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Quantifying Workloads in Resistance Training:


A Brief Review

Article · January 2010

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Quantifying Workloads in
Resistance Training: A
Brief Review
G. Gregory Haff, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.*D, ASCC, FNSCA

Summary
The ability to quantify training loads and volumes is of particular
importance when working with periodised training plans. The ability to
plan and monitor resistance training loads allows the strength and
conditioning professional the ability to modulate training stressors and
better manage fatigue which ultimately leads to a greater potential that
performance is optimized. In order to better understand the methods
available for monitoring resistance training variables, the present review is
designed to explore the various methods for quantifying training volumes
and intensities used in the design and monitoring of resistance training
programs.

Introduction
Dr. Greg Haff is an associate When designing and implementing a periodised training plan the ability to
professor in the Division of manage training stressors is an influential factor in determining the overall
effectiveness of the training interventions.3,29 Through the modulation of
Exercise Physiology at the West
training stressors, a periodised training plan can enhance the recovery
Virginia University School of adaptation process which will result in a dissipation of fatigue in concert
Medicine. He has published with an elevation of preparedness, and ultimately, performance capacity at
numerous research articles on predetermined time points. The accomplishment of these goals is
sport science related topics and dependent on the ability of the coach to estimate and evaluate the
has been recognised by the workloads accomplished in the various aspects of the training plan. This
National Strength and Conditioning ability allows the coach to appropriately sequence and integrate all of the
Association as the Young athlete’s training stressors. If these factors are not considered and/or
Investigator of the Year in 2001. In monitored, the likelihood that the training programme will result in less
than optimal results will increase markedly.
2008 Dr. Haff received the
Distinguished Teaching Faculty Depending upon the sport, there are several distinct components of the
training plan including technical, tactical, metabolic conditioning, sprint
Award at the West Virginia
agility, endurance and resistance training. The ability to estimate or
University School of Medicine. Dr.
directly calculate the training loads of each of these training factors allows
Haff has served as a strength and for a better understanding of the workload encountered by the athlete and
conditioning consultant for Team can give keen insight into the fatigue factors generated by the training
Arrow a Collegiate Cycling Team, plan. Of particular importance is the ability to estimate the amount of
Canadian Track Cycling champion work that the athlete completes during the resistance training component
Mark Ernsting, and several other of the overall training plan.19 Generally, the volume of resistance training
national and international level performed is considered to be indicative of the work performed and
athletes. Dr. Haff is a Fellow of The proportional to the caloric expenditure that is accomplished in the training
session, day or training cycle. Mathematically, the amount of mechanical
NSCA, a former NSCA board
work accomplished can be calculated by multiplying the force by the
member, a Regional Level
displacement during the resistance training exercise performed. For
Weightlifting Coach, and a Level 3 example, if an athlete were to perform 5 repetitions of the back squat
Cycling Coach. with 150 kg and were to move through a vertical distance of 0.6 m, the
work accomplished would be calculated with the following equation:
Work = weight (kg) x vertical displacement (m) x number of repetitions
Work = 150 kg x 0.6 m x 5 = 450 kg·m-1 = 4413.0 J = 1.051 kcal
In this example, the athlete would have accomplished 450 kg·m-1 or
4413.0 J of work during the performance of this exercise. When this
information is determined for an exercise or training session, it allows the
strength and conditioning professional to gain an understanding about the
amount of work or caloric expenditure accomplished.27 Generally, it is
impractical and virtually impossible to measure the displacement
accomplished for each repetition of every exercise undertaken in a

