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What is the Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle? (40 Sets?)

Enhance your muscle mass in the best way possible.

What is the perfect training volume for growing muscle? It’s a tricky question with many variables. Jeff Cavaliere offers his perspective to help you optimise your hypertrophy.

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle

“If you ever wondered what the perfect volume per week is for building muscle, then you are going to want to watch this new video. Find out how many sets and reps should be done per muscle group per week in order to see the most muscle gains. Muscle building science can be quite confusing when it comes to the topic of muscle growth and workout volume. Here we will try and decode the information to give you the best approach to succeed in your workouts.”

Volume and Intensity

“It starts with understanding the interplay between volume and intensity. First of all, intensity by definition is simply a representation of the amount of weight that you are lifting. This is often represented in one of two ways. Either as a percentage of your one rep max or as RPE, or the perceived exertion and gauge of your effort in relation to your best effort.

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle

“The volume is referring to the sets and reps that are performed.”

“Arbitrarily this tends to be discussed with one week as the time frame. This is truly arbitrary since some training splits don’t even get all of the muscles trained within that one week time. That said, the majority of splits do tend to complete their cycle of workouts within the 7 day time frame and therefore this is used as a reference point for discussion.”

Different Muscle Groups, Different Volumes

“Where things get a little more confusing and interesting at the same time is when the volume discussion starts to split out into the amount required by one muscle group vs. another. There is still a lot of conflicting information here. The bigger, broader question however of total volume on average needed for a muscle group to grow needs to be answered.”

“Currently, research points us to very differing opinions on this number. Some of the greatest strength and conditioning researchers in the world have concluded that total sets as low as 6 per muscle group can be effective in creating overload and stimulus for new muscle growth. Other, newer research indicates that more is better…a lot more. Some have argued that the ideal amount of volume for building muscle is upwards of 45 sets per muscle, per week. This seems like an insanely high amount of sets and reps performed in order to grow muscle.”

“Add to that that in these studies, each of the sets performed was taken to failure.”

Train Hard or Train Long

“As you’ll see in this video, the interplay between volume and intensity is real. I say all the time, you can either train hard or you can train long but you can’t do both. If the volume is incredibly high, then the intensity is going to have to be low in order to allow you to make gains and recover in between workouts without breaking down. On the contrary, if you train at a super high intensity, then the volume has to be low in order to prevent overtraining and muscle breakdown to a point of irreparable damage.”

Fitness benchmarks Biggest Bench Press Mistakes to Avoid Barbells vs Dumbbells for Muscle GrowthSource: Courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

High Volume Problems

“What makes the high volume side of the equation a poor approach is the amount of junk volume that comes along with it. Sure, the higher number of sets and reps performed makes it easier to ensure that you are getting adequate workout volume to stimulate new muscle tissue. That said, if the junk volume that comes along with it is also having a detrimental effect on your joint health and recovery, then it is potentially doing more harm than good.”

High Intensity Problems

Likewise, if the effort is so high that you cannot properly recover or that your workout frequency has to be spread so far apart that you are performing far fewer workouts in a calendar year for example, then you are providing yourself fewer opportunities for muscle protein synthesis. Neither place represents an ideal spot to try and make gains with in your training.”

The Solution

“The solution, as is often the case, lies in the middle. In the case of the X diagram shown in this video, that is where you want to be. Stimulating with enough sets and reps while still not delving into the area of useless reps. This is where drop sets and effective rep training (as was demonstrated in my 100 series workouts) is effective for building muscle while maximizing effort.”

Video – Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle

Learn More

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Best Way to Train the Chest for Hypertrophy (Muscle Mass)

3 Hacks for a Bigger Chest

Upper Chest Exercises Ranked (Best to Worst)

9 Best Dumbbell Chest Exercises

Muscles of the Chest and Back

The chest and back are two of the most important muscle groups in the body. They help us move our arms, breathe, stand upright, and do almost everything else we do.

The main muscles in the chest include the pectorals major, serratus anterior, rectus abdominis, latissimus dorsi (also known as lats), trapezius (also known as traps), teres major (also known as teres), triceps brachii (this is your outer arm), deltoid (this is one of three shoulder muscles) and external oblique (this is an abdominal muscle).

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle – Pectoralis Major

The pectoralis major is the largest of the three chest muscles and can be found on the anterior side of your upper torso. It’s used to move your arms toward your body, as well as for actions such as pressing weights above your head or pushing an object away from you.

The pectoralis major works in tandem with two other muscles: the serratus anterior and subscapularis. These three muscles make up what’s known as your “upper push” muscles, which are responsible for moving objects away from you using broad motions like throwing a ball or swinging a bat at something that needs to be hit away.

