Weights, Repetitions and Exercises

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Posted by Helene

Now that I have told you it is important to get off the couch, move around and strength train, I think it is also time to help you determine how much weight, how many repetitions and other principles of strength training. The sky is the limit when it comes to exercising our muscles. There are truly a gazillion combinations of exercises and workouts you or a trainer can create for yourself. Once again, both my camera and camera girl failed me this week so bear with me for pictures and demos. I will add more to this article next friday.

Here is one of the many ways to break down a weight routine. It requires you to work your muscles 3 days a week, with one day of rest in between. By the end of the week, you will have targeted all major muscle groups. Remember it is not what you do one day that matters but what you do during the course of a week. Always keep the big picture in mind. As the weeks go on, I will give you more routines to work with, but try this one for 2-3 weeks and see how it works for you.
Day one: chest, shoulders and back.
Day two: legs and abs
Day three: triceps, biceps

Some exercises to choose from:
- Chest: bench press, chest press machine, pushups, chest flyes
- Back: one-armed row, seated row machine, back extensions, lat pulldowns
- Shoulders: overhead press, lateral raise, front raise
- Biceps: bicep curls, hammer curls, concentration curls
- Triceps: tricep extensions, dips, kickbacks
- Quadriceps: Squats, lunges, leg extension and leg press machines
- Hamstrings: lunges, leg curl machine
- Abs: crunches, reverse crunches, oblique twists.

How do you determine how much weight to lift? Well, I hate to say that there is no scientific method to this, but more trial and error at first. The best thing to do is to set aside a few workouts just to determine how much weight is necessary. You should be lifting enough weight that you can only perform 10-12 repetitions. You should be struggling by the last rep, but still able to finish it with good form. Pick up a light weight and do a warm up set of the exercise of your choice, aiming for about 10 to 12 repetitions. For your second set, increase your weight by 5 pounds and perform your goal number of repetitions. If you can do more than that, increase the weight up again for your third set. Most of the time, you can use heavier weights with larger muscle groups such as chest, back and legs, but you will need smaller weights for the shoulders and arms.

For weight loss and general health and endurance: Perform 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps using enough weight that you can only complete the desired reps.
For muscle gain: perform3 or more sets of 6-8 reps to fatigue. Beginners should give themselves give several weeks of conditioning before going to this level, and preferably start with a trainer.

There are a few principle to respect when determining the appropriate weight and repetitions to use to maximize your goals.
1/ To be build muscle, you need to use more resistance than what you are used to. You should be lifting enough weight that you can only complete the desired number of repetitions. You should be “feeling it” within the first set and barely able to finish your last. This is going to take some trial and error at first to determine the appropriate program.
2/ As you get stronger, you need to increase the intensity regularly, as well as changing the exercises you do. It prevents hitting a plateau in your strength training goal, and it also counteracts boredom in the gym room, which is the number one factor why people stop seeing results and drop out.
3/ Specify to yourself or your trainer your exact goal: to build muscle you will have to lift heavy with more sets and less reps, and longer rest periods. To lose weight, you will have to target a variety of muscles and repetitions ranges.
4/ Rest and recovery: rest days are just as important as workout days as your muscles grow while you rest. Try not to work the same muscle group two days in a row.

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This Post was written by Helen from Tartelette


This is good advice - I see people use too high weight far too often. Instead of doing concentrated exercises they start to pull the weights, use the wrong muscles and hurt themselves. If you have any in-detail advice on how to choose the right weight to begin with, it would be great!

jokergirl said...
July 1, 2007 at 8:50:00 PM GMT+2  

Jokergirl: as I said in the article, there is no scientiic method: play around picking one exercise and trying out different weights. Everybody is very different and carry their strength in different body parts. Dedicate one session to "play around" with weights until you find one that is challenging.

Tartelette said...
July 1, 2007 at 11:01:00 PM GMT+2  

Helene! You are amazing. I thank you so much for this. With your email help and these articles I am really managing my goals. This particular article was important. You know sometimes you simply know things in your head, but when you actually read it - it goes BING! in your head.

Although I do not always manage the 3 times a week to the gym to use the machines there I try to save the arms for home when I can use my dumbells here too. Earlier I had a plan that went through the whole body, but ever since your advice I have changed it to be like you mentioned here. I see a few changes already and I've been at it for just a few weeks.


Meeta said...
July 10, 2007 at 8:53:00 AM GMT+2  

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