Weight Training: Principles

Workout Reps
Standard Rep
– This is a repetition of the full movement of the exercise using perfect form.

Forced Rep – A partner helps you to do a few more reps when you can’t do any more alone. Giving you a slight amount of assistance does this. Forced reps are used to totally fatigue the muscle being worked.

Partial Rep – After the last rep of the last set, when you are unable to do another full rep, you concentrate on doing a half or quarter-rep. You continue this partial movement until you can’t do any more partial reps.

Negative Rep – Physiologists have found that the muscle can produce the most force during the eccentric (lengthening) phase of an exercise movement. A partner helps you raise the weight. Then you lower it as slowly as possible. This type of movement puts great stress on the tendons and ligaments and increases risk of injury. Only experienced bodybuilders should attempt this type of rep.

Cheating Rep – Cheating is when you alter a position so you can lift more weight. An example is arching your back on a bench press or leaning back on a curl. Cheating is an advanced technique and should only be used by experienced lifters.
1 - 3 reps Neuromuscular Strength
5 - 8 reps Strength Building
9 - 12 reps Muscle Development & Definition
13 - 20 reps Endurance
Workout Sets
A set consists of a given number of consecutive repetitions for the exercise being performed. Your exercise workout may be designed for many sets, each using a different number of repetitions with each exercise set. Usually, weight is added to the exercise as the number of sets increase (except for a drop set, which calls for a decrease in weight or a pyramid set).

Here are a few of the most common sets:

1 set – This protocol is used by beginning weight lifters or as a warm-up exercise. Strength and endurance gains are minimal.

2-3 sets – This protocol is used by intermediate weight lifters. Studies show that a workout of 2-3 sets produces good strength benefits.

4-5 sets – This protocol is used by advanced weight lifters. Studies show that a workout of 3-4 sets produces excellent strength and endurance benefits.

5-6 sets – This protocol is used by serious bodybuilders and athletes. Studies show that a workout of 5-6 sets produces near maximum strength and endurance benefits.

7-10 sets – This protocol is used by competitive bodybuilders, power lifters, and professional contact sport athletes (football). This type of program needs professional monitoring to prevent injury and overtraining. It produces maximum strength, speed, power, and endurance benefits, if supervised by a staff of professionals.

Drop sets– A drop set is used to totally fatigue the muscle and is especially good for stimulating the small muscle groups. A drop set can be added to any exercise workout. To perform a drop set, reduce the amount of weight used in the exercise and do as many reps as possible until you reach total fatigue. Studies show that maximum stimulation and fatigue can be obtained by employing this concept. You don’t want to overuse the drop set concept.

Super sets – A super set is the combination of two sets of two different exercises for the same muscle group with a shorter than normal, if any, rest period between the two compound sets. You can also perform a super set by combining two sets or two different exercises for antagonistic (different) muscle groups. For example: triceps/biceps, quadriceps/hamstring, and chest/back. Working two antagonistic muscle groups together is the least intense form of super-setting, but it is still effective and can save workout time.

Trisets – A triset is a group of three exercises, each done after the other exercises into a given training session. You must be in good shape and work into them slowly to avoid injury.

Pyramid Training – Here you start with high reps, low weight (to warm up) and then decrease the reps as you add weight. Then you work your way back down, taking off weight and adding reps. You can do any number of reps for the desired number of sets as long as you follow the high rep, low weight progression to heavier weights and less reps.
Workout Routines
Regular Routine

In a regular routine, you work three days per week with a day of rest between each workout. The regular routine consists of 4 to 7 exercises, plus abdominal work.

Split Routine
In a split routine, you work the upper body one day and the lower body another day. Muscles need a day of recovery between workouts. If you work all the major muscles in one day, as in the regular routine, you must rest the next day. With a split routine, however, you can workout on successive days, since the upper body is getting a rest while you are working the lower body, and vice versa.

The split routine is very efficient and a widely used principle in stimulating muscle gains. You will want to do a split routine if your total exercises exceed twelve per workout or if you are working at high intensities (heavy weight). As a general rule you should use a split routine anytime your workout exceeds one hour duration.

Split Routine Examples:

Days 4 -Day 5-Day
Monday Upper Body Upper Body
Tuesday Lower body Lower Body
Wednesday Rest Rest
Thursday Upper Body Upper Body
Friday Lower Body Lower Body
Saturday Rest Small Muscles
Sunday Rest Rest

Note: (1) Work the abdominal muscles each day. Only top athletes should workout over five days per week. The body needs time to recover.

Workout Exercise Order
A well-rounded weight training program includes at least one exercise for each of the major muscle groups in the body. To avoid muscle fatigue and promote muscle recovery, arrange the exercises so that successive exercises do not involve the same muscle group. However, to add variety to your workout routine you can change the order of exercises if you do not experience undue fatigue.

This principle may be applied by arranging exercises in the following order:

  • Abdominal
  • Thighs and hips
  • Chest and biceps
  • Back and posterior thighs
  • Shoulders and triceps
  • Calves
  • Forearms and wrists

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