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Nova Performance Weekly Blog

by Adam Smith on Aug 17, 2021


Let's start with what volume is.

What is the training volume?

Volume is a measure of the total amount of activity or work that you perform. In Resistance training volume involves variables like: Reps and sets.

You can look at volume over the session, week, month or in some cases coaches look at it across the year.

When it comes to programming volume it depends on the athlete and their goals.

In Greg Everett’s words

“The snatch, clean and jerk are more complex than the powerlifting squat, bench and deadlift by orders of magnitude; the degrees of technical skill involved in the two pursuits are not even comparable. I don’t say this to disparage powerlifting or powerlifters in any way, but it’s an unavoidable truth, and it plays a role in training differences. This being the case, it’s obvious that in order to master the competitive lifts, far more time and far more quality reps must be performed by the weightlifter than the powerlifter. Weightlifting is a unique sport in that the lifts inextricably link the motor qualities of precise movement and timing with strength and speed. Powerlifting has a huge strength component, but minimal skill; something like pitching a baseball has a huge skill component, but minimal strength. People are not usually resistant to the idea of a baseball pitcher throwing a lot of balls in a day, week, month or year, because the need to practice the skill is obvious. The skill of weightlifting is not as obvious because most people are viewing it from a perspective largely shaped by history with bodybuilding and powerlifting training.”

So that being said we can include more volume in the snatch and clean and jerk variations as this is a more skilled movement rather than a Back squat or Deadlift which are strength movements.

Women and Volume

The amount of volume and load percentages can differ massively between men and women.

Women on average can handle more volume than men.

Why do you ask?

Well estrogen is an anti-catabolic hormone that aids in muscle repair, reduces protein break-down during exercise and protects you against muscle damage. This allows women to train with a higher training volume without becoming over trained.

This is a massive factor when programming for a female athlete.

I say this because women can handle less rest time between sets, higher amounts of sets and reps. Women can also handle percentages closer to their 1 rep max weight.

I say this from my experience of coaching lots of women at NOVA. From a fun and recreational standard to a competitive standard athlete.

Now all I can say again is that this differs from woman to woman and there is no right and wrong.

How a woman is on their menstrual cycle and how their body copes with this is again unique to the woman. From my experience of coaching I have had female athletes who can't catch a snatch due to lack of balance, concentration and fatigue when they are menstruating.

However I have had the complete other effect when a different female athlete can handle even more amounts of volume and higher percentages when menstruating.

So again this is personal to the woman and how they feel.

Now we have covered how women can handle more volume than men.

Let's look at the other variables to how athletes can handle more than others.

Let's list them off 1 by 1


Sleep is super important and on average you should be getting between 6 and 9 hours of sleep per night. If you don't get this then you are not going to be able to recover from your workouts as well if you only get 4-5 hours of sleep per night.

I'll explain why.

When you get into a deep sleep this is where the body recovers at its fastest rate. If you are only sleeping for 4 hours a night then you will spend less time in this stage than say if you are sleeping for 7 hours a night.

Therefore if you sleep and recover better then you can recover better and have a higher chance of handling volume training better.


This is always a massive topic. We have all head the phrase “ You can’t outtrain a poor diet”

This is so true!

Now I am not a nutritionist so I am not going to tell you what you should do, but I do like to think I have common sense in the fact that I know I can't eat KFC everyday except to get results from training and recover.

How should we be fueling our bodies to recover better from training?

Protein will help us massively, as this aids muscle growth and repair. For a strength athlete, usually you should be having 2-2.2 grams per 1kg of body weight.

We need to also have carbs and fats to fuel our bodies so we can train and complete the sessions with the correct intensity.

Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. In their absence, your body will use protein and fat for energy.

Therefore we are taking away the protein from the muscles that need to repair and grow from the volume training that we are doing.

Fat Provides a long duration of energy.

Therefore when we train we use our carbohydrates for short term energy expenditure, Our proteins are going to repair and grow our muscles and fats are going to keep us having energy long after we have trained.


Intensity is a great part of training and we can use this in so many ways, for example, we can increase working time, loads, volume and resting time.

If you have a stupid amount of intesnity when doing volume then this could be the reason that you cant handle it. Just because it’s actually too hard to complete the workout.

So you would have to find out how much your body can handle and go from there.

Once you know this you can slowly progressive overload the movements that you do.

We must realise that if we put all our volume on Snatch and Clean and Jerks then we can not put loads of volume say on our Front squat or in your Deadlift. As this will be an overload in intensity.

When focusing on volume make sure you know what the outcome is.

If it's to get better leg drive in the Snatch then we would put lots of sets and reps to address that issue. If you wanted more leg mass then we would focus on high bar back squats and use all our energy to focus on this.


This is huge. Now a lot of us use weightlifting as a stress relief.

That’s great!

However sometimes it can get too much. We have all been here. When we are about to have a gym session then something else pops up and doesn’t go to plan. So it ruins our session. Then we have a bad session and then we feel worse than we did before.

You could be stressed from work, family, money, food etc… Whatever that is, try and keep it outside of the gym.

If it's the gym what is stressing you out. For example you’re not seeing progression in your weights or your not looking any better or even the weights just feel super heavy.

Have a look at all of the above and see if there is something that you can change.

As if you get a routine in place, start eating well and don't feel like you have to beat up your body every session then you properly won’t feel stressed about the gym.


To sum up this blog, women can handle more volume than men due to their natural production of Estrogen.

Women during their menstrual cycle handle this very differently to the extreme of not being able to handle the minimum or being able to excel the maximal volume needed and be absolutely fine.

To handle volume we need to get on top of our Sleep, Nutrition and Stress so our body can adapt to high training volumes.

We also need to be specific in our targets and realise that strength is a long term goal.

Weightlifting is a 10 year sport.


I hope you enjoyed the read and stay posted for the next one. If you have any questions just shoot me an email on

If you want to see some of my training logs and videos follow me on Instagram @thicc__astley or @npbarbellclub

See you all soon!

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