“Any training you do that takes up time and energy but has no benefit for muscle and strength gain”.
3 most common forms of junk volume
1. Excessive volume per workout
Say you perform a hard set of 8-10 reps where you almost go to failure. This is effective training volume. This will cause plenty of mechanical tension and cause a training stimulus.
If you perform 2 hard sets or even 3 hard sets this will be effective at eliciting muscle growth.
If you performed 10 sets. Would that stimulate more muscle growth?
The answer is no. This is junk volume.
The question is, when does it become junk volume and stop recovery.
Below is a study by James Krieger.
It’s a meta analysis of 9 separate studies looking at the impact of adding more sets per muscle group per training session
(PLEASE REFER TO GRAPH AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE)
Every set added up to 6 sets per muscle group per training session would increase muscle growth.
After that every set would actually reduce the amount of muscle growth.
If you’re doing any extra sets after 6-8 these are just hampering recovery.
Link to study below
A good way to structure this would be to do 2 exercises with 3 hard working sets i.e. within 1-2 reps of failure or maybe 3 exercises with 2 hard working sets.
So 6 total working sets per muscle group.
Some muscle groups such as back, glutes and quads can maybe handle a little more volume 10-12 working sets.
If you are more advanced you can do more working sets but need to be split across different sessions.
For example if you want to do 12 working sets for chest. It would be more effective to split it across two sessions.
6 working sets per session for chest.
If you did all 12 working sets in one session, 6 of these sets will not elicit more muscle growth they would impact recovery i.e. “junk volume”
For immediate to advanced lifters who can handle more work sets a great way to split your training is push, pull, legs and repeat that twice a week.
This way you will get more quality sets by splitting you work sets of reach muscle group across 2 sessions.
2. Easy Sets
A study was done on lifters where they were asked to pick a weight they would use for 10 reps in the gym.
Then asked to do as many reps as possible at that weight
22% performed 10-12 reps so had 0-2 reps in reserve.
31% performed 10-15 reps so had 3-5 reps in reserve
47% performed 16-20 reps so had 6-10 reps on reserve.
Effective hypertrophy work is within 0-3 reps of failure.
This means people are picking a weight for their working sets that is too light for maximal muscle growth. i.e. junk volume
A great way is find a weight that you can do 12-14 reps if you did as many reps as possible.
Then perform this for 3 working sets of 10 reps this leaves you with 2 reps in reserve which is perfect for building muscle. i.e. Quality work sets
3. Burn Out Sets
40-50 rep sets at 20% of your 1 rep max is not heavy enough to create enough mechanical tension to build muscle.
All it does is place a huge demand on recovery and stops you progressing.
Doing these “burn out” sets are junk volume.
They do nothing to help you build muscle and only hinder recovery.
To build muscle you must perform 6- 8 working sets per muscle group per session
Advanced lifters can do more working sets but this should be split across sessions
Lift within a range of 6-15 reps within 0-2 reps of failure
Burn out sets DO NOT help you build more muscle.