The Magic Number Of Sets Per Exercise?

Dr. Mike Israetel coined the term "Maximal Recoverable Volume" or MRV. It refers to the most amount of work (measured in hard work sets) that you can do and still benefit from. MRVs vary from person to person and from muscle to muscle. They also vary according to your training experience and other factors.

As important as it is to know your personal MRV, it's equally important to understand that you can't train at MRV all the time. If you trained at MRV for a full week, for example, you'd need to deload the next week. This means that you'd spend half your training time deloading, which obviously isn't optimal.

Instead, using a 4-week mesocycle for this example, you might train at MEV (Minimal Effective Volume) for one week. Think of MEV as the least amount of work required to grow.

Then, on week two, you'd throttle things up to Maximum Adaptive Volume (MAV). That's the amount of work required to make your best gains. Next, on week three, you'd shift to MRV, and then finally, deload on week four.

Now let's cut out all the dorky acronyms. Here's what that would look like in real life:

  • Week 1: Do 3-4 work sets per muscle per workout.
  • Week 2: Do 4-5 work sets per muscle per workout.
  • Week 3: Do 5-6 work sets per muscle per workout.
  • Week 4: Deload. Keep the weights heavy but do only half the work sets you did on week 3.

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