Are you willing to make a positive change? Join the thousands of individuals on the same fitness journey!

TESTMONIALS Start Your Transformation
English Macedonian

Are you willing to make a positive change? Join the thousands of individuals on the same fitness journey!

TESTMONIALS Start Your Transformation
English Macedonian

Insulin Resistance

You could be insulin resistant for years without knowing it. This condition typically does not trigger any noticeable symptoms, so it’s important to have a doctor regularly check your blood glucose levels.

Key Takeaways:

  • Symptoms: Classic diabetes symptoms include extreme thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination, fatigue, and tingling sensations in hands or feet. Some may develop acanthosis nigricans, a skin condition.
  • Testing: Diagnosis involves A1C, fasting blood glucose, glucose tolerance tests, and random blood draws.
  • Risk Factors: Sedentary lifestyle, family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes increase risk.

Symptoms of insulin resistance

If you have prediabetes, it’s important to work with your doctor. They will routinely monitor your blood sugar or hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) so they can recognize whether you’ve developed diabetes.

Classic diabetes symptoms include:

  • extreme thirst or hunger
  • feeling hungry even after a meal
  • increased or frequent urination
  • tingling sensations in hands or feet
  • feeling more tired than usual
  • frequent infections
  • evidence of high blood sugar levels in blood work

Some people with insulin resistance may also develop a skin condition known as acanthosis nigricans. It appears as dark, velvety patches often on the backs of the neck, groin, and armpits.

Some experts believe insulin directly and indirectly activates the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptors on types of skin cells called keratinocytes and fibroblasts. This could lead to the growth and development of the condition Acanthosis Nigricans. There’s no cure for this condition. However, if another condition causes these symptoms, treatment may help natural skin color return.

If you don’t have obvious symptoms, your doctor can usually detect prediabetes or diabetes with lab tests.

Though doctors don’t usually test for insulin resistance, the most accurate test is a euglycemic insulin clamp that’s used for research purposes.

Testing and diagnosis of insulin resistance

A1C test

One way to diagnose prediabetes or diabetes is with an A1C test. This test measures your average blood sugar over the previous 2 to 3 months.

  • An A1C under 5.7 percent is considered normal.
  • An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent is diagnostic for prediabetes.
  • An A1C equal to or above 6.5 percent is diagnostic for diabetes.

Your doctor may want to reconfirm the test results later. However, depending on the lab where you have your blood drawn, these numbers could vary by 0.1 to 0.2 percent.

Fasting blood glucose test

A fasting blood glucose test will show your fasting blood sugar level. You’d have this test done after not eating or drinking for at least 8 hours.

A high level may require a second test a few days later to confirm the reading. If both tests show high levels of blood glucose, your doctor may diagnose you with prediabetes or diabetes.

  • Fasting blood sugar levels under 100 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) are considered normal.
  • Levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL indicate prediabetes.
  • Levels equal to or greater than 126 mg/dL are diagnostic for diabetes.

Depending on the lab, these numbers could vary up to 3 mg/dL points in the cutoff numbers.

Glucose tolerance testing

A 2-hour glucose tolerance test may be another way to diagnose prediabetes or diabetes. Your blood glucose level will be determined before this test begins. You’ll then receive a premeasured sugary drink, and your blood glucose level is checked again in 2 hours.

  • A blood sugar level of less than 140 mg/dL after 2 hours is considered normal.
  • A result between 140 mg/dL and 199 mg/dL is considered prediabetes.
  • A blood sugar level of 200mg/dL or higher is considered diabetes.

Random blood draws

Random blood sugar tests are useful if you’re experiencing significant diabetes symptoms.

Risk factors for insulin resistance

Testing for diabetes should begin at about age 40, along with the usual tests for cholesterol and other markers of health. Ideally, your doctor will request testing at your annual physical exam or preventive screening.

