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I've been lifting with low volume (up to 3 sets) 6 or 7 times a week, with progressive overload, for over a year with some deloading periods. I've seen notable progress but I think I'm having trouble recovering. So I'm experimenting with keeping volume constant but exercise 3 days a week (so, where I did 3 sets in the past, I now do 6).

My question is, what to measure and for how long to see which method is more effective for me?

I'm tracking everything there's to track (lifted weight, reps, personal weight, fat level with calipers)

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    What is your goal that you feel your recovery is failing? the use of calipers implies fat loss, maybe bodybuilding...?
    – Chuck
    Jul 20 at 20:52
  • Yes, amateurish bodybuilding, and it doesn't mean fat loss, necessarily, in my case it's just control and trend watching. Recovery failing means mostly a subjective feeling of tiredness - which is why I'm trying a different frequency to see what happens
    – user35666
    Jul 21 at 5:05
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    The tiredness is likely from a nutritional defecit or lack of sleep. The other cause for general tiredness would be overtraining, but it's highly doubtful that just a slightly higher volume of sets would have that effect.
    – Chuck
    Jul 22 at 10:56
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You're not necessarily having trouble recovering.

After a year is usually where new lifters start to plateau from a linear progression of just adding weight. i.e. The End of Noobie Gains (as they say)

Sometimes just switching the style of programming will jumpstart your progress.

First off - Make sure your nutrition and sleep is on target (those are the major factors in recovery)

2/ Try out different programs - liftvault.com is a great resource for free programming.

The only way to determine the best Volume vs frequency vs. intensity for you is by trying out different programs and seeing how you progress and feel.

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  • Hi! You are not answering my question though. Which is - what would you suggest for determining which frequency is better for me?
    – user35666
    Jul 21 at 5:03
  • #2 answers your question. The only way to determine the best Volume vs. intesity for you is by trying out different programs and seeing how you progress and feel.
    – Chuck
    Jul 22 at 10:48
  • Which is what I'm doing - I'm not clear if you're suggesting that my experiment is not worth it and should try a different experiment, nor how long you suggest experiments should be run for
    – user35666
    Jul 22 at 12:08
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If you feel that you're having trouble recovering, I would suggest tracking your recovery metrics while you're at it. Hours of daily sleep, litres of water intake, daily macros, and if you're taking supplements a nice checklist to make sure you've remembered to take them. Sleep, diet, and hydration play a huge role in your performance in the gym.

In terms of experimenting, everything needs to be done over a long period of time. I'm thinking months and years over days and weeks. If you want to switch to the same volume but fewer days, that's a great idea, but try doing it for 3-4 months. When you're tracking your workout, make note of things like the RPE of sets, your fatigue levels (e.g. motivation and soreness), and you can make yourself some graphs for reference.

If in 4 months you see improvement, rest is better, lifts are improving, body composition is changing up nicely, then I'd continue doing what you're doing. I don't think it's necessary to double-back to 6 days a week. 12-15 sets per muscle group per week should be sufficient, assuming you're hitting RPE 8/9s, even if it's only 3 days per week.

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