What is training load - and how to gain optimal workout results?



The main components of training load are volume and intensity. These must be increased to cause progressive overload and adaptation. Also, there is a trade-off between volume and intensity: in most cases, volume goes down as intensity increases and vice-versa.




The most common way to define volume in strength training is this:

Volume = sets x repetitions x resistance in lbs or kilos.

So doing 3 sets of 10 reps using 200 lbs gives you a total volume of 6000 lbs.

Usually volume must be increased to cause adaptation. Training volume can be increased by a number of ways. You can:

Add more weight. This is a common and easy practice. For beginners, strength can increase up to 100% in the first couple of months. In this case, training volume will be doubled. More experienced lifters cannot increase volume significantly just by adding weight and therefore usually need to use the following ways to increase volume.

Do more reps. Increasing reps increases volume. However, there’s not much point in increasing volume by reps beyond 15 repetitions per set, if your aim is to increase muscle mass and strength.

Do more sets. Increasing sets is a valuable tool. A beginner can start with 1–2 sets per exercise and end up using 3–4 sets. More experienced trainees often add sets to maintain sufficient volume as intensity increases.

Do more exercises. Volume per workout can be increased by simply performing more exercises. This method is commonly used in split programs, which can include up to five exercises for a relatively small muscle group like the chest.

Exercise more often. By doing three whole body workouts per week instead of two will increase training volume by 33%. However, training frequency must be carefully monitored. Excess frequency is one of the main reasons for overtraining and staleness.




In strength training, intensity simply describes how heavy a load you are using relative to your 1 repetition maximum (1 RM). If 1 RM is 100 lbs, doing sets using 80 lbs means your training intensity is 80%. “Intensity” is often used to do describe the psychological strain or effort used in the session. If you did all sets to absolute failure, cut your rest periods to a half and were really wiped out after the session, you usually call that session very “intense”, even though you may have used 70–75% loads.

Intensity must be increased to cause adaptation. Here are some ways how you can increase your intensity:

Increase load: Load increase is a key ingredient for progressive overload, thus enabling muscle adaptation. You must periodically increase load relative to your maximum. Training with too low intensity, like 60–70% or 10–15 reps for up to several months will lead to the state of plateau. Doing sets with 80–85% 1 RM or 5–8 reps keeps your progress going on. However, by constantly training with near maximal, maximal or even supramaximal (negative) reps can rapidly drive you to overreaching and overtraining.

Decrease your rest period: This leads to more physiological and psychological demand and can trigger further adaptation. You do more work in a given time. The term “density” is also used in this occasion. Although intensity in terms of absolute load can even decrease a bit, this kind of training “feels” more intense.

Use specific “intensity” techniques. Doing sets to absolute failure by using methods like super sets and drop sets can all cause more fatigue in the neuromuscular system. By doing 3 drop sets instead of 3 straight sets to failure in leg press will surely increase your subjective intensity rating, even if the absolute load would be less in drop sets.



Learn to listen your body

In RecoApp, these two elements are put together in a revolutionary way. The bar with the title “How hard was your workout” combines both volume and intensity. With this adjustable workload bar, you can give a subjective rating of your total workload and thus monitor the recovery from workout. You can also monitor essential recovery parameters like sleep, nutrition and stress. In this way you can soon figure out how long it takes for you to recover from a given training load and see how manipulating volume and intensity affects your recovery. You can calibrate the workload bar and recovery times for your individual needs. Think about RecoApp as a handmade, tailored tool. It doesn’t claim there is one truth, and one truth only. Instead, it is a carefully tailored tool for all strength trainers, and takes into account that our bodies all behave differently, life stressors can vary and some of us can be more experienced trainers than others. This is the proper way – much better than following guidelines or programs set in stone, which can lead to either over- or undertraining.



Optimal load, optimal recovery, optimal adaptations

Too much training load and underestimating your recovery times will eventually lead to overtraining. Too light training load and too much recovery will lead to a decrease in performance as well. By using RecoApp Muscle Recovery, you can monitor the total workload (intensity + volume) of your training sessions and quickly discover what kinds of loads and recovery times will give you optimal results. For example, if you and your friend follow the same exhaustive chest routine, it may take him or her 7 rest days to recover from this training load, but you may be able to hit the weights again after 5 days. If you follow the same recovery schedule as he or she does, you take almost 30% excess rest. This greatly slows down your progress in the long run. So find your optimal, individual recovery times and watch your strength and muscle mass levels skyrocket!


Data analysis for your smart clothing

As mentioned above, in our application workload bar can be adjusted to give a subjective rating of your total workload. Rating and real-time view of the workload can be received automatically with smart clothes. This is when our patent is needed to interpret the data.

RecoApp’s efficient, visually pleasant and quickly readable way of the data interpretation is a user-friendly experience. Smart clothing is a rapidly growing business and manufacturers need more efficient ways to interpret the data. RecoApp’s patent covers using an image of a human figure in a form of traffic light color coding for receiving and displaying optimal training information regarding muscle recovery times. Therefore it is a significant asset for smart clothing manufacturers to protect their smart clothing portfolio.

RecoApp has demonstrated the function of the patent through MVP mobile application. RecoApp's MVP has over 10 000 users.

Learn to listen to your body - and discover your ideal supercompensation times with the help of RecoApp. The U.S Patent Pending. Global PCT Patent Pending.

 Download RecoApp on the App Store



Timo Haikarainen, MSc, Finnish personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach.

Markus Mäntynen, the CEO and founder of RecoApp Oy.


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