Your doctor may recommend testing at a younger age if you have these risk factors:

  • have a sedentary, or inactive, lifestyle
  • have a low HDL (good cholesterol) level or high triglyceride level
  • have a parent or sibling with diabetes
  • have high blood pressure (140/90 mm Hg or above)
  • have symptoms of prediabetes
  • were diagnosed with gestational diabetes (a temporary condition that causes diabetes only while pregnant)
  • had a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • have had a stroke

Children and teens ages 10 to 18 may also benefit from diabetes screening if they have overweight and have two or more of the above risk factors for diabetes.


Preventing insulin resistance problems

If you have prediabetes, you may be able to prevent the condition from developing into diabetes with these health-promoting behaviors:

  • Work toward including exercise as a part of your daily routine, preferably getting in 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
  • Try to eat a nutrient-rich, balanced diet as often as possible.
  • If you have overweight, consider losing weight — even reducing your body weight by just 7 percent can help lower your risk of developing diabetes.

Making health-promoting lifestyle choices is the best way to help get your blood glucose levels in the desired range.

The bottom line

Understanding symptoms, testing, and risk factors of insulin resistance is crucial for timely diagnosis and prevention of diabetes.

10 simple ways to work on self-improvement

Perhaps you want to invest in self-improvement to be more mindful, to learn new skills, or to inspire others. But just how do you improve yourself?

While there’s no one way of working on self-improvement, there are some tried and true strategies worth mentioning.

The suggestions below will provide the inspiration and motivation needed to kickstart this self-improvement journey.

Key Takeaways:

  • Self-improvement is a continuous journey towards personal growth, involving awareness, learning, and discovering one’s unique strengths.
  • Strategies for self-improvement include reading, journaling, affirmations, physical exercise, mindful language use, trying new experiences, and decluttering.
  • Ten practical ways to improve oneself include focusing on strengths, seeking feedback, working with an accountability partner, starting small, committing to curiosity, and celebrating successes.

What is self-improvement?

Self-improvement can be described as a life-long process. If we want to be at point Z at the end of our life, self-improvement is the process that makes us move from A to B to C… along with all the steps we need to reach our last stage and fulfill our life.

The final stage is different for each of us, and the intermediate ones as well. But everyone can go through the process and experience the meaning — and the pleasure — of expanding oneself and enabling new stages to happen

Self-improvement involves awareness, new learnings, discoveries about who we are and what makes us unique, and many insights and moments in which we see life and situations clearly. The process of continual development connects us deeply to our essence.

Everyone who embarks on a self-improvement journey would say that the process is worth it, but it is messy and painful at times. To move forward and overcome our fears, we need to look at our shadows sometimes, and this may be scary. What can we do to move forward when the game gets tough?

One of the keys to navigating growth is to remember why we are doing it and that what we are experiencing is normal, human, and an essential part of the journey.

Why is self-improvement important?

There are so many reasons to adopt a growth mindset and embrace self-improvement. I listed my own answers (although the list is far from complete):

  • One becomes aware of their flaws and strengths;
  • One discovers what is possible for him or her in life and adds meaning to their days;
  • One lives a more authentic life, moving closer to meaning and fulfillment;
  • One raises the standards — and by doing this, one inspires others to do it too;
  • One develops life principles, which provide a solid ground to stand on when hard days come;
  • One realizes how painful and difficult this process may be, and with this realization, one becomes more aware of and kinder to, the journey of others;
  • One learns to ask for help, as many things in life are more manageable with the support of another;
  • One focuses on their own journey, knowing that everyone runs at their own tempo and that nothing else lies in our control other than our own actions.

The people that choose self-improvement have powerful energy. They shine for how they are, and their brightness inspires and enlightens the path of others, too.

Self-improvement strategies


Reading is one of the most accessible and most affordable ways to expand our knowledge and our world. Books are great companions in our self-development journey, no matter what we want to improve.


Writing down thoughts helps us see them with more clarity. Keeping a journal with regularity lets us discover patterns and recurring ideas, and later on, we may decide to work on them. Another excellent tool for self-improvement is keeping a gratitude journal — that is, list every day at least a couple of things for which we are grateful. This leads to better self-awareness and self-esteem.


