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Making a workout plan for yourself can get overwhelming at first, as there are many variables included. How many reps to do? how many sets? how many exercises for a particular exercise? - all these questions are pretty common and should definitely cross your mind while preparing a customized workout plan. Although it is not rocket science, you just need to know the meaning and application of three principles - Volume, Intensity and Frequency.

How To Balance Volume Intensity Frequency in Weight Training To Reach Your Fitness Goals 1

This article will help you to balance these three principles and make a sustainable workout plan for yourself for the best results.

First Principle - Volume

Volume refers to the total amount of physical work done during a single workout session or throughout the training program. You can generally define volume as the product of total sets performed, total reps and the weights lifted in a workout.

Volume = Sets*Reps*Weight

For example, if today's your legs day and you are performing squats - you performed three sets with a rep range of 12, 10 and 8 and with a weight of 80 kgs, 90 kgs and 100 kgs, respectively. So, your total volume for the day for the squats would be:

Volume (Squats) = 1*12*80 + 1*10*90 = 1*8*100 = 2660 kgs

So, your total volume for the squats for the day would be 2660 kgs. You can similarly calculate the volume for every exercise and the entire workout.

Second Principle - Intensity

Intensity simple means ‘how heavy? It is measured in the term known as 1RM – One rep max. Therefore, it means how heavy you can lift one rep for a particular exercise. If you want to know how to find your 1RM, you can check out our detailed article 1RM – What Is It & How To Find Yours?

Let us say you found your 1RM for deadlifts to be 200kgs. Now, you can easily measure your intensity in terms of percentage of 1RM.

For example, you trained deadlifts in a particular session at 160 kgs, which means your intensity for the session was 80% of your 1RM.

Third Principle - Frequency

Frequency refers to the number of training sessions for a particular muscle group in a specific period, a week, a month, or even a year. For example, let's say you follow a push-pull-legs workout routine and hit the gym six times a week. It means you are targeting a particular muscle group twice a day.

How to Balance These Three in Your Workout Plan?

How To Balance Volume Intensity Frequency in Weight Training To Reach Your Fitness Goals 2

Now that you know the meaning of these three principles, the question arises how to apply them? For this, you have to categorize yourself into these three categories according to your goals and ask yourself these questions -

STRENGTH TRAINING: Is getting stronger your goal? and do you want to lift heavier weights?

HYPERTROPHY TRAINING: Is muscle building your primary goal? and do you want to improve your body composition?

ENDURANCE TRAINING: Is building stamina your primary goal, and do you want to improve your cardiovascular health?

For Strength Training

If you are someone who wants to be the strongest and stack your barbell with all the plates in the gym, then strength training should be your primary focus.

Strength is the ability to produce force against an external object. Therefore, to get stronger, you need to lift as heavy as you can on the major compound lifts. It means you will be training at lower reps, and your only goal should be to lift heavier than the previous session.

This is what a strength training session for legs day would look like-

Legs Day - Squats (5 sets *5 reps or 3 sets * 3 reps) + Leg Press (4 sets * 5-6 reps) + Leg Extensions (3 sets * 8-10 reps) + Hamstring Curls (3 sets * 8-10 reps) + Calf Raises (3 sets * 8-10 reps)

For Hypertrophy Training

Hypertrophy refers to the range where your muscles are most susceptible to being stimulated for growth. Research suggests that the sweet spot for the hypertrophy range lies between 6-15 reps. Therefore, if building lean muscle mass is your primary goal, then hitting your workout in this range could be a game-changer for you.

This is what a hypertrophy training session for chest day would look like-

Chest Day - Barbell Bench Press (4 sets * 8-12 reps) + Inclined Dumbbell Press (4 sets * 8-12 reps) + Dumbbell Flys (3 sets * 12-15 reps) Parallel Dips (3 sets * 15)

For Endurance Training

Training for endurance means you want to improve your cardiovascular health. Therefore, you need to apply the same rules of standard cardio exercises in strength training, which is training for more extended periods. This means in endurance training; your rep range would lie somewhere between 15-20 reps or go even higher.

This is what an endurance training session for full-body workout day would look like-

Full Body Workout - Machine Press (3 sets * 20 reps) + Lateral Raises (3 sets * 20 reps) Biceps Curls (3 sets * 20 reps) + Triceps Pushdowns (3 sets * 20 reps) + Goblet Squats (3 sets * 20 reps) + Lat Pulldown (3 sets * 20 reps)

The Bottom Line

Many people are obsessed with finding the best workout routine to follow on the internet. However, there is no such thing as a perfect workout plan that suits everyone. Every workout plan should be customizable and compliment your goals and current fitness levels. Make sure to check on the above mentioned three principles to customize your workout or take the help of a fitness professional to get you through it.


Krzysztofik, Wilk, Wojdała, & Gołaś. (2019). Maximizing Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Review of Advanced Resistance Training Techniques and Methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(24), 4897.

SCHOENFELD, B. J., CONTRERAS, B., KRIEGER, J., GRGIC, J., DELCASTILLO, K., BELLIARD, R., & ALTO, A. (2019). Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy but Not Strength in Trained Men. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 51(1), 94–103.

Schroeder, E. C., Franke, W. D., Sharp, R. L., & Lee, D. C. (2019). Comparative effectiveness of aerobic, resistance, and combined training on cardiovascular disease risk factors: A randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE, 14(1), e0210292.

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