If you have been working out for a substantial period of time but not seeing any results, chances are your ratio of volume, intensity and frequency is off. These three things are mutually exclusive variables of exercise which can determine your progress and results. You need to adjust your exercise volume, intensity and frequency depending on what your goals are.

  • Volume: Volume is basically the amount of work being done. This can be measured in reps, sets and weight. Different volumes of exercise will produce different results. For example, high volumes of exercise will most likely build muscle while pure strength will require lower volumes. Proper training volumes should be dependent on one’s goal and one’s recovery ability.

  • Intensity: The Intensity of exercise is how hard you are training. Your intensity level is determined by the percentage of your 1 Rep Max that you are lifting. 1 Rep Max is the most weight you can lift for 1 repetition whilst keeping proper form and without needing significant help. Lower intensity workout allows for a higher volume of workouts and vice versa.

  • Frequency: The frequency refers to how often exercise is being done. High frequency would be 3 plus workouts per week, while low frequency would be less than 2 workouts per week. The frequency of your workouts is key for your body’s neural adaptations. Neural adaptations can include a higher or quicker recruitment of muscle fibres within a muscle, allowing you to produce a greater force and lift heavier weights.

As stated previously, these three factors are mutually exclusive and so if one of them increases, the other two factors should decrease. For example, if volume is increased, frequency and intensity should decrease in order for you to progress. This is due to the need for your muscles to recover in between exercise sessions. Low volume, high frequency exercise sessions seem to progress nicely whereas high volume, low frequency sessions don’t have as good a result. Of course, the ratio of the three factors is different for each individual and is something for you to experiment with in regards to your exercise sessions and goals.