*Please not this is a strength bias post.
Do you wave your volume workout to workout?
Wave loading your training volume is nothing new, it has been around since before lifting became popular. Strongmen of old would have heavy, light and medium days to allow them to train all out then have some recovery while also making progress on their skill in lifting (that’s what the light/medium days are for).
Plenty of people have talked about this, however I am going to give you a simple way that you can apply it to your own workouts of either 3,4 or 5 days training per week.
The days I would suggest for training are as follows for 3,4 or 5 days:
3 Day – Monday, Wednesday, Friday
4 Day – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday
5 Day – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
Here is how you cycle your volume:
Minimum weight on the bar is 80%, this is because you’re playing with the volume of your workout so you can always train heavy but not always hard as that’s what causes problems.
The last day of each week will be your all out day, so this might be 10×5 at 80%1RM. This is known as the Heavy/Hard Day because it has the most volume.
Next up is setting the Light Day, a suggestion would be to take off around 30-40% of your total volume from the Hard day, so in the example case that would be 5×5 at 80% giving you 30 reps instead of 50 at a 40% volume reduction.
Last is the Medium Day, this would be roughly 10-20% less than your Hard Day, if we went for a 20% volume reduction that would give you 40reps at 80%.
Pick two exercises. Yes, only 2. They will be your focus. Two large compound lifts will be the best option, A deadlift and press are excellent for most as is the squat and chin up
Arrange them in a super set like this:
A1 – x5 – Rest 60 Seconds
A2 – x5 – Rest 60 Seconds
Repeat until all sets done or speed/form is noticeably lost on the lifts.
Get the idea?
Here is how a 5 day week might look:
Saturday – Hard Day
Monday – Light Day
Tuesday – Medium Day
Wednesday – Medium Day
Friday – Light Day
You would still be lifting a weight over 80% of max for your chosen lifts but the cycling of volume will allow for optimal recovery and adaptation so you can add a little more weight on your hard day or push that day towards a slightly higher volume target before increase the weight. For example you may have the end target of 10×5 at 80% 1RM on Squats and OHP and only get 5×5 on your first hard day, this means you simply try and add a set of 5 each Saturday until you hit your volume target before increase the load or changing the exercise. I will leave the targets up to you.
I know I’ve suggested two moves only but on your light days you may add in some accessory work so long as it doesn’t change the workout in to a hard session as that defeats the object of this style of workout. So if you pick the DL/P as your main lifts you can put in some accessory leg work in the form of squats, lunges, chin ups and curls for example.
If you only have three days you have a Hard, Light and Medium Day. If 4 is what you can offer add in either a Light or Medium day.
People are in too much of a rush to make progress. Take your time with it. Progress in small manageable steps, cycle your volume loads each training session (not the weight, just the volume) and focus on crisp clean form.
Wave your volume and watch your progress increase.