You’ve been diligently working out, joining group exercise classes, watching your diet, sweating your heart out, and taking all your supplements and protein shake. But for some odd reason, you realize that whilst you reached your ideal body weight, you still haven’t really buffed up or developed lean muscles, six-pack abs, or the strength and endurance needed when you crank up those weights and run a mile. The answer lies on how well you balance your volume and intensity in weight training.
What are volume and intensity?
The word “reps,” which refers to repetition, is something we commonly hear in the gym. In reality, “reps” mean volume. Volume refers to how much work you do like the number of “reps” you perform whenever you do an exercise.
Intensity, on the other hand, refers to the difficulty of an exercise in relation to the amount of weight you lift.
For example, when you do five reps of squats using a 50-pound barbell and increase your reps to ten with the same barbell weight, you have increased volume. On the other hand, when you do five reps of squats but increased the barbell weight to 100-pounds, you have increased intensity.
Volume and intensity of any exercise do not deliver similar results to your body. Here’s why.
How are volume and intensity related to your fitness goals?
Increasing the volume of any exercise helps improve your fitness and endurance levels, whereas increasing the intensity will help you buff up or develop lean muscle mass and strength. However, this is not an absolute rule. This is because any exercise you do improves your overall fitness, muscle mass, endurance, and strength at different degrees.
But the bottom line is, you can’t expect to have the endurance of Usain Bolt by just increasing the number of reps you do in any exercise. In the same way that you don’t instantly become Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson by simply increasing the intensity of your workout.
To illustrate, a higher volume when doing squats forces your heart and lungs to labor harder. As your body learns to adjust to volume changes, your cardiovascular fitness level and endurance will improve. When you do this, you will notice that your muscles may have developed a bit of bulk and cuts. However, such improvement is not enough to significantly increase muscle size.
On the flip side, when you increase the weight you carry in any exercise but keep the reps constant, you will build muscles at a much faster rate. On the downside, this action does little to improve how your heart and lungs work. You develop endurance by forcing your heart to labor harder than it is used to. As such, if you do the same number of reps, you can’t develop endurance to an intensified degree.
How can we measure volume and intensity?
Volume is measured by the number of hours and minutes you train at the highest level or the number of sets and reps you can do in any workout.
In contrast, intensity is measured by either the weight you lift or the pace whenever you do an exercise.
Let’s say you’ve finally buffed up and can now join Mr. Olympia or developed the endurance to join the Tour de France. Given those situations, you might think that you are now at the prime of your fitness level. However, our actual fitness level is dependent on a lot of factors like how well your heart and lungs can respond to an intense physical exertion.
The intensity of a workout is related to our maximum heart rate (MHR), the maximum number of heartbeats within one minute of intense exercise. Improving our cardiovascular fitness means increasing our MHR by 65% - 75%. At this level, you help improve your aerobic fitness, or your body’s ability to use oxygen to fuel your exercise.
When you increase your MHR to 80% - 90%, your body enters the anaerobic state, which means your body will now use glycogen (stored glucose) from your muscles rather than oxygen to help fuel your body for an exercise. It is at the anaerobic state that you improve not only your heart and lung function but also help increase muscle growth. It is this balance of volume (measured by duration) and intensity (measured by pace) that helps you reach the pinnacle of muscle growth and cardiovascular health.
How can we support our workouts?
We need to support our physical body whenever we workout because we exhaust it to engage in training. We can do this by taking supplements like spirulina tablets which is packed with calcium, magnesium, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B6, A, and K.
RELATED: Why The Body Needs Magnesium
Magnesium, in particular, helps improve our overall performance and increase muscle recovery. Our body may have a paucity of this mineral, so let’s help boost its presence with Spirulina Tablets.
Along with healthy eating is taking nutritional supplements that help increase your energy level, protect your overall health, and maintain good metabolism. One such supplement that’s ideal to include in our diet is spirulina tablets, which is found to help boost our metabolism and also aid in weight loss. To learn more about this amazing superfood, click here.
Elliott, D. (2020, June 13). Volume Vs. High Intensity: Which Style Of Training Is Best For Growth? Muscle & Strength. https://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/volume-vs-high-intensity-which-style-training-best-growth.html
Frothingham, S. (2020, January 24). Hypertrophy Training vs. Strength Training: Pros and Cons. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/hypertrophy-vs-strength
Rogers, Paul. (2019, November 26). How Adjusting Volume and Intensity Changes Your Training. Verywell Fit. https://www.verywellfit.com/understanding-volume-and-intensity-in-weight-training-3498252