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resistance training programme. However, the ability to Therefore, it is generally accepted that while the repetition
directly estimate or quantify workloads in the method is very simple to calculate, it offers a poor
resistance training environment appears to be on the estimate of the amount of work or volume of training
horizon. Emerging technologies such as accelerometers completed in a resistance training bout or training
and linear position transducers may offer a mechanism programme.3,27 Even though this method is a poor method
for directly quantifying the work accomplished by for estimating or quantifying the training volume and
allowing for the assessment of vertical displacements, workload, it has continued to be used by several
which can then be used in conjunction with the training researchers who are exploring various resistance training
load and volumes to create a more reasonable models24,25 and practitioners who work directly with
estimate of workload and potentially caloric athletes. A more accurate approach would be to either
expenditure. directly quantify work accomplished,19 or use estimates
While a direct assessment or calculation of work gives which account for the actual weight lifted by the athlete27
valuable information to the strength and conditioning when attempting to either quantify or equate training
professional at this time, it may be impractical to loads when comparing various training interventions.
directly calculate it, especially when working with large Volume Load: In an attempt to better estimate the
groups of athletes. Therefore, the primary purpose of workload that is encountered in a resistance training
this brief review is to explore the various methods for setting, the volume load is generally calculated.3,19,27,30
estimating the training volume and intensity in This estimate of workload expands upon the repetition
resistance training. These methods may be used as method for determining volume or workload by
part of the training programme design process or the accounting for the weight lifted during the resistance
athlete monitoring process in order to give the strength training exercise or session.
and conditioning professional or sports scientist Typically the volume of training is reported as a metric
information about the resistance training stressors ton,1,3,9 a short ton,2 or the volume load.3,27 Where
encountered by the athlete. This may in turn allow for volume load is reported as a kilogramme value, while a
a better management of fatigue, which can increase metric ton is equivalent to 1,000 kg and a short ton is
the potential for optimising performance at predictable 1,102.3 kg. To calculate either the metric ton or short
pre-determined time points. ton, one must first calculate the volume load and then
divide by either 1000kg to get a metric ton or 1,102.3
Methods for Estimating Training to get a short ton (Table 1).
Volume In order to calculate the volume load there are two
distinct methods which can be performed, one equation
When examining the periodisation literature, there are
which utilises the absolute load lifted and one equation
three main methods that can be used for the
which utilises the percentage of 1-repetiton maximum
estimation of training volume in resistance training:
(% 1-RM).3,9 The first equation for calculating the
1) determination of total repetitions completed10, volume load is accomplished by multiplying the number
2) calculation of the volume load3,9,27, and of repetitions completed in an exercise by the actual
3) calculation of the volume index.1 resistance encountered. This equation can be
Repetition Method: The most basic method for represented as the following:
quantifying the volume of resistance training and Equation 1: Volume load (kg) = number of sets x
estimating the work accomplished, is the calculation of number of repetitions x weight lifted (kg)
the total repetitions that have been completed in an If, for example, an individual were to perform 3 sets of
exercise, during a training session or training cycle. 10 repetitions in the back squat at 150 kg, the
Based upon this method of determining work, 3 sets of calculation would be performed with Equation 1 as
10 repetitions would result in the same amount of total follows:
repetitions as 10 sets of 3 repetitions. While both
loading paradigms result in 30 total repetitions, the Volume load (kg) = 3 x 10 x 150 kg = 4500 kg
two protocols would actually result in vastly different The second equation for calculating the volume load is
amounts of total work or physiological stress. This accomplished by multiplying the number of repetitions
contention is supported by a recent study by McCaulley by the percentage of 1-RM.9 This equation is
et al.20 in which various repetitions and set schemes represented as the following:
had their mechanical work equated in order to quantify Equation 2: Volume load (kg) = number of sets x
the physiological responses to each loading structure. number of repetitions x %1RM
In order to equate the mechanical work accomplished Another way of looking at this equation would be to
with 4 sets of 10 repetitions performed at 75% of 1 consider the percentage as a factor of 100 kg. For
repetition maximum (1-RM) (work = 84.2 ± 8.5 J x 10- example, if the athlete were to lift at 67% of their
3
), a total of 11 sets of 3 repetitions were performed at maximal capacity, the %1RM number would be
90% of 1-RM (work = 84.2 ± 19.7 J x 10-3). Careful represented as 67 kg. Therefore, if the same individual
inspection of this data reveals that one loading as presented above performed the back squat for 3
structure resulted in 40 total repetitions, while the sets of 10 repetitions at 150 kg and this load
other resulted in 33 repetitions even though both represented 67% of their 1-RM, the calculation would
structures resulted in similar work outputs. be performed with Equation 2 as follows:
Additionally, each protocol resulted in vastly different
Volume Load (kg) = 3 x 10 x 67 = 2010 kg
hormonal profiles, suggesting that even though the
volume of work was equated, the physiological stress Once this factor is calculated, it can then be quantified
encountered was very different. The differentiating in terms of the actual maximum capacity for the
factor appears to be the load encountered, thus the exercise. For example if the athlete’s maximum back
best estimate of volume or workload must consider the squat is 200 kg then the individualised volume load
amount of weight lifted and not simply rely on the total would be calculated as follows:
repetitions completed. Volume Load (kg) = 3 x 10 x (200 x 0.67) = 4020 kg

