Different ways to measure lifting progress

There are three main ways to measure lifting progress: intensity, volume and density.

  • Intensity – weight per individual repetition i.e. heavier kettlebell = higher intensity
  • Volume – total amount of reps lifted i.e. more reps = higher volume
  • Density – amount lifted in a given time period i.e. same weight in less time or more weight in the same time = higher density

There are more ways forward than simply lifting a heavier weight and shifting focus between measures can give some nice variety. You may also find you respond to one better than others.

Recently I have been focusing on increasing volume with my kettlebell workouts but am getting close to the maximum I can get out of my current template. I could continue to add volume with additional sets and time but would prefer to keep these workouts shorter than 25 minutes. With that in mind, tonight I worked to increase density by tinkering with rest breaks and press RPM. To give an idea of what that looks like, here’s a comparison of my last two kettlebell workouts. As the weights used do not vary much between workouts I like to measure volume by total weight lifted.

Last week
Intensity = 16/20kg – far from record breaking but not what I am currently aiming for
Volume = 6,000kg – six tonnes, I love that!
Density = all work completed in 22 minutes, so 6000kg/22 = 273kg per minute

This week
Intensity = 16/20kg – same
Volume = 6,000kg – still six tonnes, I still love that!
Density = all work completed in 20.5 minutes, so 6000kg/20.5 = 293kg per minute

So, density goes up by 20kg per minute. Same work done in less time = progress.

I reckon I can squeeze in a couple of RPM more on the jerks and an extra set of presses so next week will be back to a volume focus. I will probably have to increase rest times so will spend the few weeks after that working on getting those reps done in less time (density).

The workout:

Joint mobility warm up

16kg snatch – 3mins, 30sL/30sR, 20RPM = 30L/30R (960kg)
1mins rest
20kg swing/jerk – 4mins, 30sR/30sL, 32RPM/12RPM = 32L/32R/12L/12R (1,760kg)
1min rest
20kg swing/jerk – 4mins, 30sR/30sL, 32RPM/12RPM = 32L/32R/12L/12R (1,760kg)
30sec rest
20kg swing/jerk – 2mins, 30sR/30sL, 32RPM/12RPM = 16L/16R/6L/6R (880kg)
1min rest
16kg press – 4mins, 30sL/30sR, 10RPM = 20L/20R (640kg)

Time = 20.5mins (6,000kg)

Core flow – one round

Back bridge – 2 x 30sec