Affirmations are a powerful way to state our intentions and remind ourselves what we value. Daily affirmations let us deliberately focus on what we care about and bring more of it into our days.

Physical exercise

Movement keeps us fit. The body is an excellent source of information, and it constantly signals us what it needs. Taking care of the body we live in is a beautiful way of taking care of ourselves and sustaining our development. 

Choose your words

Paying attention to our expressions and words may help a lot in shaping our daily life. Being mindful of what we say and how we say it is the first step to understanding ourselves better!

Do something for the first time

Get out of your comfort zone and try out something new! One of my favorite questions to ask is, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” It reminds me to explore, like children do, and to cultivate curiosity for the unknown.

Ten practical ways to improve yourself

1. Focus on your strengths

Often people think of self-development as “covering for their weakness,” which makes the process more painful. Self-improvement can also mean developing our talents, becoming excellent at what we love to do, and having a lot of fun!

2. Declutter

The process of decluttering is the process of letting go of the parts of us (and our environments) that no longer serve us. By decluttering, we make space for new experiences to happen, and with those, new awareness and growth. The decluttering process can be liberating and allows us to clearly see which direction we want to take for our growth.

3. Ask yourself powerful questions

Questions may provide meaningful insights. How do you want to inspire others? What do you want to be remembered for? What would your older self tell you about your self-development?

There are hundreds of powerful questions. Let them find you.

4. Seek feedback

Constructive feedback is like the “boost-button:” it provides valuable insights for us to improve and serve others better. It makes us progress faster, as others reveal to us what we cannot see. Feedback enables us to make the necessary adjustments, dream more, and achieve more!

5. Work with an accountability partner

Having an accountability partner, like a friend or a coach, can support tremendously to stay on track. Accountability is a powerful mechanism that gently helps us to move forward and, in the end, reach the desired outcomes.

6. Start small

Sustainable progress is made of small, consistent steps. There is no need for giant leaps — even if they are also possible, they’re not always the best place to start. If you are hesitant, start small. Little actions generate positive loops that further create other positive loops. The change we want to see starts with us —  and with the first step.

7. Keep moving forward

Many times the biggest mistake we make is to give up on a process! If you choose to challenge yourself and improve, stick with it. Learning entails plateaus, moments of joy, and setbacks.  It’s all part of the process. Keep moving forward, one step at a time!

8. Commit to curiosity

Curiosity pushes us to research more, to question, and to aim for more profound wisdom. Curiosity arises every time we adopt the so-called “beginner’s mind,” and we try to reset all we know to see things as if it were the first time. This behavior gives us fresh insights, free from bias and from the experiences made until that moment, that in some cases could hinder instead of helping us.

9. Get moving

A healthy mind lives in a healthy body. If you are mainly focused on brain activities, find some space for physical exercise. If you are a sport-lover and always outdoor, try to find time for a bit of steadiness and introspection. The combination of brain and body (and spirit!) gives the best long-term feelings and rewards.

10. Celebrate your successes

Nelson Mandela said, “Remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” Celebrating successes is a healthy habit, often sacrificed in the name of new actions and results. To set the time on “pause” provides the opportunity to observe what one has accomplished, the progress made, the learnings, the feelings. It is such a critical moment, as it opens up space to acknowledge oneself and others and openly share one’s pride.

Best self-improvement books

As mentioned earlier, reading is a useful strategy for self-improvement work. Each of us has our favorite self-improvement books. Some, we come back to over and over, and some will change throughout life phases. These are, up to now, my favorite self-improvement reads — without any particular ranking, as each one has its own meaning and importance:

1. Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment, by George Leonard

This book clearly explains how the learning process works, the plateaus’ importance, and how to become a master in what we desire.

2. Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill

This book is an invitation to dream big, visualize what we want to become, affirm it loudly, and get ready to find allies and shape our lives. It’s impossible to describe this book’s power; one must read it and put thoughts into practice. ful of how we are giving away the most precious resource we possess.

3. Principles: Life and Work, by Ray Dalio

A masterpiece! This book entails so much wisdom, expressed in Ray Dalio’s principles, that provide a frame of reference and help us build our own.