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Table 1: Methods of Volume Conversions
Exercise Sets Repetitions Load Volume Load Metric Ton Short Ton
(kg) (kg)
Power Snatch 3 5 100 1500 1.500 1.367
Snatch Pull (from floor) 3 5 120 1800 1.800 1.633
Snatch Pull (from knee) 3 5 130 1815 1.815 1.647
Snatch Grip RDL 3 5 90 1350 1.350 1.225
Training day totals= 6465 6.465 5.865
Note: to get metric ton divides the volume load by 1000. To get the short ton divide the volume load by 1102.3.

Table 2. Comparison of the methods for calculating training intensity.


Volume Load Calculation Volume Index **
Exercise Sets Repetitions Load % Total Equation 1 Equation 2 Equation 4 Equation 5
(kg) 1RM Repetitions (kg) (kg)
Back Squat 3 10 150 67 30 4500 2010 45 205.7
¼ Back Squat 3 10 180 60 30 5400 1800 54 246.8
1-Leg Squat 3 10 50 22* 30 1500 660 15 68.6
Behind Neck Press 3 10 60 50 30 3000 1500 18 82.3
Training day totals= 120 14400 5970 132 603.4
Note: *= the 1-leg squat was calculated as a percent of the 1-RM back squat. Based upon a 1-RM back squat of 225 kg and the athlete weighs
100 kg
** = note the volume index calculations are based off of the volume load calculated with equation 1.
Equation 1: sets x repetitions x load (kg)
Equation 2: sets x repetitions x %1RM
Equation 4:sets x repetitions x load/body mass (kg)
Equation 5:sets x repetitions x load/body mass (kg)0.67

Another approach would be to calculate the a potential error in the estimation of workloads
individualised volume load by multiplying the estimate completed during a resistance training bout. It is
calculated with Equation 2 by a factor of 2. This factor possible that there could be an under or overestimation
is selected because the maximum capacity in the lift is of workload depending upon the exercise being
2 times greater than the 100 kg factor used in the performed.5,30 For example, when looking at Table 2,
estimation. the back squat resulted in a volume load of 4500 kg
When comparing the two volume load equation, it is (Equation 1), while the ¼ back squat resulted in 5400
important to note that they results in very different kg (Equation 1). Clearly the ¼ squat required the
estimates of workload (Table 2). For example, when movement of a larger load and thus this accounted for
examining Table 2, it is clear that method 2 the higher volume load estimate. However, this is likely
consistently results in lower volume load estimates an overestimation of the work performed because the
when compared to method 1 if it is not modified in the distance traveled is significantly less in a ¼ squat than
context of the maximum capacity. This poses a in a full back squat. Typically the ¼ squat is performed
significant issue if the method for calculating volume by lifting the barbell from blocks which decreases the
distance the barbell travels when compared to a full
load is not specifically addressed in the methods of
squat. In this instance, Equation 2 for calculating
research articles or reviews of literature on training.
volume load may be a better method of estimating
Therefore, it is imperative that the method for
workload because the percentage of 1-RM is relative to
calculating volume load is clearly outlined. It may be
the lift being performed. For example, the back squat
useful to use method 2 as a planning tool when writing
would have a volume load of 2010 kg, while the ¼
a training plan because it allows one to work with
squat would result a volume load of 1800 kg. While
percentages9 and then use method 1 as a monitoring
method 2 creates a value that better represents the
tool to see what the athlete actually accomplished.3
workload because it is tied to the 1-RM of each
Even though the calculation of volume load does not exercise, it is limited because it most likely
typically include a measure of distance traveled during underestimates the actual workload performed. Ideally,
the exercise it should be considered a reasonable it would be best if the actual distance traveled during
estimate of workload.27 Support for this contention can each exercise was quantified and yielding a more
be found in the work of McBride et al.19 where various accurate method of estimating workload.
methods of determining the volume of resistance Because the volume load is significantly affected by the
training were assessed and the volume load equation distance the bar travels it may be warranted to re-write
(Equation 1) resulted in a reasonable estimate of work. the volume equation to the following:
It is important to note that when comparing the
Equation 3: Volume load (kg·m-1) = sets x repetitions x
volume load of an exercise to a direct calculation of
load (kg) x distance (m)
work performed that the distance the barbell travels
will significantly impact the amount of work performed. If the distance traveled by the barbell were determined
As a result, the volume load estimate may result in an for each exercise the athlete performs, this volume
underestimation or overestimation of the workload load equation would give a better depiction of the
accomplished depending upon the exercise performed. overall training loads encountered.
The fact that the distance the bar travels is not Bosoc4,6 suggests that the ultimate quantification of
considered in either volume load calculation can create training loads would require the direct monitoring of

