The working weight can not be chosen at random. Learn how to determine the strain that will help you gain muscle mass in the shortest time.
Author: Bill Geiger
Being a veteran of strength training, I often hear from beginners two types of questions. The question that does not concern the choice of the protein powder to be taken is caused by a problem of a completely different nature: what weight should I take in each individual exercise?
A very good question, to which there is no simple answer. In fact, here we are at a crossroads with a lot of options, so let's walk through them in order. This will allow you to adapt the training program to your needs, and you will always be sure that you are using the optimal working weight.
You can take an 10 kg barbell, raise it 75 times, and after a while you will feel tired, and your hands will pour in blood. Definitely, you sweat a lot. On the other hand, you can take an 40 kg shell, raise it 8 times, and then quit because it's impossible to finish even one more repetition. In both cases, you train intensively. But which option should be preferred?
It may seem strange to you, but the answer depends on the goals you set. If you want to become as strong as possible, you will use more weight than your colleague who wants to be as large as possible. And to increase muscular endurance, you will have to work with even less working weight.
- The development of strength indicators requires a choice of working weight, which allows you to train in a range of repetitions from 1 to 6.
And now let's carefully study all three training protocols.
The biggest and strongest men and women – powerlifters, weightlifters Olympians, strongmen – set themselves one goal: to become stronger. To lift heavy shells in competitions, you have to lift weights in training. And when we talk about weights, we mean really very big weight.
To develop strength indicators, multi-joint movements are needed, like bench press, squats and deadlifts. They involve several joints at once, for example, in the bench press, shoulder and elbow joints are used simultaneously. Such multiarticular activity in general activates more muscle mass, which allows you to lift a heavier shell.
During severe approaches, the work is carried out mainly by those muscle fibers, which we call fast-contracting; they respond better to strength training by increasing volume and strength. However, they quickly complete the charge of energy, and therefore you will not be able to perform with heavy weight a large number of repetitions.
Rest periods between the main approaches should be long enough that incomplete restoration does not spoil the next set. Of course, lifting a heavy weight involves a preliminary warm-up, during which a series of approaches with progressively increasing weight precedes the work with the maximum tonnage. Athletes working on strength also try to avoid muscle failure, and this technique is adopted, mostly by bodybuilders.
Although those who train for maximum strength work with really high weight, their methods are not the best way to maximize muscle volume (hypertrophy). Bodybuilders and gymgoers who seek to gain muscle mass use a slightly different approach to determine the weight they need to lift. It is proved that the weight with which you can complete 8-12 repetitions, contributes to the maximum increase in muscle volume.
But this statement requires some explanations, so let's start with them.
You must train with the right technique. You've probably seen videos on YouTube where guys do a bench press with a rebound, because the bar is too heavy, and they need to use a small extra boost to move it. This is not considered a good technique. Each exercise contains its own "set of technical rules." In general, you must control the projectile and use only those joints that are destined to participate in this movement. If the knee or hips are involved in lifting the biceps, you connect the joints that should not have been used. For this there is a special term – cheating – and it destroys the mantra of the right technique.
Do "full" approaches from 8-12 repetitions. Of course, you can just put a little less weight on the bar and stop at 12 repeats, but it will not be a full-fledged approach. A full-fledged approach ends on the verge of muscle failure – at a time when you can not complete another repetition by all the rules. If you can do 13 repetitions, you use too light weight. By analogy, if you can only do 4-5 repetitions, the load is too high for maximum muscle growth. The golden mean is the weight with which you can complete without assistance from 8 to 12 repetitions.
Bodybuilders also train fast-contracting muscle fibers, usually starting with compound exercises, separated by the principle of body parts. This technique requires a large amount of training load (3-4 working approach to compound exercises performed at different angles) and short rest periods (60 seconds for small muscle groups and 90 second for large muscles).
Not everyone trains to become very big or very strong. You can train with a little intensity, choosing the working weight relative to your one-time maximum. Such an approach activates mechanisms in the muscle fibers that make aerobic ways of energy synthesis more effective, but do not increase the volume of the musculature. As a result, the muscles can perform many repetitions for a long time without fatigue. An example is the musculature of the classic marathon runners, which is designed for continuous work over a long distance.
