How is the Amount of Weight Carried Related to the Number of sets and Volume

So today we will tackle one of the very basic laws of weight lifting and conditioning which most lifters tend to overlook; the relationship between the volume, number of sets and the amount of weight carried.

 Basically things must go like this:


With more weight=less reps (less volume)

you should do: more sets


With lesser weight= more reps (more volume)

you should do: less sets

 So I hope that above is clear enough to eliminate any confusion.

About intensity: I would just like to share something from Sloan’s perspective– it is that power-lifters actually define intensity as the amount of weight carried or the closer a set is to their 1 Rep max effort=the greater the intensity of that set. That means a lighter weight means lower intensity- which is typically the case even in bodybuilding if you haven’t noticed.

What is very interesting about that is that their definition of intensity is evidently more quantifiable than that of most bodybuilders- but if one would take a look at High intensity training- its main principle is not to do many reps with many sets therefore light weights and high intensity cannot really go together in one sentence even for a bodybuilder’s perspective (except in the last sets of drop sets where you would peel off the plates each time you reach failure within a set).

And if one can take a look high intensity tools are only designed to add some twist or to add some extra blast into sets where you carry heavier weights wherein it would result in as much muscle damage as possible.

Therefore whatever definition you look into; Bodybuilding or Power-lifting- high intensity would still involve using heavier weights the only difference between bodybuilders and power lifters is the way each design their high-intensity regimens.

Therefore we can safely tell that higher intensity requires more sets and lower intensity can be sufficed by lower sets since you would be doing more reps.

 Note: Ironthumb method is not based upon the HIT trainings that you might have read somewhere. Here we only include the HIT techniques as mere TOOLS which we add onto the training sets.

There are guys out there who think you must do lighter weights with more sets since- you know; they’re lighter and seem easier. That is just plain wrong.

Therefore you might not want to do 15-20 reps with 5 sets. That could already make you look like a marathon runner and that is not what we are training for. The only time you can train with intensely high reps is when you are trying to break a rut and decide some century sets- basically doing ten reps of a single move until you reach a hundred reps.

 So how do you modify your training regimen based upon that principle?

If you are following our basic program for beginners it already adheres to this principle- the basic program would fall into your “midrange” of sets and intensity. But in doing anything else than that always do more sets if you are adding weight.

For example if you are going to do 8-12 reps; 3 to 4 sets would suffice. But if you are going to do it with your 5 rep max- then you must do up to 5 sets. With one Rep max you can even do up to 7 sets for the same move.

So if you are training and lifting for strength your program could look like this for a body part:



15 reps for 1 set


8 reps for 2 sets


5 reps for 3 sets


Finally 3 reps for 5 sets 

power lifting squats

The strength training programs can be incorporated to add variety to your bodybuilding program. I even recommend that you do this type of training for an entire month or two then go back to your typical bodybuilding program.

So until next time! ¡Hasta la vista! And Eat your eggs, people!

A-Lifter- Don't forget to leave your comment/feedback below.  If this article was helpful, I am sure our book Real Talk Muscle will help you even more in your quest for muscle gain. Check it out you can read the first few chapters as well.
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