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the dynamics of the lifting task including displacement, research studies, as well as example training
force, velocity, and power characteristics. There are programmes, should at least report the basic volume
several methods that can be used in this task including load estimate as it is still a better representation than
the use of the V-Scope,13,15 force plate-linear position only reporting the number of repetitions performed.
transducer systems,7,20 video analysis12,26 and potentially This practice should be encouraged because it gives a
accelerometers. Many of these devices, such as the more accurate picture of what is planned for or has
force-plate linear position transducer and video been accomplished in the training session.
analysis systems are used in research settings but Volume Index: When looking at the volume load
have not typically been used in the applied settings of estimate of work, it does not account for the athlete’s
coaching because of their cost and the time size, which may significantly impact the amount of
commitment necessary for collecting and analysing work the athlete has performed. Depending upon the
data. athlete’s size, the amount of work that is actually
In the applied setting, the training environment performed can vary significantly. One method for
requires instantaneous feedback, portability, and accounting for an athlete’s size in the calculation of
relative ease of use.26 In the early 1990’s, there was an volume is the calculation of what has been termed the
attempt to address this need with the development of volume index.1 The volume index calculation method
the V-Scope weightlifting analysis system. This system results in significantly different estimates of workload
was designed as a coaching tool in order to provide when compared to the traditional volume load
instantaneous information about a lift, but because of calculations (Table 2). There are several potential
the need for multiple devices when working with large methods or equations for calculating the volume index
teams and the corresponding cost of the device, its which can be used when attempting to evaluate the
application did not become popular. volume of training.
More recently, the development of accelerometer The first equation that can be used to normalise the
technologies may result in a monitoring break through volume load to body mass is to divide this volume load
which will allow for the direct quantification of training by the athlete’s body mass (Equation 4)1:
workloads.26 Sato et al.26 recently reported the validity Equation 4: Volume index =
of the acceleration measures determined during a high
(sets x repetitions x load (kg)) = Volume load (kg)
pull. However, no data was reported on the ability of
the system to quantify displacements, and further Body mass (kg) Body mass (kg)
scientific inquiry is required in order to verify the ability If, for example, a 100 kg athlete were to perform 3
of the accelerometer to measure displacements and sets of 10 repetitions with 150 kg the equation would
ultimate quantify workloads. If accelerometer be formatted as follows:
technologies are proven by future scientific inquiry to Volume index =
be both accurate and valid with the quantification of
displacement they will unlock an ability to better grasp (3 x 10 x 150) 4500 = 45
=
the workloads accomplished in the resistance training 100 100
environment.
If, for example this athlete were to lose 2 kilogrammes
One potential alternative to high tech devices would be (body mass = 98 kg) and perform the same workout,
to actually measure the displacement of specific the volume index would be able to address this
exercises with a tape measure and place this rough change:
estimate into Equation 3 when attempting to calculate
Volume index =
the volume load.8 This rudimentary method for
calculating displacement expands upon the basic (3 x 10 x 150) 4500 = 46
=
volume load calculation but contains one potential 98 98
confounding factor. Specifically it assumes that the
The basic assumption that is made when dividing the
displacement is consistent between each repetition of a
weight lifted by body mass is that strength levels are
set or across a loading spectrum. The fact that the
proportional to body mass and how that muscle mass
displacement may change across a set for a specific
is distributed.11 However, it has been recently
exercise is supported by work by Haff et al.13 In this
suggested that to normalise strength measures,
study it was determined that the vertical displacement
allometric scaling needs to be employed.11,16,17 The
varied across a set of 5 repetitions at both 90% and
principle of geometric scaling serves as the foundation
120% of the 1 repetition maximum power clean during
for the concept of allometric scaling, which suggests
the performance of a clean pull. Therefore, while a
that the load lifted should be divided by some variable
basic measure of displacement improves upon the
related to body size. This effectively will remove the
basic volume load calculation, a more accurate
effect body mass on the training load.16 The most
approach would be to have a method or technology
common methods for normalising is divide the force by
which measure displacement for each repetition of
body mass to the 2/3 power.
every set.
Therefore, the next equation that can be used when
While the volume load is generally a useful tool for
attempting to normalise the volume load would utilise
quantifying work encountered by the athlete during
an allomterically scaled force value (Equation 5) and be
resistance training, the inclusion of displacement in the
calculated with the following formula:
equation may be necessary to maximize the accuracy
Equation 5: Volume index =
of the estimation. Additionally, when looking at power
exercises, the volume load without the inclusion of (sets x repetitions x load (kg)) = Volume load (kg)
vertical displacement may underestimate the workload Body mass (kg)0.67 Body mass (kg)0.67
accomplished during the exercise19 while partial
movements may result in an overestimation of work If, the athlete described above was 170 cm tall and
accomplished. Even with these potential limitations, weighed 100 kg and performed 3 sets of 10 repetitions