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle – Serratus Anterior

The serratus anterior originates on the upper eight ribs and inserts into the medial border of the scapula. It acts to protract, rotate and elevate the scapula. The innervation is via branches from spinal nerves C5 and C6 and it receives blood supply from a branch of the axillary artery (thoracoacromial branch).

Serratus anterior is a superficial muscle with three heads: superior, middle and inferior.

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle – Rectus Abdominis

The rectus abdominis, also known as the “six-pack” or “washboard” muscle, is the main muscle of your abdomen. It consists of two paired muscles that run vertically down either side of your midsection and are visible when you’re in good shape.

amrap crossfit workoutsSource: Stevie D Photography

The rectus abdominis is responsible for flexing and extending your spine, meaning that it’s crucial for lifting objects off of surfaces or bending over to pick them up.

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle – Erector Spinae

  • Origin: The erector spinae originates from the posterior surface of the sacrum and coccyx, as well as all six thoracic vertebrae.
  • Insertion: The erector spinae inserts into the lumbar and cervical vertebrae, as well as onto ligaments along the spine.
  • Action: The erector spinae is responsible for extension (moving your torso backward) of your vertebral column. This muscle is also essential in lateral flexion (bending toward either side). Because it crosses over several joints simultaneously, this powerful muscle can aid in fine-tuning movements that involve multiple joints.

Muscular endurance refers to how long someone can hold a stretch; muscular strength refers to how much weight they can lift or push against; muscular flexibility refers to how far they can stretch their body parts without injuring themselves or tearing their muscles or tendons beyond what they are capable of normally being stretched before injury occurs

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle – Trapezius

The trapezius is a flat, diamond-shaped muscle that extends from the base of the skull to the scapula. It helps with moving your scapula and stabilizing your shoulders. The trapezius also helps with breathing by raising and lowering your ribs during respiration.

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle – Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi, or lats, is a large muscle that extends from the lower back to the humerus (upper arm bone). It’s an important muscle for arm movements and stabilising the shoulder joint. It can be strengthened by doing pull ups.

To work this muscle out of your back, you need to pull your arms down against some resistance. Doing so also engages other muscles in your body which you may not even know about! For example, when we do a chin up or pull-up exercise our lats are working hard to help us lift ourselves up. They are also working with other muscles such as triceps brachii (back of forearm) and biceps brachii (front of forearm).

So, if you want bigger arms then consider adding chin ups into your workout routine because they will definitely help!

Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle – Teres Major

The teres major is a muscle of the upper back, located between the posterior deltoid and latissimus dorsi. It is part of the rotator cuff, along with the supraspinatus, infraspinatus and subscapularis.

The teres major originates from two places:

  • A broad tendon at the lateral border of your scapula (your shoulder blade), where it attaches to all three heads of your triceps brachii muscle
  • The inferior angle of your scapula

Triceps Brachii

The triceps brachii is a large muscle in the back of the upper arm. It makes up three-quarters of your upper arm, and it’s responsible for extending your forearm (straightening it out). This is why you feel it in your arms when you do pushups, pullups or other exercises that involve extending your forearms.

The triceps are also known as “three-headed,” because they originate from three different places along its length: one head on top of each humerus (upper arm bone) and one at midshaft on each humerus. These three heads unite into one tendon at their lower ends before inserting onto the olecranon process—the pointy part where tip meets shaft—of the ulna (one of two bones in your forearm).


The deltoid muscle is a large triangular muscle that covers the shoulder. The deltoid muscle is composed of three parts: anterior, posterior and lateral.

The anterior portion originates on the front of your upper arm and inserts into your shoulder blade.

The posterior portion originates on your upper back and inserts into your top end of your humerus (upper arm bone).

The lateral part originates in between these two portions and inserts into the side of your humerus.

The deltoid helps to raise the arm, as well as stabilize it when you reach forward or rotate your arms inwardly toward each other. All three parts work together to help raise the arm from an extended position outwardly toward an outstretched position at shoulder height.

External Oblique

The external oblique is a flat, triangular muscle that runs along the side of the body. It originates at the lower eight ribs and inserts at the iliac crest (top of hip bone). The external oblique helps to flex the trunk, rotate it to either side and compress the abdomen.

The muscles of the chest and back help us move our arms, breathe, and Function

The muscles of the chest and back assist in many functions, including posture, breathing, and arm movement.

Conclusion – Perfect Training Volume for Growing Muscle

We hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of the muscles of the chest and back and are excited to dive into more detail in your own training.

Combine this anatomical knowledge with the information above and create the most optimal and effective program for you.

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