High Intensity vs High Volume Training: Which is Best for You?

What is the difference between high intensity vs high volume training?

Whether to prioritize high intensity or high volume training is a critical choice for your fitness results. This guide breaks down the high intensity vs high volume debate, presenting the facts you need to tailor your workouts effectively. Find out which method is best suited for fat loss, muscle gain, or both, based on scientific insights and practical advice.

Key Takeaways:

  • High Intensity Training (HIT) prioritizes short, vigorous exercise sessions to achieve rapid strength improvements and fat loss, suitable for those with limited time and high fitness levels.
  • High Volume Training (HVT) employs multiple sets and repetitions at moderate intensity to stimulate muscle growth, better suited for individuals aiming to increase muscle mass with greater time investment.
  • Both HIT and HVT are effective for fat loss and muscle gain, but the balance between intensity, volume, and recovery must be managed to avoid overtraining and injury, while a personal trainer can provide tailored guidance to optimize results.

Understanding High Intensity Training (HIT): Is It Right for You?

muscular failure to stimulate muscle growth
Executing a neck press as part of a high intensity training routine

High Intensity Training (HIT) is a training style that has gained popularity among fitness enthusiasts aiming for quick improvements in strength and reduction in body fat. This approach focuses on short yet vigorous exercise sessions that drive muscles to temporary failure, stimulating effective muscle growth.

However, maximizing the benefits of this training style depends on several factors, including the structure of a HIT workout, its underlying key principles, and the techniques used to achieve optimal results.

Key Principles of High Intensity Training Routines

The core of HIT lies in its unique principles. A typical HIT routine involves:

  • A singular set of rigorous strength training exercise for every muscle group, intended to achieve momentary muscle failure
  • Progressive overload
  • Compound multi-joint exercises with free weights
  • Integration of core training

Reaching a state of momentary muscular failure, where muscles are pushed to their limit and achieve a state of exhaustion, is a key aspect of HIT. This intense level of exertion promotes muscle strength development and maximizes the engagement of motor units and muscle fibers during the workout.

Benefits of High Intensity Workouts for Fat Loss and Strength

But why should you choose HIT over other training styles? One of the most attractive benefits of HIT workouts is their ability to facilitate rapid strength improvements, muscle adaptation, and heightened calorie expenditure, making them efficacious for fat reduction. HIT works for fat loss and strength gain through mechanisms such as increased calorie burning, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased resting fat oxidation.

Moreover, HIT can result in a significant increase in muscle strength after just 3 weeks of training, making it a highly effective fitness tool.

Ideal Candidates for High Intensity Training (HIT)

HIT is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It is well-suited for individuals with time constraints, those desiring swift outcomes, and those capable of managing rigorous workout sessions.

However, before embarking on HIT, it is vital to consider several factors. While HIT is accessible to individuals at various fitness levels, the intensity and duration of workouts should be adjusted to suit individual capabilities. It’s also essential to note that HIT may not be suitable for individuals who are older or have heart disease, underlining the importance of consulting with a doctor before attempting HIT.

High Intensity Training Techniques for Optimal Results

Achieving optimal results with HIT requires the incorporation of certain techniques. Advanced training techniques such as drop sets and supersets can be highly beneficial, and the maintenance of proper form is essential to minimize the risk of injury and to ensure effective targeting of the intended muscle groups.

Additionally, recovery plays a significant role in HIT. It facilitates muscle repair and growth, ultimately leading to enhanced strength. Ensuring sufficient rest and recovery is vital in preventing overtraining and optimizing performance.

A Sample HIT Workout: Maximizing Efficiency with Minimal Time

For individuals looking to gain muscle and experience more muscle growth through muscle building activities, High-Intensity Training (HIT) offers a potent mix of resistance training with low volume but high effort. Each training session is designed to take your muscle group to failure, thereby promoting hypertrophy and maximal strength. Here’s a detailed example of a HIT workout that can help you get into the best shape:

Monday (Lower Body Focus)

  • Squats: 1 set of 8-10 reps to failure. Choose more weight than a moderate load to challenge your muscles.
  • Leg Press: 1 set of 10-12 reps to failure, focusing on pushing through with maximal power.