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Table 3: Comparison of Method for Calculating Training Intensity
Warm-up Sets Target Sets Volume Load Training Intensity
Method Exercise Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5 Set 6 Total Target Sets Total Target Sets
% 1-RM Back Squat 30 45 55 60 60 60 1550 900 52 60
5 5 5 5 5
Kilogram Back Squat 67.5 101 124 135 135 135 3488 2025 116 135
5 5 5 5 5
Note: 60 = % 1-Repetition Maximum , percentages are based off of a 225 kg back squat maximum. %1-RM = percentage of 1 repetition maximum.
5 Repetitions

at 150 kg, the normalised volume index would be as considered when attempting to evaluate training
follows: workloads.
Volume index =
(3 x 10 x 150 (kg)) = 4500 (kg) = 205.7
Methods for Quantifying Training
100 (kg)0.67 21.9 (kg)0.67 Intensity
If the athlete then lost 2 kg and performed the exact The ability to represent the training intensity of an
same workout, the volume index would be: exercise or training bout is essential when evaluating a
training plan. When examining the periodisation
Volume index =
literature it is clear that there is a distinct interplay
(3 x 10 x 150 (kg)) = 4500 (kg) = 208.5 between the volume of training and the intensity of the
98 (kg)0.67 21.69 (kg)0.67 training bouts encountered.3,14,18,21,22
By allometrically scaling the body mass and then Traditionally there are two methods which can be used
calculating the volume index the coach is able to to quantify intensity during a training session:
compare the training loads encountered by athletes of 1) the training intensity, and
different sizes and effectively monitor the training
2) the intensity index.
stressors encountered as the athlete’s body weight
changes. Ideally, this estimation would be stronger if Training Intensity: Training intensity is considered as
the volume load calculated was based upon the actual the average kilogrammes lifted for an individual
distance traveled by the bar during the lift. This would exercise or overall training session. Typically this
be accomplished with the following equation: estimate of intensity is calculated as follows:
Equation 6: Volume index = Equation 7: Exercise intensity = Volume load
(sets x reps x load (kg) x distance (m)) = Volume load (kg) Repetitions
0.67 0.67
Body mass (kg) Body mass (kg)
For example, if an athlete were to perform three sets
If, for example, the same lifter above moved the of 5 repetitions at 135 kilograms the volume load could
barbell a total of 0.6 m during the back squat be calculated with Equation 1 yielding a volume load of
performed in the previous example, the volume load 2025 kg and plugged into Equation 7 as follows:
equation would be calculated as follows: Exercise intensity =
Volume index = 2025 kg = 2025 kg = 135 kg
(3 x 10 x 150 (kg) x 0.6 (m)) = (2700 kg·m-1) = 124.5 Total Repetitions 15
98 (kg)0.67 21.69 (kg)0.67
If the calculation was performed based upon the
Comparing the results of the volume load calculated percentage of 1-repetition maximum (RM) method,
with Equations 5 and 6 reveals a slightly different then volume load would be calculated with the use of
workload value for this exercise. This small difference Equation 2 and the volume load determined would then
in the quantification of work for an individual exercise be plugged into Equation 7. If the athlete, in this
can be meaningful when a total training session’s example, had a maximum back squat of 225 kg, the
volume load is calculated and, therefore, should be target loads of 135 kg would represent 60% of their 1-

