The Most Bang For Your Training Buck
By: Doug Daniels
Everyone
is always looking for the best value or most bang for the buck. This is
not only limited to purchasing goods and services, but should apply to
power training as well. When a lifter trains, he should be working out
in the most effective manner, getting the best workout he can. Every facet
of training should be constantly evaluated from exercise selection and
performance, nutrition, to the sets and reps. One facet I think deserves
a bit more consideration is your choice of set and rep schemes. I
believe a vast majority of the set/rep schemes used by many lifters are
not efficiently and logically designed to produce the highest level of
gains. You may not be getting back as much from your training as you may
desire.
To illustrate my point,
I'd like to analyze a few of the most popular set/rep schemes. For
instance, 5 sets of 5 reps and the 'add weight/cut reps' each set method
and propose ways that these schemes can be made more efficient and hopefully,
more result producing.
Let's start with the '5
x 5' scheme. The 2 most typical ways of doing a '5 x 5' routine is
to use the same weight for all sets:
200 x 5, 200 x 5, 200 x 5, 200 x 5, 200
x 5
Or to increase the weight
on each succeeding set, peaking out on the final or fifth set:
185 x 5, 225 x 5, 250 x 5, 275 x 5, 300
x 5
I'll be the first to agree
that if you work hard and increase the weights used when you are able,
you will progress. So what's wrong with that? I say by logically
analyzing these two progressions, we can easily increase results.
In the first example,
if you were capable of getting that fifth set with 200 pounds, what good
were the first four? Likewise, in the second example, the last set
was the most intense and most beneficial. The four previous sets
only succeeded in tiring you out and resulted in you being able to use
less weight for the fifth set, wasting time and energy, not much value
in either scenario.
A better, more efficient
way of doing a '5 x 5' scheme that would result in a much higher level
of intensity could look like this:
195 x 5, 225 x 5, 255 x 5, 240 x 5, 225
x 5
With this more efficient
scheme, you would peak out on the third set with 255 pounds and then as
you tire and your strength wanes drop the weight a bit on each of the following
sets while sustaining a high level of intensity. The new 5 set workout
now becomes a very intense, resultproducing workout. A great value in
time spent.
Proper warmup is still
important and my examples provide adequate warmup for most weight trainees
without expending valuable energy and time. Of course, some lifters
may require an additional set or two of increasing sets. Don't waste
time and energy performing too many low intensity, marginally effective
sets; warmup then lift your heaviest weights. These are the sets that
result in gains.
Now let's look at a typical
add weight/cut rep each set scheme:
185 x 12, 205 x 10, 225 x 8, 245 x 6, 265
x 3, 285 x 2, 305 x 1
Here, the same basic principle
applies. Too many light warmup and intermediate sets and reps result
in you being able to lift less on the critical top set.
A better add weight/cut
rep scheme for the same lifter would look like this:
185 x 12, 215 x 8, 255 x 2, 285 x 1, 310320
x 1, 295 x 3, 265 x 5
As you can see, not only
does this result in a substantially higher amount of weight used over the
workout, but it also provides adequate warmup. The down sets in
this example, as in my '5 x 5' scheme, allow the lifter to garner additional
intensity as his strength and concentration level decreases, over about
the same number of sets as the old inefficient scheme. In addition,
the lifter would now be capable of a 25% higher top set. That may not
sound like much, but over the longterm, total volume is much greater.
Dropping the weight 5% on each succeeding set after the top set is a good
rule of thumb to start with. This may require some adjustment for each
individual.
Another benefit is potentially
better exercise performance. Usually, as a lifter becomes tired or
fatigued, exercise performance suffers. Using maximum weights while
fatigued increases chances for injury. By performing the heavier
sets sooner and then decreasing the weights as you fatigue, intensity is
kept high and proper exercise performance can be better maintained.
There are occasions when
lower intensity workouts may be desirable, such as the case of injury
rehabilitation and times where high intensity weight training may
be detrimental, such as light days.
This principle applies
toward other similar set/rep schemes like the 3 x 10, 4 x 8, 6 x 6, etc.
The weights you can use on this system may not be exactly in proportion
to my examples. It may require a little modification and experimentation
on your part. I feel very confident that if you compare your current
practices to my suggestions, you can immediately make all your workouts
more efficient, intense, result producing, and safe without requiring any
changes to the selection of exercises or other methods you currently employ.
This is really such a simple principle; you may wonder why you have not
tried this before. As I said earlier, your choice of set/rep schemes are
critical to your progress. Be more analytical and progress.
Make each set and rep count and you will get the most bang for your training
buck.
.


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for any purposed other than personal use is prohibited without written
consent. Copyright 1998 Doug Daniels. 