The bottom line

Self-improvement is a transformative journey that requires embracing challenges, seeking growth opportunities, and celebrating milestones along the way. By focusing on strengths, seeking feedback, and committing to curiosity, individuals can navigate the journey towards personal fulfillment and authenticity.

Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout

When planning a workout, there’s a lot that goes into it to help you reach your goals.

As part of that effort, there’s a good chance you put a lot of thought into your pre-workout meal. But are you giving your post-workout meal the same attention? If not, it’s a good idea to do so. Consuming the right nutrients after exercise is just as important as eating before.

To help you optimize your nutrition after workouts, here is a detailed guide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Eating after a workout helps replenish glycogen stores and rebuild muscle proteins faster.
  • A combination of carbs and protein is essential for optimal post-workout recovery.
  • Timing matters: Aim to consume a post-workout meal within a few hours, ideally including a mix of simple, easily digested foods.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink water or electrolyte beverages to replace fluids lost during exercise and enhance recovery.

Eating after a workout is important

To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it’s important to learn how physical activity affects your body.

When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen — the body’s preferred fuel source, especially during high intensity workouts. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles can also be broken down and damaged.

After your workout, your body rebuilds glycogen stores and regrows those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It’s especially important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.

  • Doing this helps your body:
  • decrease muscle protein breakdown
  • increase muscle protein synthesis (growth)
  • restore glycogen stores
  • enhance recovery
Getting in the right nutrients after exercise can help you rebuild your muscle proteins and glycogen stores. It also helps stimulate new muscle growth.

Protein, carbs, and fat

Each macronutrient — protein, carbs, and fat — is involved in your body’s post-workout recovery process. That’s why it’s important to have the right mix.

The timing of your meals is also important. Sports nutrition researchers have been studying nutrient timing for more than 40 years. These days, experts rely on a mix of older and newer studies to make recommendations .

Protein helps repair and build muscle

Exercise triggers the breakdown of muscle protein. The rate at which this happens depends on the exercise and your level of training, but even well-trained athletes experience muscle-protein breakdown .

Consuming an adequate. It’s recommended to split up your protein intake across the entire day, at 3-hour intervals. So you’ll want to eat protein as part of small meals spaced throughout the day. Depending on your body weight, 20-40 grams of protein every 3 to 4 hours is recommended.

Studies have shown that ingesting 20–40 grams of protein seems to maximize the body’s ability to recover after exercise .

In addition, eating protein before exercise may decrease the amount you need to eat after without affecting recovery .

One study found that eating protein pre-workout and post-workout has a similar effect on muscle strength, hypertrophy, and body composition changes .

But if you’re specifically aiming to build muscle, eating high quality protein within the first 2 hours after a workout may stimulate your body to create the building blocks for new muscle tissue .

Carbs help with recovery

Your body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them.

The rate at which your glycogen stores are used depends on the activity. For example, endurance sports cause your body to use more glycogen than resistance training. For this reason, if you participate in endurance sports (running, swimming, etc.), you might need to consume more carbs than someone engaging in weightlifting.

Eating a high carb diet of 3.6-5.5 grams of carbs per pound (8-12 grams per kilogram [kg]) of body weight each day can help you maximize your glycogen stores .

Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time .

Therefore, consuming carbs and protein after exercise can maximize protein and glycogen synthesis .

Early studies found benefits from consuming the two in a ratio of 3 to 1 (carbs to protein). For example, that’s 40 grams of protein and 120 grams of carbs .

When rapid recovery is necessary (under 4 hours), current recommendations suggest a similar ratio. Specifically, you can help restore glycogen faster by consuming 0.4 grams of carbs per pound of body weight (0.8 grams of carbs per kg) with 0.1-0.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight (0.2-0.4 grams of protein per kg) during each hour of recovery .

Recommendations for carb intake are targeted to the needs of endurance athletes. If you’re focused on resistance training, you may need less.

What’s more, most studies on this topic involve only male athletes, so it’s unclear whether female athletes may have different intake needs.