Table 4. Example calculation of volume load and training intensity for a workout.
Method 1 Method 2
Load % Total Volume Training Volume Training
Exercise Sets Repetitions (kg) 1RM Repetitions Load Intensity Load Intensity
Equation 1 (kg) (kg) Equation 2 (kg) kg
Back Squat 3 10 150 67 30 4500 150 2010 67
¼ Back Squat 3 10 180 60 30 5400 180 1800 60
1-Leg Squat 3 10 50 22* 30 1500 50 660 22
Behind Neck Press 3 10 60 50 30 3000 60 1500 50
Training day totals= 120 14400 110 5970 50
Note: *= the 1-leg squat was calculated as a percent of the 1-RM back squat. Based upon a 1-RM back squat of 225 kg and the athlete weighs
100 kg
** = note the volume index calculations are based off of the volume load calculated with equation 1.
Equation 1: sets x repetitions x load (kg)
Equation 2: sets x repetitions x %1RM
Method 1: uses Equation 1 in the calculation of volume load
Method 2: uses Equation 2 in the calculation of volume load

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RM and Equation 7 would be as
follows:
Exercise intensity =

Intensity
Training

(kg)

116

137
900 kg = 900 kg = 60 kg

88

15

30
Total
Total Repetitions 15
If you examine Table 3 closely, it is

Volume

3475

4100

2650
Load
(kg)

225

450
clear that when the training load is
held constant at the target sets, the
kilogrammes lifted or the %1-RM
and Training Intensity

represents the exercise intensity.

Intensity
Total Volume Load

Training

(kg)
However, if the load fluctuates this will

145

170

100

15

30
Target Sets
not be the case. For example, looking
at the total workload, which includes
the warm-up sets the exercise intensity

Volume

2175

2550

1500
Load
is represented as either 52 or

(kg)

225

450
Table 5: Example of Examining the Volume Load and Training Intensity Based upon the Type of Exercise or Category of Exercise.

116 kilograms depending upon the


method of quantification.
The training intensity for individual
Intensity
Training

exercises can then be used to calculate


(kg)

103
87

77
an overall intensity for the training day
Warm-up

(Table 4).3,27,28 In Table 4, for example,


the athlete performed a basic 4
Volume

exercise training day which was part of


1300

1550

1150
Load
(kg)

a strength endurance block of training.


After calculating the volume load the
training intensity for the day was
determined. It is important to note
by Exercise Classification

that the training intensity is an


Total Volume Load

average intensity for all the exercises


performed, and thus, smaller muscle
mass exercise will result in a decrease
in the average intensity for the
145

170

100
Set

15

30

training day.
5

5
6

One strategy that can be used to deal


Target Sets

with this issue is to calculate the


145

170

100
Set

15

30
5

5
5

volume load and training intensity for


the warm-up, target sets and down
sets while examining the results based
145

170

100
Set

upon the whole workout or by exercise


15

30
5

5
4

type. For example, when looking at


Table 5 there is a difference between
the total session volume load of
110

140
Set

90
5

5
3

10900 kg and the target set volume


load of 6900 kg. Additionally, the
Warm-up

inclusion of the warm-up sets in the


110
Set

90

80

calculation of the training intensity will


5

5
2
Total Volume Load
by Exercise Type

result in a lower training intensity


value as will combining auxiliary and
core exercise in the calculation. In this
Set

60

60
Power Clean 60
5

5
1

example, the volume load for the core


exercises is 10225 kg and the training
Back Squat

Front Raise

Bicep Curls
Push Press

intensity is 114 kg while the auxiliary


Exercise

exercises have a volume load of


675 kg with a training intensity of
23 kg.
Regardless of how the training
intensity and volume load are sub-
divided, it is important that the
Strength

Strength

method is clearly defined and


Exercise
Type of

Power

consistently applied. By examining the


training intensity depicted in the
various aspects of the training session
(i.e. warm-up, target sets, down sets,
Core Exercises

and total workout) the strength and


conditioning professional can garner a
Exercises
Category

Auxiliary
Exercise

more accurate picture of the training


stressors encountered by the athlete.

