Training volume is a fundamental cornerstone of training, insofar as, without sufficient understanding of…
The traditional advice within bodybuilding circles was to push the higher rep and higher volume (therefore sets also) work whilst dieting. The theory being, that you will burn more calories from this. Burn more calories and you burn more fat, right?
But the question then becomes, why are we using strength training to burn fat? Surely strength training should be used to maintain muscle and strength. Strength training breaks down the muscle. Food and sleep builds it back up. A calorie deficit breaks down the fat. Now, although high volume training will burn more calories, the difference really is inconsequential – it’s tiny. There are many superior ways of achieveing a calorie deficit, namely, lowering (not eliminating) your carbs and increasing your cardio.
80% of your fat loss success will come from your diet. Which leads me to problem numero uno:
High Volume Weight Training Is No Better For Muscle Retention
As I said just up there, the goal of strength training is to maintain muscle. There are many superior ways to achieve fat loss. Maintenance volume requirements are relatively low. Maintenance volume is lower than minimum progression volume, which is lower than maximum progression volume.
Therefore, performing high volumes is literally a waste of time. In fact, sue to your lower recovery abilities in a diet, you may actually be sacrificing muscle mass if you can’t recover. If you aren’t losing fat, then I suggest you either:
A) Do more weekly cardio
B) Cut your total calories slightly, from either carbs or fats, depending on your current macros
You Increase The Chances Of Injury
In a calorie deficit, you are not eating enough food to maintain your current bodyweight. There is anegative energy balance. You don’t have a great of energy is you keep this up for multiple weeks. Therefore, you have A LOT less energy to put towards recovery.
When you fail to recover from week to week, your ligaments and tendons accuumulate stress. If this stress surpasses a certain threshold, you will very likely get injured regardless of how good your damn form is. It’s just an inevitability of pushing the human body too far under specific circumstances.
Injuries are the ONE worst thing that can occur during training and you should do whatever you must in order to avoid them. The best way to regress for an entire calendar year is to incur a serious injury. Have fun with that! Have fun being depressed when you fail miserably with your long-term fitness goals.
You Will Not Be As Sensitive To High Volumes When You Want To Gain Muscle In A Lean Bulk
Eventually, after reading enough of my content and pursuing your long-term fat loss goals for long enough, eventually you’ll hit them. I have faith in you. But, what next? What will you do once you’ve hit them? Being a man, you’ll more than likely want to gain a bit of muscle and strength. And you know what’s required for that don’t you? Oh yes. Consistently and incrementally increasing training volumes.
Similar to the problem you face when you slash calories in a diet, where are you gonna go once your body adapts to 1200 calories? You have no hope, you fool.
It’s the same thing with training volume. In order to keep progressing you need to do more total weekly/monthly work in the gym. If the bar is already set to a really high level, how long are you going to be able to keep raising it before you burn out? Think about that.
You’re FAR better off performing lower volumes whilst dieting, then raising the volume bar when in a surplus. Not only for long-term progression purposes, but also because your body isn’t used to it. You’ll grow a lot when you start to increase the training volume (gradually) AAAAND your total caloric intake (gradually). Your body has adapted to the lower volumes and will grow a lot when you introduce the new stimulus.
This was discussed in depth in The Bulking Debate, which I suggest you check out.
High volume training in a calorie deficit is stupid. Perform maintenance volumes. This is going to be 5-8 sets per week, per muscle group. I’ve written about it in How To Build Massive Guns.