I think there are definite parallels between work and fitness training. Over the past few years I think as a whole, in both areas, we’ve confused working “hard” with working long.
Think about someone you know who you’d describe as working hard for a living. Now – do they really work hard – i.e. back breaking, intense physical labor — or do you mean that they work long hours – nights and maybe weekends?
Working “hard” and working “long” are not the same. And neither one means working effectively.
You could make the case that someone who is working long hours and weekends to achieve their objectives may not necessarily be working hard at all — they may be doing completely ineffective activities.
In addition, their rate of actual quality work output may be very low on a minute-by-minute basis. Or quality output may not be frequent enough — so they are trying to compensate by increasing their total volume.
But just increasing the volume of an ineffective, low-quality (i.e. intensity), infrequent activity isn’t helping whatsoever. Effective, results-producing work is not dependent upon the total volume of work primarily.
It’s the same as effective, results-producing exercise:
Is your training effective?
Are you focused and striving to do more work/lift more weight/do more reps in the session?
Are you training regularly? (in all studies – frequency of exposure to a stimulus is a primary key to success).
Once you have effective and technically sound exercise, performed with appropriate intensity on a regular basis – then you can think about adding volume. Doing more work can’t replace effectiveness, intensity or consistency.