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36 © UKSCA | Issue 19 | Autumn 2010 w: www.uksca.org.uk e: info@uksca.org.uk
Table 6. Example calculation of volume index and intensity index for a workout.
Method 1 Method 2
Exercise Sets Repetitions Load % Total Equation 1 Equation 2 Equation 4 Equation 5
(kg) 1RM Repetitions (kg) (kg)
Back Squat 3 10 150 67 30 45 1.5 206 6.9
¼ Back Squat 3 10 180 60 30 54 1.8 247 8.2
1-Leg Squat 3 10 50 22* 30 15 0.5 69 2.3
Behind Neck Press 3 10 60 50 30 18 0.6 82 2.7
Training day totals/averages= 120 114 1.1 603 5.0
Note: *= the 1-leg squat was calculated as a percent of the 1-RM back squat. Based upon a 1-RM back squat of 225 kg and the athlete weighs
100 kg and is 170 cm tall.
Method 1: uses Equation 4 [sets x repetitions x load/body mass (kg)] to calculate volume index
Method 2: uses Equation 5 [sets x repetitions x load/body mass (kg)0.67] to calculate volume index

Table 7: Example use of Volume Load and Training Intensity Projections in the Planning Process.

Load (%1M) Total Block Values


Day Exercise Sets Reps Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Volume Load Training Intensity
Monday Squat 3 5 70 75 80 73 4470 75
Power Clean 3 5 70 75 80 73 4470 75
Bench Press 3 5 70 75 80 73 4470 75
Wednesday Power Snatch 3 5 65 70 75 63 4095 68
Snatch Pull (FL) 3 5 65 70 75 63 4095 68
Overhead Squat 3 5 65 70 75 63 4095 68
Friday Front Squat 3 5 60 65 70 63 3870 65
Power Clean 3 5 60 65 70 63 3870 65
Incline Bench Press 3 5 60 65 70 63 3870 65

Intensity Index: The intensity index is another Applying Methods of Quantifying


method of representing the intensity of the training
bout or exercise.1 Typically, the intensity index is Volume and Training Intensity
calculated with the following equation:
The ability to accurately plan, track and monitor the
Equation 8: Intensity index = Volume index volume and intensity of the resistance training
Total repetitions programme allows for a better understanding of the
training stressors encountered by the athlete.
When employing this equation the volume index can be Specifically employing basic calculations allows the
calculated with either Equation 4 or 5 and then divided strength and conditioning professional the ability to
by the total number of repetitions performed in the more accurately determine the dosage of training and
various aspects of the training session. ensure that the athlete’s level of preparedness is
For example, looking at Table 6, it is clear that tracking in the appropriate direction. Conceptually, the
allometric scaling (method 2) alters the volume index, application of the materials presented in this brief
which in turn, alters the intensity index when review can be considered in the context of either the
compared to the more traditional method for planning or monitoring process.
computing both variables (method 1). With this Planning Training: When the strength and
method, the intensity index allows for the conditioning professional is designing the periodised
quantification of an intensity which accounts for body training plan it is important that he/she understands
size and shifts in body mass that can occur as a result the variations in the workloads and patterns of loading
of weight gain or weight loss, and thus, may have an contained in the various phases of their overall plan.
impact on training stressors.1 One method that can be used to accomplish this goal is
to use Equation 2 to project the volume loads of

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© UKSCA | Issue 19 | Autumn 2010 w: www.uksca.org.uk e: info@uksca.org.uk 37
Table 8: Example Use of Volume Load and Training Intensity as a Monitoring Tool.

Load (kg) Total Block Values


Day Exercise Sets Reps Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Volume Load Training Intensity
Monday Squat 3 5 154 165 176 161 9834 164
Power Clean 3 5 112 120 128 117 7152 119
Bench Press 3 5 95 101 108 99 6034.5 101
Wednesday Power Snatch 3 5 78 84 90 82 5004 83
Snatch Pull (FL) 3 5 85 91 97.5 88 5421 90
Overhead Squat 3 5 78 84 90 82 5004 83
Friday Front Squat 3 5 108 117 126 113 6966 116
Power Clean 3 5 96 104 112 101 6192 103
Incline Bench Press 3 5 72 78 84 76 4644 77
Notes: Based upon the following actual and estimated 1-repetition maximums: Back squat = 220, power clean = 160, bench press =135, power
snatch = 120, snatch pull = 130, overhead squat = 120, front squat=180; and incline bench press = 120.

Table 9: Example Use of Allomertically Scaled Volume Index and Training Index as a Monitoring Tool.

