How many total sets and repetitions you should perform in a training session? Should you perform four or five sets of an exercise, should it be five or six exercises? There are few guidelines detailing what functional training loads are for athletes/general population but a few salient points should be made in advance of planning your training session:

1. Different athletes tolerate different training load-volumes, athlete A and B will respond entirely differently to the same training load stimulus

2. Is your strength and conditioning complimentary to on the field training? If not, then revise it

3. Less is more: at the highest level, on-field technico-tactical training provides a massive amount of training stimulus. You don’t want your S & C to blunt the most important game-specific adaptations

4. Is your strength and conditioning periodized to compliment the specific tactical qualities of your sport?

5. Do you have a daily recovery strategy?

These are among the first few questions an S & C coach or athlete should ask themselves. Once these have been teased out, you can start to design your programme.


Once you’re over the first hurdle, here’s a simple model to calculate training load volume in the gym. Say that you are performing 100kg squats for 4 * 15 reps. To calculate the volume load, multiple 100 * 4 * 15 = 6000kg volume load which you have lifted. Now divide this figure by 1000 (6000/1000) and it gives you 6. So with your squat you have moved 6 metric tons. Repeat this step for your entire workout sequence. Now add all the metric tons up in your training session to give you your grand metric tonnage. Tudor Bompa in his textbook Periodisation recommends standardized metric tonnages for various sports in both preparatory and competitive phases of the season, for example:

1. Basketball: 12-24 metric tons (preparatory phase), 8-10 (competitive phase)

2. Boxing and karate: 8-14 metric tons (preparatory phase), 3 (competitive phase)

3. Gymnastics: 10-16 metric tons (preparatory phase), 4 (competitive phase)

4. Rowing: 30-40 metric tons (preparatory phase), 10-12 (competitive phase)

5. Speed-skating: 14-26 metric tons (preparatory phase), 4-6 (competitive phase)


Training load volume via metric ton monitoring is an interesting concept, easy to use, and a good way of tracking your sets and reps throughout the training cycle. Once you’re in the habit of doing this, match the training load volume to your subjective feeling of exertion and begin to interpret the data.