Fat may provide some benefits

There is not enough evidence to say whether you should limit fat intake after a workout (1).

Many people think that eating fat after a workout slows digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients. While fat might slow down the absorption of your post-workout meal, it may not reduce its benefits. For example, a study showed that whole milk was more effective at promoting muscle growth after a workout than skim milk .

Moreover, another study showed that muscle glycogen synthesis was not affected even when ingesting a high fat meal (45% energy from fat) after working out .

Having some fat in your post-workout meal may not affect your recovery. But more studies are needed on this topic.


A post-workout meal with protein and carbs will enhance glycogen storage and muscle protein synthesis. Consuming a ratio of 3 to 1 (carbs to protein) is a practical way to achieve this.

The timing of your post-workout meal matters

Your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise .

For this reason, it’s recommended that you consume a combination of carbs and protein as soon as possible after exercising. In the past, experts recommended eating your post-workout meal within 45 minutes, as a delay of carb consumption by as little as 2 hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis .

However, more recent research has found that the post-exercise window to maximize the muscular response to eating protein is wider than initially thought, up to as many as several hours.

Also, if you consumed a meal rich in whole carbs and protein perhaps an hour before exercising, it’s likely that the benefits from that meal still apply after training .

Also, recovery is not just about what you consume directly after working out. When you exercise consistently, the process is ongoing. It is best to continue to eat small, well-balanced meals of carbs and protein every 3–4 hours .

Pro Tip

Eat your post-workout meal soon after exercising, ideally within a few hours. However, you can extend this period a little longer, depending on the timing of your pre-workout meal.

Foods to eat after you work out

The primary goal of your post-workout meal is to supply your body with the right nutrients for adequate recovery and maximize your workout’s benefits. Choosing easily digested foods will promote faster nutrient absorption.

The following lists contain examples of simple and easily digested foods:


  • sweet potatoes
  • chocolate milk
  • quinoa and other grains
  • fruits (such as pineapple, berries, banana, kiwi)
  • rice cakes
  • rice
  • oatmeal
  • potatoes
  • pasta
  • whole grain bread
  • Edamame


  • animal- or plant-based protein powder
  • eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • cottage cheese
  • salmon
  • chicken
  • protein bar
  • Tuna


  • avocado
  • nuts
  • nut butters
  • seeds
  • trail mix (dried fruits and nuts)

Sample post-workout meals and snacks

Combinations of the foods above can create great meals that give you all the nutrients you need after exercise.

Here are a few examples of quick and easy meals to eat after your workout:

  • grilled chicken with roasted vegetables and rice
  • egg omelet with avocado spread on whole-grain toast
  • salmon with sweet potato
  • tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread
  • tuna and crackers
  • oatmeal, whey protein, banana, and almonds
  • cottage cheese and fruits
  • pita and hummus
  • rice crackers and peanut butter
  • whole-grain toast and almond butter
  • cereal with dairy or soy milk
  • Greek yogurt, berries, and granola
  • protein shake and banana
  • quinoa bowl with sweet potatoes, berries, and pecans
  • whole grain crackers with string cheese and fruit

Make sure to drink plenty of water

It is important to drink plenty of water before and after your workout. Being properly hydrated ensures the optimal internal environment for your body to maximize results.

During exercise, you lose water and electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these after a workout can help with recovery and performance .

It’s especially important to replenish fluids if your next exercise session is within 12 hours. Depending on the intensity of your workout, water or an electrolyte drink are recommended to replenish fluid losses.


It is important to get water and electrolytes after exercise to replace what was lost during your workout.

The bottom line

Eating the right nutrients after exercise is vital for muscle repair, glycogen restoration, and overall recovery. Make sure to include a combination of carbs, protein, and fats in your post-workout meals and snacks, and don’t forget to stay hydrated for optimal results.

Volume vs. Intensity in Weight Training

In weight training, volume is the term used to describe how much work you do, such as the number of repetitions (reps) you perform of an exercise. Intensity describes the difficulty of an exercise, typically based on the amount of weight you lift.

