Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Isn't Your Workout Working?

Have you been doing the same old workout routine over and over? 10 reps by 3 sets?
It's insane to expect different (and better) results by doing the same things over and over.
It's about time to change up your strength traiining rouitne if you haven't gained strength or muscles, or lose fat.
Let's look at the training variables you can manipulate for weight training (resistance training): 
  • Selection of exercises
  • Order of exercises
  • Weights (resistance)
  • Sets
  • Reps
  • Tempo (rep speed)
  • Rest interval
  • Loading pattern
  • Periodization program

Reasonably simple, huh? Yes, but there's more to it. The combination of all these variables determine your training volume and intensity and your results. 
Let's look at an example. Say you want to work on your chest (pectoral muscles) by choosing dumbbell flat bench press and dumbbell fly exercises (your selection of exercises). One classical straight-set workout may look like this (after light-weight warm-up sets) : 
Classical Straight Set for Hypertrophy ( Muscle Building)
Dumbbell Bench Press: 60 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest
Dumbbell Fly: 30 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest 
Comments: The order of exercises is dumbbell bench press first followed by dumbbell flyes. Each exercise is performed for 3 sets by 10 reps at respective weights. The lifting tempo is 2-0-1 rep speed. The rest interval between sets is one minute. The weight loading pattern is straight set; i.e., same weight through each exercise. Some people may call Dumbbell Flyes as "post-exhaustion" set in this combination. 

What Else Can You Do?

Well, a lot more than you think.

The following shows three variations to above weight training routine with comments.

Variation #1 Pre-exhaustion Set
Dumbbell Fly: 35 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest
Dumbbell Bench Press: 55 lbs x 3 sets x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 1 minute rest

Comments: The order of exercises is reversed. Flye is an isolation exercise that would tire out your pec as an "pre-exhaustion" set. You may be able to "fly" more weight first, but you almost wouldn't be able to lift as much in the subsequent Bench Press (a compound exercise).

Variation #2 Straight-Set for Maximum Strength
DB Bench Press: 75 lbs x 5 sets x 3 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 3 minute rest
Dumbbell Fly: 40 lbs x 5 sets x 3 reps, 2-0-1 tempo, 3 minute rest

Comments: By reversing the set x rep combination to the low rep range and heavier weights, you're training for maximum strength development. Training load and intensity are higher. You typically have to reduce training volume and rest longer between sets to recover from metabolic and physiological stresses.

Variation #3 Super Set
Dumbbell Bench Press @ 60 lbs x 10 reps (2-0-1 tempo) followed immediately without rest with Dumbbell Flyes @ 30 lbs x 10 reps (2-0-1 tempo)
Repeat this superset two more times for a total of 3 sets with1-minute rest between supersets.

Comments: Superset means you do two exercises back to back without rest. Take the rest till you finish both exercises as one set. These two exercises could target the same muscle group as it is in this case. You can also superset unrelated muscle groups (such as leg and shoulder) or opposing muscle groups (biceps and triceps). 


Anonymous said...

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