Why you might be training ineffectively – Part 2

‘Junk volume’

Last week we spoke about a couple of reasons as to why a lack of rest might hinder your ability to produce good results in the gym. This week we continue exploring factors as to why your progress might have stagnated – diving into the world of ‘junk volume’.

In the words of the wise philosopher Confucius: “The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither” 

This rhetoric certainly applies in the gym, we see it all the time. People who are absolutely wasted and just smashed out a hard conditioning session, who then continue on to attempt hard strength work or power work. The reality is, you’re either doing both fairly averagely, or one well and one quite poorly. 

Chasing two rabbits at once is what we call ‘junk volume’. Trying to do massive lifts or massive jumps when you’re under fatigue is not optimal.

We see this all too often in some CrossFit programming. No clear intention of what the session is looking to improve, what adaptation is the goal and it just becomes a sweaty soup of meaningless fatigue.

The load/intensity will be lower, therefore the adaptation will be lower. According to Marchetti et al (2013), they observed that ‘both unilateral and bilateral fatigue affected the performance of maximal voluntary jumping and standing tasks. We concluded that unilateral neuromuscular fatigue affects both postural and power tasks negatively.’

So there’s a chance you won’t get faster or stronger, just more tired. If your goal is to not get better and just get tired while increasing the risk of technical breakdown on lifts, then by all means – go for broke!

But for the majority of people who want to improve their strength and fitness, it’s often more effective to prioritise certain elements in your training regime. For (an extreme) example, if you want to do a heavy deadlift test, probably don’t run a 1.2km time trial just before it.

On the flip side of that coin, If you want to run a 1.2km time trial, probably don’t cook yourself with heavy deadlifts beforehand.

If you want to jump higher and produce more powerful efforts, don’t do power exercises (olympic lifts/box jumps etc) when you are so tired that you can barely stand up. 

So the next time you hear yourself asking “but I’m doing so much, how come I’m not getting any stronger?”.

Just remember that more is not always better.

Quality trumps quantity.

Prioritise what you want to get better at. Ensure you haven’t fallen into the ‘junk volume’ trap, otherwise it may hinder your progress and leave you frustrated. 

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