Wednesday (Upper Body Focus)

  • Bench Press: 1 set of 6-8 reps to failure, lifting a given load that represents the maximum number you can handle.
  • Pull-Ups: 1 set to failure, ensuring quality over quantity to stimulate muscular endurance and increased strength.

Friday (Full Body Focus)

  • Deadlifts: 1 set of 4-6 reps to failure for comprehensive bodybuilding.
  • Military Press: 1 set of 8-10 reps to failure to target the upper body and build power.

Each week, aim to lift heavier weights or increase the reps in a single set, maintaining the effectiveness of the workout. Ensure each session is complete with proper warm-up and cool-down to prevent injury. Remember, HIT is about pushing to your limits with each set and reps, ensuring you leave the gym having given your all to achieve hypertrophy and the best shape of your life.

Understanding Power of High Volume Training (HVT): Maximizing Muscle Growth

Woman performing volume training for building muscle
Determined and focused: A woman pushing her limits with a high volume training session

While High Intensity workouts focuses on pushing your limits in short, intense workouts, High Volume Training (HVT) takes a different approach. HVT is centered around performing multiple sets and repetitions targeting specific muscle groups to optimize muscle growth. It emphasizes moderate intensity over an extended duration, as opposed to maximum intensity for a brief period.

To gain a deeper understanding of high training volume, we will explore its key principles, benefits, ideal candidates, and the techniques that yield optimal results.

Key Principles of High Volume Training Routines

The essence of high training volume routines lies in their unique principles. These routines involve progressive weight increases, targeting specific muscle groups in weekly sessions. The primary factor influencing muscle growth is volume, and higher volume training can potentially contribute to hypertrophy through various mechanisms such as:

  • Mechanical Tension
  • Metabolic Stress
  • Muscle Damage
  • Cell Swelling

In HVT, mechanical tension is of utmost importance. It entails:

  • lifting heavier weights for a specific number of repetitions
  • increasing the tension exerted on the muscle during training
  • leading to greater opposing forces, which are key to muscle growth.

Benefits of High Intensity Workouts for Fat Loss and Strength

HVT workouts, which involve weight training, have been shown to result in substantial muscle growth and strength gains, as evidenced by a multitude of scientific studies on building muscle. This is where muscle growth occurs, ultimately helping to achieve more muscle growth and maximize muscle growth through muscle hypertrophy. These workouts effectively stimulate muscle growth.

HVT contributes to muscle growth and strength gains by:

  • Producing faster and greater strength gains compared to lower-volume training
  • Accelerating muscle growth and strength gains in the short term
  • Allowing an increase in muscle strength and hypertrophy
  • Providing a larger dose of training to stimulate muscle fibers to increase in size.

Ideal Candidates for High Volume Training (HVT)

HVT is best suited for individuals with more time, those desiring to increase muscle mass, and those who prefer a flexible training approach. However, similar to HIT, several factors should be considered before commencing HVT.

Ideal candidates for HVT often consist of advanced trainees with the goal of increasing muscle mass and enhancing fat loss, such as athletes and bodybuilders aiming to get bigger and stronger.

High Volume Training Techniques for The Best Results

Getting the best results from HVT requires the integration of certain techniques. These include periodization, progressive overload, and emphasis on proper form and recovery.

Periodization in high volume training involves breaking down a training program into smaller, progressive stages with varying phases of volume and intensity. Progressive overload plays a crucial role in achieving optimal results in HVT by gradually intensifying the workout, either through lifting heavier weights or extending the duration of the session.

Example of a HVT plan: A Proven Protocol for Increased Muscle Size

High Volume Training (HVT) is a powerful method that leverages the principle of metabolic stress to induce muscle hypertrophy. This training regimen focuses on targeting each muscle group with a high volume of work—more reps and sets—while maintaining the quality and measured effort in each training session. Especially popular among athletes, bodybuilders, and those who love weightlifting, HVT is designed to challenge muscular endurance and enhance muscle growth through rigorous resistance training programs. 

Monday – Chest and Back

  • Bench Press: 4 sets of 12 reps. Focus on lifting weights that create metabolic stress and promote muscle growth.
  • Lat Pulldown: 4 sets of 12 reps. Each set should be to near failure, emphasizing quality and effort.
  • Incline Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 15 reps. Aim for more reps to increase training volume for chest muscle groups.

