What are Volt training blocks?

Volt Training Blocks

The goal of this article is to provide some clarity and additional information about the different components in the Volt calendar. If you are a current Volt user, this should shed some light on the philosophy behind our periodized programming. And if you are a prospective Volt user, this will give you a good idea of what you can expect from your customized, year-long, sport-specific programs.

Terms

First, it’s helpful to define some of the terms you’ll see in your volt training.

Loading — “Loading” refers to the weight prescribed for a set of a movement, expressed as a percentage of an athlete’s estimated one-rep maximum, or e1RM. Athletes have a unique e1RM for every movement, which Volt automatically tracks and calibrates for you in the app.

e1RM — “e1RM” stands for Estimated One-Rep Maximum, which refers to the estimated maximum amount of weight that an athlete can lift for a given movement.

Volume — “Volume” refers to the total work done over a group of sets, or an entire workout. You can think of volume as loading x reps x sets, or total tonnage lifted.

Block — Volt training is organized into training “blocks” of focused adaptation, like Hypertrophy (muscle growth). Each training block has an inherent “scheme,” defined below, which distinguishes it from other blocks.

Scheme — The “scheme” of a training block refers to the specific underlying loading x reps x sets data behind a movement. Each block scheme produces slightly different physiological adaptations to training, as described in the block descriptions below.

The Blocks

Hypertrophy (HYP)

  • Overall Volume: High
  • Scheme: 4 sets of 6-12 reps
  • Loading: 57.5% - 77.5% of e1RM

*Schemes and loading are general representations of protocols for most primary compound movements and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed

The hypertrophy block will focus on building new lean muscle tissue, improving neuromuscular efficiency, and increasing the body’s capacity to gain strength. Especially common early in the Preparatory phase, training in the hypertrophy block will place a significant physiological demand on the body, likely resulting in delayed onset muscle soreness and acute performance decrease. However, adaptations to this high level of stress application typically occur quite quickly, and the combination of increased muscle fiber size and improved neuromuscular efficiency will set athletes up for future success and long-term athletic development.

Hypertrophy is typically not programmed during the Competitive Phase (in-season) because of the significant amount of physiological stress and fatigue that it places on the body. 

Strength Capacity (STC)

  • Overall Volume: High
  • Scheme: 5 sets of 4-6 reps
  • Loading: 65% - 85% of e1RM

*Schemes and loading are general representations of training protocols for most primary compound movements and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed

Slightly lower in overall volume but with higher loading percentages than Hypertrophy, this block is designed to help athletes establish a strength foundation in key structural compound lifts.

During Strength Capacity, working rep ranges often stay at around 5 reps. This provides enough time under tension to maximize the number of muscle fibers recruited during any given movement while keeping the load high enough to stimulate a strength response. 

The Strength Capacity block will subject athletes to a significant amount of fatigue—but it is an essential bridge from the high-volume demand of Hypertrophy to the high-load demand of the Strength block. For this reason, Strength Capacity is not commonly programmed in-season.

 Strength (STR)

  • Overall Volume: Moderately High
  • Scheme: 5 sets of 3-5 reps
  • Loading: 65% - 90% of e1RM

 *Schemes and loading are general representations of training protocols for most primary compound movements and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed

The Strength block is when lifts start to get heavy. The Strength block develops the potential for maximum recruitment of muscle fibers during a movement, setting the stage for quicker and more powerful strength feats in later blocks. Athletes will likely move at lower velocities while increasing the total force produced by muscle fibers during each lift. But while the loads are heavy, total volume is slightly reduced and the rest periods between movements are long—so athletes won’t necessarily be exhausted by the end of the workout. Leaving a sweaty mess on the gym floor may feel productive, but may actually hinder what the Strength block is trying to achieve.

Competitive Phase (in-season) considerations:

While blocks that emphasize attributes such as power, speed, and de-loading are more common during the competitive phase, Strength blocks are not exclusive to off-season training.
Timely in-season exposure to intensities programmed in a Strength block helps to ensure athletes maintain force-generating capabilities throughout the competitive phase.
Athletes are typically exposed to greater amounts of sport-specific training and competition stress during the season. Because of this, training for strength immediately following a high-volume practice or competition is seldom advised. 

Max Strength (MAX)

  • Overall Volume: Moderately High
  • Scheme: 5 sets of 1-3 reps
  • Loading: 77.5% - 97.5% of e1RM

*Schemes and loading are general representations of training protocols for most primary compound movements and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed

Max Strength brings the heaviest loading in the periodized training calendar. Designed to maximize force production and muscle fiber recruitment in structural lifts, Max Strength builds on the preceding strength blocks to peak athlete strength in low-velocity movements. Repetitions decrease to just 1-2 at times during this block, in order for athletes to maximize loading in any given lift. It is important for athletes to maintain technical control during each movement, and get adequate rest between lifts to ensure safe execution.

