The most important aspects of strength training are to use a weight that increases muscle mass and to perform the optimal amount of reps and sets for each exercise.
Not working to your full capacity, prevents you from seeing any significant gains in muscle mass or strength. Follow these recommendations to get the very most out of your workouts when you are starting out.
Rep counts for beginners for each strength training exercise fall into the 8 to 12 range. Advanced weight lifters decrease rep count and concentrate more on max load amounts. Emphasis is placed on loading as much weight as possible and performing 1 to 6 reps for each exercise. Two- to three-minute rest periods are taken between sets. Both novice and advanced weightlifters perform one or two sets for each exercise.
Calculating Maximum Load
You have several options open to you when deciding on the correct load amount to use for strength training work. For beginners, the safest option is to gradually increase your weight amount. When you feel exhausted by the 8th rep during exercise, choose this load for your workout. Advanced trainers use a principle known as 1RM or one rep maximum. Maximum load for weighted exercises are selected based on how heavy a weight you can use to successfully complete a single rep. Multiply this weight by 60 to 80 percent to determine load.
Progressive overload is a principle applied when deciding on your load for each weight lifting exercise. This principle dictates you should never stay at the same max load for a prolonged period of time. Instead, as soon as you are able to perform 12 reps without feeling exhausted, add on more weight. A two to ten percent increase should be made when you are ready to increase loads.
Never compromise form as part of your weight training program. If you are unable to perform an exercise correctly, you must make an adjustment either to rep count or load amount. Decrease reps and load until you are able to finish a set correctly. Performing an exercise incorrectly, regardless of load or rep count, can be detrimental and can lead to injury.
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