These Training Variables are Key for Big Gains in the Gym

When strength training is performed on a regular basis, it becomes an important training tool to increase strength and muscle hypertrophy. For this to happen, certain training variables needs to be at appropriate levels. The following article looks at the research to determine what the training intensity and volume should be.

Training Intensity & Volume

Research from the University of Central Florida, published in Physiological Reports, tested a group of 33 active, young men, who had a strength training background. The goal was to determine the best training intensity and volume needed to increase strength and muscle hypertrophy.

The purpose of this study was to compare a moderate intensity, high-volume training program using short rest intervals to a high-intensity, lower volume plan that used longer rest intervals. Resistance-trained male subjects were tested at the start and finish of an 8-week study. Among the many outcomes tested, muscle strength, hypertrophy, and endocrine response were the main focus that the research group wanted to explore.

“It has been suggested that high volume, moderate-to-high intensity resistance exercise programs utilizing short rest intervals primarily target muscle hypertrophy with secondary strength increases (Baechle, 2008; Ratamess, 2009). Conversely, high-intensity, low-volume programs utilizing long rest intervals primarily target muscle strength increases with secondary improvements in muscle hypertrophy (Baechle, 2008; Ratamess, 2009). It has been hypothesized that muscle hypertrophy may increase substantially across a larger spectrum of intensity and volume combinations (Schroeder, 2013).”

Physiological Reports (2015)

Exercise Prescription Pinpoints Training Intensity

One group followed a high volume training plan (4 x 10–12 repetitions with ~70% of one repetition maximum (1-RM) with 1-minute rest intervals). The second group followed a high-intensity plan to prep for the study (4 x 3–5 repetitions with ~90% of 1-RM with 3-minute rest intervals). All subjects were randomly placed in one of two groups for a 2-week preparatory training period prior to the study.

4-Day Exercise Program used in the study.

First Session

Second Session

Third Session

Fourth Session

  • Back squats
  • Deadlift
  • Leg press
  • Lat pull down
  • Barbell bent-over row
  • Barbell bicep curl
  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Dumbbell fly
  • Seated shoulder press
  • Lateral dumbbell raise
  • Tricep extension
  • Barbell squat
  • Deadlift
  • Barbell lunge
  • Seated row
  • Dumbbell pullover
  • Dumbbell bicep curl
  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press
  • Incline dumbbell fly
  • Seated shoulder press
  • Lateral dumbbell raise
  • Tricep extension

Research Study Findings

Study findings determined high-intensity (3–5 RM), low-volume strength training was the best option to stimulate strength gains and muscle hypertrophy. The high-intensity group used longer rest intervals (3-minutes) in their training sessions. Subjects, in group 2, used a moderate intensity, high-volume (10–12 RM) training program with shorter rest intervals (1-minute).

As a by-product of this research, Jefit developed a new strength training protocol called 4×5 Muscle Building (4-day) which is a great follow-up to Jefit’s 5×5 Split Routine (3-day). The emphasis should be placed on training intensity in both programs. Give this science-backed, 4-day exercise program a try and let us know what you think.

Stay Strong Together

More than 10 million members have had great success using the Jefit app. Jefit comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s 1400 exercise database for all of your strength workout needs. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Stay strong with Jefit.

References

Baechle, T., R. Earle, and M. Wathen. 2008. Essentials of strength training and conditioning. 3rd ed. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.

Ratamess, N. A., B. A. Alvar, T. K. Evetoch, T. J. Housh, W. B. Kibler, W. J. Kraemer, et al. 2009. American college of sports medicine position stand. Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 41:687.

Schroeder, E. T., M. Villanueva, D. D. West, and S. M. Phillips. 2013. Are acute post-resistance exercise increases in testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1 necessary to stimulate skeletal muscle anabolism and hypertrophy? Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 45:2044–2051.

Mangine, G.T., Hoffman, J.R., Townsend, J.R., et. al. The effects of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiol Rep, 3 (8), 2015, e12472, doi: 10.14814/phy2.12472.

Michael Wood, CSCS