Key Takeaways:

  • I Training intensity can be defined as intensity of load (weight on the bar) and intensity of effort (how close to failure a set feels).
  • Intensity of load is important for strength training, while intensity of effort is crucial for managing fatigue and maximizing stimulus.
  • Volume, measured in total sets or volume load, plays a key role in muscle growth and endurance.
  • Balancing intensity and volume is essential for achieving hypertrophy goals.


Training intensity can be defined in two very different ways. There is “intensity of load” and “intensity of effort”. When someone mentions training intensity, it’s important to know which definition they’re referring to. Intensity of load refers to how much weight you’re lifting, while intensity of effort refers to how intense a set feels to you or how close to failure you take that set.


Intensity of load refers to the load on the bar and it’s relation to your one-rep max, specifically what percentage of your one-rep max is on the bar. The higher the percentage of your one-rep max you have on the bar, the higher the intensity. Lifting 90% of your one-rep max, for example, is considered very high intensity. Each percentage of your one-rep max also correlates to a general rep range; naturally, the higher the percentage of your one-rep max on the bar, the less reps you will be able to perform. So lower rep ranges that use higher percentages of your one rep max are considered higher intensity than lighter rep ranges using a lower percentage.

Intensity of Load is more commonly used in strength sports where load on the bar is very important for getting the desired training stimulus. The higher your intensity of load, the stronger the strength stimulus. In other words, the heavier you train, and thus the lower your rep range, the more strength you will build.


Intensity of Effort refers to how difficult, from a subjective point of view, a set feels. There are two popular methods of rating a set’s intensity of effort. Both scales are very useful and which you use will mostly come down to preference.

RIR (Reps in Reserve) refers to how many more reps you could have done when you stop a set. If you do a set of 8 repetitions when you could have gotten 10 repetitions, this would be considered an RIR 2. The lower your RIR (the fewer reps you have left in you) the higher the intensity of effort. Most working sets will fall within an RIR of 4-0, with anything higher acting as a warm-up.

RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion) refers to how difficult you find a set to be on a scale of 1-10. The higher the rating (the more difficult the set feels), the higher the intensity of effort. Working sets will typically fall within an RPE of 6-10.

Both scales work very similarly and can sometimes be interchangeable. There are some slight nuanced differences, but ultimately they work to achieve the same goal of helping you manage training intensity.

According to research, an RIR of 4 or an RPE of 6 is the minimum intensity that is required for an adequate training stimulus. Training with a lower intensity than this can result in very little or no training stimulus at all. This holds true for both hypertrophy and strength. The higher your intensity of effort, the stronger the training stimulus, but the more fatigue you will accumulate as well.


Training volume is a measurement of how much work you do in a given time period. Most commonly volume is tracked for each workout session as well as total weekly volume. There are two common methods of defining and measuring training volume. We’ll explain both below and their applications to training.


Volume load, sometimes referred to as tonnage, is calculated as Reps x Sets x Weight. Performing 3 sets of 10 reps with 45kg on the bar would count as 1360 kg of tonnage or volume.

This method of defining volume has been around for a very long time and is commonly used in strength sports, but also has applications in hypertrophy. Volume load is best used as a tool to track long term trends of performance in individual exercises more so than tracking overall muscle group volume. Over time, you should be able to lift more weight for more repetitions and/or sets, thus your volume load should steadily increase over your lifting career for each individual exercise.

Increasing volume load slowly and steadily can also be a great way to consistently progress on your lifts to maintain the proper intensity of effort as you get stronger.

Using volume load is a great way to track training volume when lifting very heavy loads below the 5 rep range. When reps are this low, tracking volume load can be a great way to make sure you’re doing enough volume to progress. However, as repetitions become higher, there is a potentially more practical method of defining volume when you want to predict training stimulus.


A recently popular method of defining volume is the total amount of “hard sets” that you do in a given time period. A “hard set” would be defined as any set that meets the intensity of effort threshold previously mentioned. Any set that is done with a minimum intensity of RIR 4 or RPE 6 counts as a “hard set”.

