after the second set. Stop 1-2 complete reps before failure

Monday: Squat- 3 Sets (4-8 reps) Barbell Row- 3 Sets (4-8 reps) Barbell Upright Row- 3 Sets (4-8 reps) Weighted Chin Ups-3 Sets (6-10 reps) Chest-focused Dumbbell Pullovers- 3 Sets (6-10 reps) Reverse Crunches- 3 Sets (6-10 reps)
Wednesdsay: Deadlift- 3 Sets (3-7 reps) Bench Press-3 Sets (4-8 reps) Weighted Pull Ups-3 Sets (4-8 reps) Dumbbell Arnold Press-3 Sets (6-10 reps) Dumbbell Incline Bench Row-3 Sets (6-10 reps) Farmer Walks-3 Sets (10-30 steps)
Friday: Barbell Hack Squat-3 Sets (4-8 reps) Barbell Standing Overhead Press-3 Sets (4-8 reps) Cable Seated Row-3 Sets (4-8 reps) Weighted Dips- 3 Sets (6-10 reps) Cable Close Grip Pulldown-3 Sets (6-10 reps) Weighted Crunches-3 Sets (6-10 reps)

Does my total volume seem to high? I want to hit each body part 3 times/week. Any advice?


It does seem quite high. I’d simplify.

Something like this might work:

Day 1:
Squat - work up to a top set of 5-8 reps, follow with 20 total reps at 45 lbs less than your top set
Dips - 50 total reps
Dumbbell row - 50 total reps
Curls Supersetted with shrugs - 50 total reps of each

Day 2
Military press - work up to a top set of 5-8 reps, follow with 20 total reps at 25 lbs less than your top set
Romanian deadlift - 50 total reps
Lat pull-down - 50 total reps
Calves supersetted with abs- 50 total reps of each

Day 3
Barbell row - work up to a top set of 5-8 reps, follow with 20 total reps at 25 lbs less than your top set
Front squat - 50 total reps
Dumbbell bench - 50 total reps
Curls Supersetted with shrugs - 50 total reps of each

When you main lift top set reaches eight reps, add 10 lbs and start again. For all the other lifts, when you can complete the total reps in three sets add 10 lbs and start again.


Does reducing each horizontal/vertical movement exercise from 3 sets to 2 sets seem reasonable? Or would that decrease the volume too much?


I think reducing the number of exercises and sets would be very reasonable.

You’re doing a lot of exercices with no progression scheme and no logic that I can see. Basically, a lot of work that will make you tired but not necessarily make you better.

Don’t worry about rest periods, how many reps shy of failure you go or whether there is too much volume. Pick four exercises for each day that let you hit your whole body: push, pull, hinge, squat. Each day, make one of those your main lift and work up to a heavy top set. Do the other three with lighter weights to get a pump. Add weight over time. Repeat consistently. Switch exercises around every few months. Simple.


As noted above, you have lots of exercises. Congrats on knowing them all. But no structure.

Lots of articles on full body x3 a week on this site. Pick one or the above and run with it.


Thanks for all the feedback. Won’t I begin to develop imbalances if I eliminate most of my exercises? Isn’t it important to incorporate each movement pattern each workout day to have a high level of frequency for each body part per week? My primary goal is to have balances progression for each major movement.


You’re massively overthinking this.

Yes, balance is important. No, you don’t need to do every exercise you know to achieve it.

Push, pull, hinge and squat. Do one of each of these each time you train. That hits pretty much all the patterns. Add a carry if you want. Make one pattern your focus each time you train and treat the other three as assistance.

This might help in exercise selection:

  • for your focus exercise of the day, use a barbell. Why? You can use higher loads, so you can stress your body more. Think squats, front squat, incline bench bench, military press, barbell row, deadlift
  • for the other three patterns of the day split them between barbell, dumbbell, machine and bodyweight, because all four have different advantages and disadvantages. Think DB bench, DB rows, leg press, hack squat, lat pull-down, pull-ups, back raises, GHR, good morning, DB press, chest supported row, dips, T-bar rows, Smith machine work for presses and squats
  • compound over single joint exercises
  • NEVER overlook the importance of progression: you need to add weight to your daily focus exercise over time. Double progression is often a good option: start at the low end of a rep range (say 5-8) and only add weight when all your sets can be done at the high end, add 10 lbs.


Forest for the trees.

When you get on a proven program, you eliminate the need to dissect everything. You do not need to hit your bicep 4 different ways every work out.

WO 1: pull ups 10x3
WO 2: curls 4x5
WO 3: one arm dumbbell row. 3x8

Different capacity, schemes, intensity, etc will make those arms grow.

Makes sense?


Ok makes sense. I’ll focus on one main compound lift, and then have three assistance compound lifts with lower intensity. I appreciate the explanation, I guess I just need to simplify things.


Just do one of these…


MarkKO is killing it with good advice here.

The only minutia I want to add to worry of imbalance is that you don’t want to just look at it as imbalanced or not from the viewpoint of an individual training session, but over many months time.

MarkKO gave you the advice of picking a main push, pull, squat, and hinge for each week which is solid.

But one pull… should you pick a vertical or horizontal. Well, what you can do is for 12 weeks lets just pick pull ups for your main lift. Then, the next 12 weeks you could pick barbell rows.

That may not even be necessary. I know in powerlifting, many PLers always have the big 3 as their main lift and use the work afterwards to avoid imbalances.

That’s also true in 5/3/1 and many other programs have a couple to a few main exercises.

I mentioned 5/3/1 so to loosely quote Jim Wendler who is quite an accomplished lifter, coach, and writer, “Don’t major in the minors”.

If you have a little time and a little money on hand, I highly recommend one of his 5/3/1 books. I think those books are very good at helping people understand the priorities regarding lifting, athleticism, and fitness.