When you are new, and your eating is on point, you can literally work your ass off at least four times a week, and you should have no problem recovering. This is where I want to discuss the concept of “smart volume”. When I say smart volume, I don’t mean doing the Filthy Fifty WOD to get yourself stronger, which is just silly. I am talking about doing high amounts of sets, with high amounts of reps under HEAVY weight. Not only will this make you stronger, it will stimulate muscle, tendon and joint strength. Volume should be the goal for all new athletes (I would argue that 4-5 years of training or less), regardless of the sport you compete in. This goes for Olympic lifters too: It can take a very long time for new Olympic lifters to hone their technique for snatch and clean & jerk, and as such, you will not be getting very strong from just doing those two lifts in your training. Instead, those two lifts can be considered your technique work, while all of the assistance work you do after (squats, presses, RDLs, high pulls) will be where you gain your main strength.
As I mentioned previously
, I find it a little ridiculous that new athletes want to know what lifters like Klokov, Shaw or Misha are currently doing with their programming, and then try to copy it. Why would you follow the same programming that a world-class athlete is currently doing, when you have ignored what they have done on their path to be world-class? You are putting the cart before the horse, and ignoring all the volume they have performed in their beginning stages. Constantly focusing on sets of 2-3 reps for a couple of sets is not going to contribute nearly as much to your strength as heavy, heavy volume will. Not only will your muscle and tendon strength increase, you will be able to better feel out the weights when performing 4-7 sets of 5 or more reps, and build confidence when you are able to muscle through lifts as you get fatigued.
This is a huge reason why I love training for Strongman: there could be close to 200 different events that a show promoter can put in a show, and as such, you have to practice to be good at everything at all times. I know that sounds dangerously close to the “constantly varied” training model, but it rings true nonetheless. Not only do you need to practice everything at all times, you need to be strongly proficient for reps, not just for singles. Our events usually boil down to 2 methods: How many times can you lift this in 60 seconds, and how far or quickly can you carry this with a 90 second time limit. Occasionally there are “last man standing” events, but those aren’t as prominent as the 2 I previously mentioned.
If you are a new lifter, and you are still following a 3×5 model for all your lifts (sometimes even doing as little as 1×5) week in and week out, you should consider adding some serious volume to your training. My training partner Matt Falk is a perfect example of this: he took his deadlift from 515 to 660 in a little over a year by deadlifting in various ways as much as 4 times a week. It really goes to show that some of the claims coming out of Westside Barbell (workouts that last longer than an hour are a waste of time, or deadlifting more than once a week will impede your deadlift progress) are not all they are cracked up to be. I promise you that adding smart volume to your programming will do nothing but benefit your lifts, muscle mass, and overall confidence under heavy weights. Try it out yourself to see how it works for you, and contact us if you want to know different ways you can implement it.
How has adding more volume changed your training progress? Let us know on Facebook.