Wednesday – Legs

  • Squats: 5 sets of 10 reps. This high volume workout will build muscle size and muscular endurance.
  • Leg Press: 4 sets of 15 reps. Adjust the weight to ensure complete sets while maintaining form.
  • Calf Raises: 4 sets of 20 reps. A higher rep range for focused muscle growth in the lower legs.

Friday – Shoulders and Arms

  • Military Press: 4 sets of 12 reps. Train with weights that challenge your muscle groups to gain muscle.
  • Bicep Curls: 3 sets of 15 reps. Focus on controlled lifts to maximize hypertrophy.
  • Tricep Dips: 3 sets of 15 reps. High reps and controlled effort ensure effective muscle building.

General Rule:

  • Each training session in the gym should be measured for progress.
  • Increase weight gradually week by week to ensure more muscle growth.
  • Focus on resistance training with quality over quantity.
  • Ensure muscle groups are targeted for balanced bodybuilding and weightlifting.

This is an example of a HVT program that’s ideal for athletes and those dedicated to bodybuilding, as it uses high volume workouts and more reps to stimulate increased muscle size and muscular endurance.


Comparing High Intensity and High Volume Training: Tailoring Your Fitness Plan

progressive overload weight training
Comparison of high intensity and high volume training

Although choosing between HIT and HVT might appear challenging, a clear understanding of the unique benefits of each style can assist in tailoring your fitness plan to suit your specific goals, be it fat loss, muscle gain, or a combination of both.

Fat Loss Dynamics: High Intensity vs. High Volume Training

When it comes to fat loss, both HIT and HVT can be effective. However, HIT generally results in a higher calorie burn within a shorter time frame, enabling significant calorie expenditure in a shorter timeframe, which is more conducive to fat loss when contrasted with traditional High Volume Training.

The potential for faster fat loss results with HIT is attributed to its higher calorie burn rate. This is in contrast to HVT, which typically involves exercises like Incline Barbell Bench Press, Dumbbell Bench Press, and other high intensity strength exercises usually performed in the 40-70% intensity range.

Muscle Gain Outcomes: Analyzing High Intensity and High Volume Methods

In terms of muscle gain, both HIT and HVT can yield notable improvements. However, High Volume Training may be more advantageous for muscle mass building due to its higher volume and prolonged time under tension.

Both High Intensity Training and High Volume Training can yield notable improvements in muscle gain. Training with High Intensity entails short, vigorous exercise sessions, while High Volume Training involves frequent, multiple sets and exercises for each muscle group.

Balancing Intensity and Volume for Sustainable Fitness

Finding the ideal workout frequency for a balanced resistance training
Finding the ideal workout frequency for balanced training

As we’ve seen, both intensity and volume play crucial roles in achieving fitness goals. Therefore, maintaining a balance between intensity and volume in training is significant as it enables optimal strength enhancement and muscle growth, with each contributing to different aspects of fitness development.

However, an imbalance in intensity and volume during workouts can lead to:

  • Overtraining
  • Decreased performance
  • Extended muscle soreness
  • Mood disturbances
  • Increased risk of injury

Therefore, it’s essential to achieve a harmonious balance between these two elements in a fitness regimen.

Workout Frequency: Finding Your Ideal Training Cadence

Workout frequency isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. The optimal frequency depends on your personal goals, preferences, and lifestyle, where maintaining a balance between intensity, volume, and recovery is crucial.

For instance, individuals following HIT training typically engage in training sessions two to three times per week, while those practicing High Volume Training (HVT) may start with two sessions per week, focusing on total body workouts three to four days per week.

Making the Right Choice: How a Personal Trainer Can Help

Choosing between HIT and HVT can seem overwhelming, particularly without expert guidance. This is where a personal trainer comes in. A personal trainer can help you navigate the maze of fitness information, guiding you through setting goals, creating tailored workouts, and providing professional support.

The Role of a Personal Trainer in Your Fitness Journey

Personal trainers play a crucial role in your fitness journey, including aspects of sports med phys fitness. They offer customized plans, injury prevention, and progress tracking.

A personal trainer’s role in a client’s fitness journey encompasses:

  • Guiding them towards healthier habits
  • Establishing and pursuing fitness goals
  • Designing safe and efficient exercise programs
  • Offering motivation, accountability, and ongoing support.