Load (kg.kg-0.67) Total Block Values


Day Exercise Sets Reps Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Volume Load Training Intensity
Monday Squat 3 5 104.1 111.4 118.3 108.7 442.6 7.4
Power Clean 3 5 75.7 81.0 86.0 79.1 321.9 5.4
Bench Press 3 5 63.9 68.4 72.6 66.7 271.6 4.5
Body Mass 102.1 102.3 103 101.9
Wednesday Power Snatch 3 5 53.1 57.2 60.9 55.4 226.5 3.8
Snatch Pull (FL) 3 5 57.5 62.0 65.9 60.0 245.3 4.1
Overhead Squat 3 5 53.1 57.2 60.9 55.4 226.5 3.8
Body Mass 101.2 101 102.1 101.6
Friday Front Squat 3 5 73.4 79.2 85.5 77.1 315.2 5.3
Power Clean 3 5 65.2 70.4 76.0 68.6 280.2 4.7
Incline Bench Press 3 5 48.9 52.8 57.0 51.4 210.1 3.5
Body Mass 101.4 102 101.5 101.2
Notes: Based upon the following actual and estimated 1-repetition maximums: Back squat = 220, power clean = 160, bench press =135, power
snatch = 120, snatch pull = 130, overhead squat = 120, front squat=180; and incline bench press = 120.

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38 © UKSCA | Issue 19 | Autumn 2010 w: www.uksca.org.uk e: info@uksca.org.uk
training and Equation 7 to project the expect training
Figure 1: Example 3:1 Loading Paradigm.
intensity that will be encountered by the athlete. This
method can be especially useful when working with
large numbers of athletes as individualisation can occur
after the basic planning is completed.
For example, if a 4-week block of training was being
designed with a 3:1 loading paradigm, the basic volume
load and training intensity would increase across the
first 3 microcycles of training, and then, the 4
microcycle would represent an unloading week (Figure
1). The basic daily programme may look like the
example presented in Table 7. By using percentages of
the athlete’s 1-RM’s for each of the exercises planned, a
basic training intensity variation can be visualised
during the planning process. While this is only an
estimate of the intensities, it does give the strength and
conditioning professional a rough idea of what the
training load variation might be.
Looking at the basic structure of the mesocycle
presented in Figure 1 and Table 7, it is clear that a
classic model of periodisation has been structured
based upon the examples presented by Plisk and
Stone23 in the planning process. Careful inspection of
the example plan demonstrates daily and microcycle Figure 2: Example 3:1 Loading Paradigm Based upon
fluctuations in volume load and training intensities. Volume Load and Training Intensity Values From
Even though Figure 1 and Table 7 allow for the ability Actual Training Results.
to visualise the basic loading structures, it is important
to note that the actual accomplished work may be
slightly different depending upon the ability of the
athlete to complete the prescribed workloads and their
1-RM’s for each exercise.
Monitoring Training: From a monitoring perspective
the actual lifts completed and the kilogrammes lifted
should be used in the calculations of both volume load
and training intensity. Using the same basic exercises
and loading patterns as presented in planning training
section (Table 7) of this article could be completed by
an athlete. Based upon the number of repetitions
completed and the athletes maximal capacity in the lifts
planed, the basic 3:1 loading pattern was completed
(Figure 2). While this basic pattern is slightly different
than the one used in the planning process, it still
represents what the structural pattern established.
Further inspection of the training plan and results can
be done by looking at Table 8 where the actual weights
lifted are recorded. While it is highly unlikely that the
athlete will make every lift at a prescribed load for this Figure 3: Example 3:1 Loading Paradigm Based
example, let’s assume that they have. Based upon the upon Volume Index and Intensity Index Values
basic volume load and training intensity calculations we From Actual Training Results.
can see that daily and microcycle variations in volume
and intensity of training are created. However, the
exercise selected and the athlete’s maximal capacities
in these lifts, the Wednesday workout had a lower
volume and intensity then planned in Table 7.
Another potential method for monitoring the training
programme is to calculate the allometrically scaled
volume and intensity index (Table 9). Central to the
ability to employ this monitoring tool is the daily
determination of body weight. In this example, the
same programme as presented in Table 8 is re-analysed
with the use of the volume and intensity indexes. As
with the previous examples, a 3:1 loading paradigm has
been performed (Figure 3). Careful inspection reveals
that the basic loading pattern depicted in Table 8 is
only slightly altered when presented in the context of
the volume and intensity index values. The small
difference in loading patterns is largely a result of the
fact that the athlete in this example only demonstrated

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© UKSCA | Issue 19 | Autumn 2010 w: www.uksca.org.uk e: info@uksca.org.uk 39
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