Archive for the tag - sets

Strength Training Myth: More Volume Is Better!

weight-lifterWhen it comes to exercise, more sounds better – but that’s not always the case. Especially when it comes to volume.

Volume refers to the total number of sets and repetitions performed in various exercises. In a nutshell, it’s the amount of work being done in a workout. If you do an additional rep or add another set, you increase the volume.

We’ve all seen men and women perform insane amounts of volume at the gym. They do a zillion sets with a zillion repetitions of a zillion exercises. These individuals are misguided in their belief that more is more – and their results will undoubtedly be limited by this common strength training error.

By pushing volume too high, these individuals are limiting training intensity.

When we talk about intensity, we’re talking about how hard you’re exercising. And there’s no way to do a zillion sets without turning down the dial and making things… well, less intense.

If increasing muscle size is one of your workout goals, keep the volume low and the intensity high. If you can do more than four sets of eight reps of a given exercise, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough. Crank things up. Not only will you dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend exercising, you’ll signal to your body that more muscle is needed. It’s a time-tested strategy that works.

Answered: How Many Repetitions of Each Exercise is Best?

Dear Davey,

I’ve been told by multiple people, including my yoga teacher and friends, that there is a max number of reps one can do in one set. I’ve been told it’s somewhere between 21 to 25 reps. Is this true?

From,
Ryan

Dear Ryan,

There isn’t a magic number from a scientific standpoint, but there certainly are some ranges to target. Whether you’ll target a low rep range or a high rep range depends on your fitness goals.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Low reps (1 – 6): Builds strength
  • Medium reps (7 to 12): Builds size and strength
  • High reps (12 – 15): Builds endurance

Keep in mind, you want to be fully fatigued on your last repetition. Obviously, you’ll have to adjust the weight accordingly.

Swinging a weight around 20 or 30 times won’t do much for muscle growth, but it may get your heart pumping – as is often done in aerobics classes! It can certainly be part of your cardiovascular training, though you’ll still want to seek out some strength training exercises to balance your workout.

The number of reps that’s right for you really just depends on your goals and what you’re looking to accomplish.

Love,
Davey

How Many Sets Should You Do?

People and fitness clients often ask me about the number of sets that they should be doing while exercising.

A “set” is the number of times you perform a group of reps or repetitions. Here’s a quick video with everything you need to know:



The number of sets can largely be influenced by your goals and the amount of time you have available. More than 70% of the benefits of an exercise are realized after just the first set. If you are pressed for time and your goals don’t have you wanting to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger, this is great news. After two sets, you’ve realized almost all the benefits you stand to gain. The gains on the third and fourth sets are fairly minimal, and are only important to fitness enthusiasts that are looking for maximized results.

How Long Should I Rest Between Sets?

I think I could rest with him for the remainder of my life.

In yesterday’s fitness tips, I mentioned that it’s always a good idea to time your rests – especially if you’re looking to maximize your workout’s efficiency. It begs the question: How long should you be resting in between sets?

Like so many things in fitness, it depends. Rest time depends on your goals, what you’re training for, how you’re feeling, how old you are and so on. But here are the basics.

When you workout, you use energy. Duh. We know that it takes 2.5 to 3 minutes for your energy system (often called the phosphagen system) to fully recover after an intense set of exercise. So what does that mean for rest times?

3 – 5 minute rests: If you are training for power lifting, sprinting, football, etc. – or any sport that requires short bursts of explosive energy, wait 3 – 5 minutes in between sets. It’s a long time to wait, but it will result in the fast, quick power that these athletes need. Studies also show that it also boosts testosterone levels which increase strength gains.

45 – 60 seconds: Resting for a shorter time does not allow for full recovery – and that’s a good thing if you’re looking to build muscle size or train for a sport that requires constant energy over a longer period of time (i.e., marathon runners, soccer players, swimmers, etc.). Training with 45 – 60 second rests forces the body to improve it’s ability to sustain moderate or fairly high intensity exercise for longer durations of time. Trainers often espouse the 1:1 ratio – equal amounts of lifting to rest. If it takes you 50 seconds to complete your set, rest for 50 seconds.

At the end of the day, you’ll have to find out what works best for you. Some people swear by 90 second resting periods. Others by 2 minutes. Listen to your body and your results.

Any questions? Let me know in the comments below.