Setting Training Goals and Matching Workouts with Professional Guidance

Working with a personal trainer ensures your workouts are matched to your goals, maximizing results and minimizing the risk of injury.

To make an informed decision on whether High-Intensity Training (HIT) or High-Volume Training (HVT) is more suitable for someone, a personal trainer would need to know the following items about the individual:

Fitness Goals: Understanding if the person is aiming for strength, endurance, muscle growth, fat loss, etc.

Current Fitness Level: Assessing their current strength, conditioning, and overall fitness to tailor the intensity and volume.

Health and Medical History: Any past or present injuries, conditions, or illnesses that could affect training.

Exercise Experience: How long they have been training and their familiarity with different types of workouts.

Availability and Time Commitment: How much time they can consistently dedicate to training sessions.

Recovery Ability: How well they recover from intense workouts, which is crucial for program frequency and intensity.

Equipment Access: The availability of equipment could determine the feasibility of certain exercises, especially for HVT.

Diet and Nutrition: Nutritional habits that can support or hinder their training progress.

Personal Preferences: Enjoyment of certain types of training can affect adherence to the program.

Lifestyle Factors: Other lifestyle factors such as stress, sleep, and job demands that can influence recovery and performance.

With this information, a personal trainer can create a personalized workout plan that aligns with the individual’s needs and goals.

Conclusion: Integrating High Intensity and High Volume Training into Your Lifestyle

Ultimately, the choice between HIT and HVT should be based not only on your fitness goals but also on your lifestyle. Integrating both high intensity and high volume training into your lifestyle can lead to a balanced approach to fitness, promoting overall health and well-being.

Final Thoughts: Embracing a Balanced Approach to Fitness

As we conclude our examination of HIT and HVT, it becomes evident that adopting a balanced fitness approach, including cardiovascular fitness, is vital for sustainable progress. This balanced approach not only prevents plateaus but also minimizes the risk of injury.

A balanced approach to fitness can decrease the likelihood of injury by:

  • Enhancing balance and coordination
  • Preparing muscles through warm-up exercises to lower the risk of injury during physical activities
  • Fortifying core muscles to avert injury.

Next Steps: How to Get Started with a Personal Trainer

Ready to take the next step in your fitness journey? Contact Better Body Coaching for tailored advice and guidance on incorporating HIT and HVT into your fitness routine.

Through Better Body Coaching, you can avail of one-on-one private training, small group training, online coaching, and a host of other services designed to help you navigate your fitness journey.


In summary, both High Intensity Training and High Volume Training have their unique merits and can contribute to achieving your fitness goals. While HIT is more time-efficient and can lead to rapid strength gains and fat loss, HVT may be more effective for building muscle mass due to its higher volume and prolonged time under tension.

Whether you lean towards HIT, HVT, or a combination of both, the key to sustainable fitness lies in finding a balance that suits your unique needs and lifestyle. And with the guidance and support of a personal trainer, you can shape a fitness plan that not only meets your goals but also enriches your overall health and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

The key factor for strength gains is intensity, with greater benefits achieved from high loads compared to low loads. Therefore, intensity is considered better than volume for strength training.

Yes, you can combine high volume and high-intensity training, but it’s important to be cautious and mindful of your body’s recovery limits. It’s best to alternate between the two training styles for an effective and diverse workout plan.

Yes, high-intensity low volume training can promote muscle growth by challenging muscles with heavier weights. This form of training can lead to hypertrophy.

High Intensity Training (HIT) involves short, intense workouts to achieve rapid strength gains and fat loss, while High Volume Training (HVT) focuses on specific muscle groups to maximize muscle growth. HVT involves more sets and repetitions compared to HIT.

A personal trainer can provide well-founded suggestions on whether HIT or HVT would be better suited for your fitness goals and guide you through creating tailored workouts. Their professional support can help you navigate the maze of fitness information and make an informed decision.

  • If your goal is to build larger, more pronounced glutes, high volume training might be more beneficial.
  • If you are aiming to increase the strength and power of your glutes, high intensity training is likely more appropriate.
  • It’s important to remember that muscle growth (hypertrophy) occurs with both types of training, but the stimuli are different.
  • For well-rounded development, incorporating a mix of both high volume and high intensity workouts over time can be effective.
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