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Powerlifting: What is volume [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Aug 6, 2019 9:30:00 AM

Powerlifting what is volume

Powerlifting: What is Volume

Volume is the total amount of weight lifted over a certain period of time. If you shorten the timeframe to lift the same weight or increase the total weight lifted over the same timeframe you have increased the volume. 

What is your why 

Before we go into the details of what is Volume in powerlifting, let me ask you a couple of questions: 
  • Why do you want to powerlift?
  • Why do you want to get stronger? 
  • What happens when you do?
  • What happens if you don’t?
These questions will make the difference between your success and failure. Research shows that the most successful people write down their goals and reflect on them before they act. So get out a pen and paper and start thinking. Many people go about their lives like this: 
  • What do I want 
  • How do I get it 
  • Why do I want it 
This is a good recipe to get nowhere. What you want changes hundreds of times a day. If you make this the center of attention you will run in a hundred directions and never reach a goal. Your resources will be spread thin and time scattered between too many activities. Something interesting happens when you flip these questions on their head: 
  • Why do you want something 
  • How do you get it 
  • What needs to be done 
This way your innermost desires will occupy your mind on a regular basis. The result will be more coherent thinking and purpose. Your thoughts and actions will become more connected. As a result, success will be more likely to come to you. If you want to know how this works on a psychological basis read Daniel Kahneman's thinking fast and slow. Simon Sineks TED talk on the golden circle will change your life. 
A first step can be to track your days with purpose. One of the most impactful changes in my life was to start using the self journal mal from best self. A highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get serious with achieving their goals. 


Powerlifting is the sport of the total. Your goal is to accumulate as much weight lifted as possible out of three lifts. These three lifts are the bench press, squat, and deadlift. For each lift, you have three attempts. The best attempt for each lift will be counted towards your total. 
A big difference to lifting in the gym is that you will get judged. Three referees observe your lifts from different angles. They decide whether you have performed them according to the standards of the federation you compete in. Two out of three judges have to agree so that your lift counts. 
A total usually splits 20/40/40% between the three lifts. The bench press usually contributes 20% of a total while the squat and deadlift contribute 40% each. This insight is useful for your training. It will help you more in powerlifting to have strong legs than strong arms. 
Powerlifting favors getting big. The bigger and denser you are for your weight class the more you can lift. That is just physics. Volume can help to get you bigger and stronger. 

Volume in powerlifting

Volume in powerlifting or in weightlifting is a function of four variables 
Sessions x sets x repetitions x intensity 
In this order of priority. When powerlifters speak of volume they mean the overall weight lifted over a certain amount of time. The more weight is lifted in a shorter amount or the same amount of time, the higher the volume. 
What many people get wrong in the beginning is that they focus mainly on intensity. Intensity means howmuchh weight is in the bar. How much you can move in one repetition is a result of all the other factors. It is not the other way around. 
Still, the sport of powerlifting is all about the one repetition maximum. So intensity does matter. This is why it is important to understand how volume is built to result in a higher one repetition maximum. 


Sessions are training sessions inn the gym. This means how many times a week you train. It will be hard for someone who trains two times a week to get more volume and n than someone who goes to the gym six times a week. Therefore this is the most important variable to create volume. 
Consistency and frequency builds volume. If you want to become good at powerlifting prepare to train Five times a day for a decade. 


Sets refers to how many times you repeat the same exercise for a certain amount of repetitions. Depending on your program there are one to five minutes of rest between sets. A set usually has 2 to 12 repetitions in it depending on your program.


Repetitions refers to how many times you lift the weight before you take a rest. The time from starting an exercise I tilntaking a rest is a set. Sets which are higher in repetitions are usually lower in intensity while sets which are lower in rep count are higher in intensity. 


Intensity refers to how much weight is on the bar in relation to your one repetition maximum. The lower the percentage of weight against your one rep max, the lower the intensity. The nearer you get to your one repetition maximum the higher your intensity. 

Maximum recoverable volume 

You can not increase volume indefinitely. At some point, your body will break. This is where maximum recoverable volume comes in. Juggernaut Training Systems are a string promoter of this concept. Based on experience and math they calculate the maximum of volume a lifter can sustain for a certain period of time. This is used to push the lifter to the optimum training result without injuring him or her. 

Powerlifting: what is Volume 

Volume is the total amount of weight you lift over a certain amount of time. If you lift the same weight in a shorter time or more weight in the same amount if time you have increased your volume. Generally the more volume you put in to your lifting, the stronger you become. This is why it is such an important concept for the sport of powerlifting

Topics: Powerlifting