T Nation

Volume For Strength/Power?


Why is volume needed for strength and power?

I like 5x5 workouts. I have also done workouts involving 8 sets of 2 and 8 sets of 4, etc. But, why isn't 1 set of 5 good enough or 2 sets of 2 instead of 2 sets of 8? What is important about volume?

Boris Sheiko has routines with huge volume.

But, then I read this online:


Many scientific studies demonstrate one set is almost effective as multiple sets, if not just as effective in strength and muscle hypertrophy (Starkey, Pollock, et. al. 1996). These studies have been criticized for using untrained subjects. Hass et. al. (2000) compared the effects of one set verses three sets in experienced recreational weightlifters.

Both groups significantly improved muscular fitness and body composition during the 13 week study. Interestingly, no significant differences were found between groups for any of the test variables, including muscular strength, muscular endurance, and body composition.

So, I was just curious why volume seems to produce the best strength and power results.



It's easy man. If I run to my mailbox and back I'm not really working as hard as if I ran to the end of my block and back. The body adapts to the stresses out on it. That's why 3 months from now you should be doing more "work" to continue progressing. "Work" being either in the form of more weight or more reps, hopefully both. It's generally accepted that lower reps( 1,3,5 or so) and higher weights produce more strength gains whereas higher reps (8-12+) with 'lighter' weights are better suited for hypertrophy. But your job is to find what works for YOU.

Oh, don't put much stock in these "studies" there is a study out there for everything and one could easily find one to support anything.

Don't know how far along you are in your training but keep it simple.


I would not put too much stock in that article. Unless you have read the articles he has mentioned, you are relying on his interpretation of those articles.

I myself have not read the articles in question. I will say this though, with regard to untrained vs trained subjects there indeed is a difference. As we know, untrained subjects will improve much quickly. As you become a better athlete, more 'sophisticated' techniques are required and the gains slow down.

With regards to appropriate volume, one should consider the amount of skill required to complete the lift. On one end you have the olympic lifts (clean and jerk, snatch) on the other, the seated leg extension. So in training, one must balance the volume to balance skill practice, recovery, pure muscle strength. If you look at how a sprinter trains, you don't see him do 1 all out sprint and call it a day. Instead, he devotes time to work on skill, i.e. starts, turns, etc. He also rarely does all out sprints at his competition distance while in practice. He performs multiple sets of drills, sprints at varying distances, and does these at submaximal effort.

I am a believer in the Sheiko routine. Sheiko recognizes that to be good at the squat, bench and deadlift, you must squat, bench, and deadlift, i.e. specificity. He also realized that these lifts require skill and thus in order to hone skill, you must have repetition. In generaly, the sets are high, but the repetitions are low. This helps recovery and shifts training emphasis to utilize the creatine-phosphate energy system. Also this helps prevent fatigue from disturbing technique.

So ask this question: if a sprinter, thrower, swimmers, training requires a much higher than competition training volume, why must not a strength athlete?