This method of defining volume is much more practical to use in order to track total volume for each muscle group. It is also more closely correlated to training stimulus . That is, the more hard sets you do, the more stimulus you get for both strength and hypertrophy. Performing 5 hard sets will provide more stimulus than 3 hard sets, regardless of volume load differences.

Because you’re tracking only total sets, using this definition of volume is much easier to track and adjust. It also makes it easier to manage fatigue, since all you need to do is adjust the number of sets you perform.


Volume is key for muscle growth (hypertrophy) as well as muscular endurance. It’s one of the best ways to progress and keep seeing results in your hypertrophy goals. While performing many reps with lighter weight is good for endurance, adding additional sets and reps to your current training increases volume and progress. Add more sets or repetitions of different exercises to see further muscle growth.

Schoenfeld BJ, Contreras B, Krieger J, et al. Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men.

For muscular endurance, you can use a lighter weight with more repetitions to exhaust the muscle. You can also use this technique to build cardiovascular endurance. For example, in this case of deadlifts, a higher volume forces your heart and lungs to work harder. As you adapt to the changes in volume, your cardiovascular fitness and endurance will improve.

Adding intensity to your training can increase calorie burn and strength goals. For instance, if you take less rest between sets, your heart rate will stay elevated throughout the workout, leading to a greater calorie burn. If you boost intensity by explosively lifting the weights, you can increase strength and power.

Also, increasing the weight of a lift will build your cardiovascular system. Think about lifting something very heavy over and over again. It takes a lot of effort, and effort increases your heart rate.

It’s similar to walking up a hill vs. flat ground. Even if you go the same distance (i.e., volume), hill walking is more demanding. So your heart rate will increase much more. The same is true when lifting heavier weights: Your heart rate increases, boosting your cardiovascular endurance.


Intensity simply means “how heavy?” typically organized as the “magnitude” of weight on the bar (in pounds or kilos) or as a percentage of your one repetition maximum. If your absolute best squat for one repetition is 226kg, for example, then 170 is 75% of your 1RM. An intensity of 80% of your 1RM is greater than an intensity of 50% of 1RM.

Volume simply means “how much” or the total number of work reps performed over a given period of time. Three sets of five reps, for example, is a volume of 15 reps. Typically volume is managed for a workout and over the course of a week; an arbitrary yet useful way to organize a program since our lives are typically structured around weekly schedules.

Intensity and volume are interdependent: as intensity increases the volume that a lifter can complete must reduce. A lifter cannot, by definition, perform their one repetition personal record for multiple sets or reps. Conversely, as intensity is reduced, volume must increase to provide sufficient stress to the lifter. When peaking performance for a competition, for example, volume will typically be reduced near the meet so that intensity can be maximized for performance.


Hypertrophy has been shown to occur similarly across nearly all loading schemes, meaning intensity of load is mostly unimportant as long as you avoid the extremely heavy rep ranges (<5 reps). And just like strength, intensity of effort is very important. The closer to failure you take a set, the stronger the hypertrophic stimulus. All working sets should be done with a minimum intensity of RIR 4 or RPE 6. It is important to note that the closer to failure you take a set the more fatigue it will generate as well, so make sure to keep this in mind when training, as training to maximize growth is a balancing act between stimulus and fatigue.

In terms of training volume, hypertrophy has been shown to have a very strong dose-response relationship with the total amount of sets done, meaning you should define volume as “total hard sets” for hypertrophy focused training . The more sets you can perform and recover from, the more hypertrophy you can achieve. This also means that because you want to perform as many sets as you can to maximize hypertrophy, most of those sets should not be in the very heavy rep ranges (<5) to facilitate better recovery. It’s much easier to perform and recover from 10 sets of a moderate load than it is to recover from 10 sets of a very heavy load. Moderate to light loads will allow steady, long-term progress.

The bottom line

To optimize your training, understand the nuances of training intensity and volume. Tailor your workouts to include appropriate levels of load, effort, and volume to achieve your desired fitness outcomes.