T Nation

Work Volume


I've searched Google and this forum for "work volume calculation" and "volume" and "work volume" I think now that I may have the incorrect terminology because I'm finding more people asking how to calculate muscle volume but nobody talking work volume.

I'm trying to find a simple way to represent the amount of work I have done using weights reps and sets to come to one figure for each exercise. I saw it somewhere reading one of the beginner articles but I've re traced my path and I can't see it.

I'm starting out, so I'm being very inconsistent at the moment. I know this will eventually balance out but it's going to make it hard to work out if I'm progressing or not. I'm having to change weight so I can get the reps needed for the next set (bit off more than I could chew), then blasting too many reps out (not enough weight), digging deep and pushing more than I though possible (maybe I took a longer rest than I thought) on one exercise and failing miserably on another (maybe I didn't leave it long enough).

Can you point me in the right direction?

Either terminology to search for, or a link to an article please.

Picture taken from training log: http://docs.google.com/View?id=dfp28t45_102gcpbfwck


You are over-analyzing this.

Simply go by the weight you are able to handle for each exercise in good form.

Yes, there will be days where not as strong as others, but you should be looking at the overall trend and not any one particular training session.


Ha! Thanks for replying.

I'll bear the over analyses in mind and just try to beat my last session by some small degree I suppose, even if I 'beat it' in consistency...

Thanks again.


I think it was a CT article that discussed that, but, as was pointed out to you, don't over think it. Your plan to 'beat my last session' is the best thing. Just record what you are doing and how you feel that day and you should be good to go. Also, get a clock or a watch with a second hand so you can monitor your rest times. A minute timer, gym boss or even a stop watch with a count down timer will work as well. Just pick a time you think will work for you and stay consistent.

Later on, you can decide to decrease your rest time or even increase it if/when necessary.

For now, consitency is your best bet. Keep us posted on your progress and welcome to the Nation!


I think what you're looking for is: Weight x reps x sets = total volume.

Flat BB Bench Press - 200lbs x 5reps x 5sets = 5000 lbs.

You have to do some additional adding if you use a different weight for each set.

Set 1 200 x 5reps x 1set = 1000
Set 2 210 x 4reps x 1set = 840
Set 3 220 x 3reps x 1set = 660

Total volume = 2500
Total reps = 12

To find your average weight used:

Total volume divided by the Total number of reps.

2500 / 12 = 208.33


Yes, this does appear to be what he's looking for. I just want to add that one needs to think a bit about whether this metric is really a good one for tracking progress, and in most cases, I honestly think the answer is simply no.

Take two theoretical workouts, A and B:

Workout A:
250x4 (250# for 4 reps)

Workout B:
100x10 (100# for 10 reps)

Any somewhat experienced (even TisDrew) lifter will tell you that if you can do 250x4, then 100x10 is a walk in the park, but both have the same "volume."

You should follow HK24719's advice. Track your progress by amount lifted for a number of reps.


It's a HUGE no as far as tracking progress. These total work numbers mean jack shit. Useless except for extra numbers to look at I guess.

Numbers should be tracked per bodypart. Pounds on the bar in the final top set and reps lifted. That's it.


I agree that beginners don't need to be tracking volume calculations. But I disagree that tracking volume is entirely useless for everyone.

Sheiko is even a volume based routine. It works for a lot of people.


When I say this stuff I tend to speak solely from a bodybuilding perspective unless I say otherwise. Good point about strength programs


why is the deadlift the same as the bent over row?


It's stupid until you add in the average weight calculations, then you have some meaningful figures. Most can definitely get by fine without even thinking about it though.


Just record the weight used on your last set of each exercise. Then use more weight next time..and you will get stronger, it's pretty simple.