I have included a sample week of work outs, plus my calculations of volume. After reviewing the training approach for 2008, I wanted to become as specific as possible while tracking progressions. I am in the second week of a six week phase structured around improving my ability to handle large volumes of work, with incrementally increasing intensities. Currently, I only determine the amount of volume during the main workout, and I do not include the warm-up movements in the total. My question is in two parts. First, is my approach and method of tracking appropriate? If so, am I correct to put a greater emphasis on determining the number of repetitions complete (according to my standards) versus the total poundage lifted?

Answer

Sadly, there is more to it than volume, and even volume is a deceptive metric.

If I measure volume by pounds lifted how do 20x Snatches @ 135# compare to 20x DL @ 275# if the bar moves 140cm in the Snatch and 50cm for the DL? What do I record for each? And how are 20x KB Swings @ 53# counted, and is it different if I do them one-handed vs. two-handed?

If I measure volume by time, to include the movement phases of the exercise as well as the rest between, how do I account for the effect of density, another concept Kurz discusses? As an example: 8x 20 sec work/ 10 sec rest lasts as long as 4x 30 sec work/ 30 sec rest or 8x 10 sec work/ 20 sec rest but the effect of the these variations is quite different according to work/rest ratio but also according to the intensity of the work.

Learning to measure work output is one step on the path to eventually ignoring it. The latter is ideal but cannot be achieved without the former. Fixating on single metrics or descriptors of the training is a trap that we all fall into, and will continue to fall into without constant vigilance. The best metrics are recovery speed and quality, and progress. Sure, it will be nice to know what level of intensity, frequency, volume, exercise and workout order, etc. produces the best progress without compromising recovery (the two go together) but reducing it to numbers cannot be done. The mind and body are organic. Feeling and intuition sometimes (often) trump numerical analysis.


Post-reply analysis: I haven't yet decided if my answer is a cop-out. It may fall into the "ambiguity stimulates lateral thinking" category. I have difficulty tracking training by any other method than observation of the individuals themselves, the work they do, how they look and behave when doing it, how well they recover, how their mood is before each workout and as a trend, and ultimately, most importantly, how they perform "on the day." I scrutinize, I keep track of loads and reps and volume and recovery and the sport specific training trends but applying a numerical value to all of the various metrics of the work and its results on the different athletes I train is like a double-backflip on a motorcycle: I know it has been done but it doesn't appear possible from my perspective. I use a variety objective and subjective measurements to guide and track my own training because I know how I feel, if I am recovered, how I perform on race day, or teaching, etc. But asking that level of description and honesty from the guys, and then understanding it is altogether another, deeper skill. One which I am in the process of learning.

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