When you're young or have a lot of time on your hands, it's easy to dedicate 5-10 hours a week to training and going to the gym; being able to complete all the workouts when you train 5-6 days a week makes it quite easy to achieve all the goals of hypertrophy.
As you get older, lack of time, growing a family, and hectic workdays make it difficult to find enough time to exercise.
The question then becomes: How much time can you spend in the gym and still maximize your progress?
To answer this question, you need to know how much training volume you need to do, per week, in order to trigger lean mass gains!
Minimum effective volume: studies
As some recent studies demonstrate, the research is clear: Higher training volumes (i.e., many sets) are superior to low-volume programs (i.e., one set) for stimulating muscle growth..
However, is the minimum set to be performed universal or subjective?
A recent analysis examined the effects of low volume (less than 5 sets per week), moderate volume (5-9 sets per week), and high volume (10+ sets per week) on hypertrophy.
It was discovered that doing at least 10 sets a week produces an almost double effect on muscle growth compared to those who carry out fewer than five. Does this make sense! As discussed previously, more volume leads to more progress.
Another interesting result, however, is that the group with the lowest number of series (less than 5) still produced progress, albeit to a lesser extent!
This is great news for anyone who struggles to find enough time between meetings, travel, and/or kids to hit the gym as much as they'd like.
Shortening sessions or reducing frequency can also have the “side benefit” of making your training more focused and intense!
Minimum training volume: how much to train?
30 minutes of intense training on a couple of exercises, 3-4 times a week, they could be exactly what you need to make effective progress!
This also allows for more recovery time, always helpful for those with hectic schedules.
There is a “volume-response” relationship between the number of sets you perform in a week and hypertrophy.
The "ideal point” between a minimalist approach and a full-throttle bodybuilding program, seems to be at least 10 sets per muscle group, per week and the desired rep range should be between 8 and 15 reps.
Not having enough hours in the day for all activities is a common complaint for anyone who would like to develop good hypertrophy, but we have seen that even short sessions can still lead to good results!
Minimum effective volume can still take you far in your training gains; the key should be to maintain consistency over an extended period!