If your goal is muscular endurance, you should choose a light weight that will allow you to complete 15-20 and more repetitions. Such incentives are not strong enough to increase strength or weight. This is because the muscles use slow-contracting muscle fibers that are designed for long-term work and do not increase in size the way it does with rapidly contracting muscles.
The relationship between weight and number of repetitions
If you have already decided on the goal, it's easy to calculate what weight to use in this or that exercise. Obviously, there is an inverse relationship between the number of repetitions in the approach and the mass of the projectile. With increasing weight, you can complete fewer repetitions, and with light weight you can perform more repetitions.
As a starting point, you can use the following table. If your maximum in the bench press is about 100 kg, the number of repetitions that you can finish with this or that weight will be something like this:
Such a power curve is unique for each athlete and each exercise, and you can draw up a training protocol on its basis. Suppose this is your power curve in bench press. Then to work on the force you would have to train with a weight exceeding 85 kg. When working on the mass, you would have trained with weights from 65 to 75 kg, and for the development of stamina you would have to use the weight outside the lower limit of this chart, less than 65 kg.
Each of us has our own power schedule for each exercise, and with your schedule you can get acquainted in the process of training. The key to success is to use the working weight, which is ideally suited to your goals. If you are used to starting an exercise with a warm-up approach, you can always hang the bar on the stops long before muscle failure and tell yourself that it was another warm-up set, if you think that you do not fall into the desired range of repetitions. In the next approach, adjust the working weight. Writing your results in a notebook or smartphone, you will save yourself from guessing at the next workout.
The most difficult thing is behind, but this does not mean that an experienced elevator operator can not perform fine-tuning of working weight. Here are a couple of tips that will help you.
1. Build up the warm-up sets by increasing
Some consider the workout a waste of time, but, in fact, it helps you to raise even more weight. Your fabrics will become more elastic if you walk along the trajectory of movement before the beginning of lifting a lot of weight. It should be noted that although bodybuilders train before muscle failure, warm-up sets never approach this point. Stop any approach with low weight long before muscle failure. The bodybuilder who plans to lift 100 kg in bench press and complete 8-12 repetitions in each approach, during the warm-up you need to adhere to the following scheme: 60, 80 and 90 kg.
2. Heavy weight – at the beginning of the workout
Since during an intensive training the energy supply is only depleted, put the most difficult exercises at the beginning of the training session, when there is a lot of fuel in the tanks. You can even exercise on the lower border of the hypertrophy zone, choosing the working weight with which you can only do 8 repetitions. In the process of training the target group, change the number of repetitions in the approach and train with slightly different intensity: follow the approaches with 10 (almost to the point of failure) and 12 repetitions near the end. With the exception of the warm-up, start the exercises in the lower range of repetitions and get to 12 repetitions in the approach to the end of the workout.
3. Be attentive with progressive overload
Muscles adapt to training stimuli, becoming bigger and stronger. Powerlifters and bodybuilders know that the basic adaptation takes place inside the fast-twitch muscle fibers. If we imagine this as a graph, your power curve will move upward, and you will be able to perform more repetitions with each working weight.
How do you know when it's time to increase the load? Try the following method: when with some weight, with which you started, you can perform on 2 repetitions more on two workouts in a row, increase the weight. If in bench press you started with 8 reps with 100 kg, and now you could do 10 repetitions on two workouts in a row, lift the load.
- In exercises for the upper body, for example, in bench press, the working weight should be raised by about 5%. So instead of 100 kg you need to put 105.
Let's say you gained muscle volume and increased strength. To continue to progress, you must expose the muscles to new tests by increasing the load. As you can see, you have to progressively increase the load, otherwise you will simply mark off on the spot. Self-aggrandizement is your main enemy, no matter what your goals are, so make yourself do more repetitions or use a slightly larger working weight and this will help you progress.
Sooner or later, even the most determined lifters find themselves on the training plateau. The methods of high-intensity training, in which you competently manage the working weight, can spur mass gain and increase in power indicators, but they are not worth it, but after careful planning of specific training methods. Learn different techniques that will help you make your training process cyclical.
Soon you will learn that the more and more you become, the less you see the "random" results, and the more carefully you have to plan the training process. It seems illogical, but you will find that the more you know, the faster you progress.