Max Strength is not typically programmed in-season, due to the high demand it often places on the nervous system.

Power (PWR)

  • Overall Volume: Moderate
  • Scheme: 3-5 sets of 2-5 reps
  • Loading: 67.5% - 77.5% of e1RM
  • Velocity: Moderately High (with control)

*Schemes and loading are general representations of training protocols for most primary compound movements, and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed

While strength blocks will increase the number of muscle fibers being recruited for a movement, the Power block is designed to increase the rate at which those fibers are recruited—also called the rate of force development, or RFD. The Power block increases RFD through moderate loading at moderate volumes. Each repetition should be executed with control and precision, but with a focus on velocity of movement.

Competitive Phase (in-season) considerations:

The Power block helps to provide a transfer of resistance training adaptations to sport-specific performance expressions in an athlete’s sport. In almost every scenario, the athlete that can get to the ball fastest, or get off the line fastest, or jump the highest or farthest will be the most successful. The Power block is designed to develop speed within the strength of established movement patterns, which is why it is often programmed just before and/or at the beginning of a Competitive phase. 

Speed (SPD)

  • Overall Volume: Low
  • Scheme: 3-5 sets of 2-5 reps
  • Loading: 80% - 67.5% of e1RM
  • Velocity: High (with control)

*Schemes and loading are general representations of training protocols for most primary compound movements and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed

The Speed block is important for activating fast-twitch muscle fibers essential to performance.The transfer of strength into speed on the field or court is crucial for athletic development because it demands the application of all training objectives at once: strength, power, endurance, speed, proprioception, agility, etc. Loading percentages and overall volume are both slightly lower than that of the Power block, and the goal is to move the bar as quickly as possible with control.

Unlike other training blocks, the Speed block tapers in its loading, introducing the highest loads in the first week and gradually decreasing throughout the block. The loading taper allows for the speed of movement to progressively increase (in an inverse relationship to load values), resulting in better transfer to practical application. By utilizing speed training in the weight room, athletes will be better able to translate the strength and power developed in the gym into real-world performance.

Competitive Phase (in-season) considerations:

Speed blocks have the lowest energy cost of all training blocks (except Unload) and are often programmed in the weeks leading up to the most important competitions of the year. In order to maximize benefit during a speed block, athletes should perform movements at their highest controlled velocity.

Muscular Endurance (END)

  • Overall Volume: Moderate
  • Scheme: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
  • Loading: 55-65% of e1RM

*Schemes and loading are general representations of training protocols for most primary compound movements and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed

The Muscular Endurance block is designed to help our endurance athletes go the distance. As such, only athletes in sports that require high levels of muscular endurance (wrestling, swimming, cross country, marathon, triathlon, cycling, etc.) will see these blocks in their Volt training. 

When you perform a high volume of lightweight or bodyweight movements with short rest intervals between sets or circuits, your muscles will feel the "burn" of metabolite buildup in the bloodstream as your body works to supply energy to working muscles. By training strategically on this block, athletes will increase their muscles' ability to "buffer" this buildup, helping them endure longer bouts of exercise at higher levels of intensity. Essentially, training for muscular endurance helps athletes compete for longer distances at higher speeds. 

Competitive Phase (in-season) considerations:

Endurance athletes will see this block more frequently nearing the start of their competitive season or endurance event, to help create maximum training transfer from the weight room to the mat, pool, field, or course.  

Unload (UNL)

  • Overall Volume: Low
  • Scheme: 3 sets of 4-6 reps
  • Loading: 52.5% - 62.5% of e1RM

*Schemes and loading are general representations of training protocols for most primary compound movements and may vary based on the actual movements prescribed 

Typically programmed only one week at a time, the Unload block provides a necessary break from the routine. During an Unload Block, athletes can expect to continue moving through proper movement patterns under load, albeit, a greatly decreased load compared to other blocks. Athletes will still retain the strength and power developed in other blocks, but will get a much-needed rest from the demands of high-volume, high-load phases. The Unload block also allows for new adaptations to occur—the rest gives the body a chance to relax from its stressed state during an intense training period, letting post-training adaptations fully take root.

Competitive Phase (in-season) considerations:

Strategically placed throughout the sport season, Unload weeks are akin to active rest in the weight room. Unloading gives the body enough time to rest and recover from periods of high stress, which is essential for continuing to improve athletic performance without risking injury or overtraining.

Take Away

The important thing to take away from this post is that not one of these training protocols is new or incendiary. None of them is proprietary. There is no ego at stake in the training philosophies behind Volt’s programs. Our terminology may differ slightly from others’, but the guiding science is the same: the timely application of stress (in the form of volume and loading of movements) within a training session or phase, and the timely removal of stress at critical times (in the form of an Unload week), creates a pattern of progressive overload that will develop strength, power, and speed. The science is there—it is up to you to get the most out of each and every training session.

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