Do you know what the most confusing aspect of training is? It's actually training. There are so many different types of training programs out there, some being good and others being, well, down right bad. We will have a quick look at the most popular types and you can decide which is best for you.
Most Popular Types Of Training
This was a type of training, which was really popular in the 80's. The idea was that you would pre-fatigue the muscle with an isolation exercise before you would use a compound exercise, believing that the compound exercise would then have more effect.
This is not the case. We now know that overload is what achieves increases in muscle mass and strength, so why deliberately reduce the amount of overload you can get.
Also, it can be very dangerous. In pre-competition, many old time bodybuilders believed more reps equaled greater definition. Look at legs for instance. They would do set after set of leg extension before moving to squats. This pre-fatiguing would greatly reduce their strength, not to mention balance and focus. Imaging if you fell over doing a squat - get the picture.
Super Slow Reps
Another popular style is super slow training. Many believe that a slow contraction will create a better 'mind-muscle' connection, leading to better development. In reality, going super slow just limits the weight you can use. This type of training just increases Lactic Acid production, a limiting factor when you are after Muscular Hypertrophy (increases in size).
The proper cadence to use when training is a rep speed, which YOU can control both in the concentric and eccentric part of the rep. Generally, a 2 sec up, 3-4 sec down, works best.
Drop sets are a favorite among hard training athletes. It means that you select a weight that you can go to absolute failure with, then reduce the weight so you can do more reps. As a result it is believed to produce more results. Well it doesn't always work like that.
By dropping the weight, you are actually extending the set over a longer period of time, therefore changing it from an Anaerobic to an Aerobic exercise. It is the anaerobic work, which produces the greatest results, so it's better to end the set at the 6th rep.
Forced reps follow a similar line to that of drop sets, except instead of reducing the load, your training partner gives you a hand to get it up. Unfortunately, the same results are produced, even though you think you are working harder. Say you are doing a bench with 100kg and you fail Â½ way up on the last rep. Your partner gives you just enough to finish the rep.
This is when you end the set as you have reached overload. When you go again and your spotter has to assist more, this interaction actually reduces the weight on the bar; therefore LESS stress is going through the intended muscle, even though you are working harder. See what I am getting at. Go to absolute muscular failure, but not beyond.
This was another popular method of training in the 80's. This was also called instinctive training. Many so-called "guru's" said that they had like a 6th sense when it came to training and they knew exactly what to train on what day.
They also never decided what body part they would train until they got to the gym, always trying to confuse the body. Well this just doesn't work. Weight training is not an instinctive activity. To reach your goals, you need a detailed plan and course of action; otherwise you will just waste your time.
How do you expect to get great results in 1 year, when you don't even know what part of the body you will train this afternoon. Also, you cannot confuse the body. As soon as you get to the gym and say "I am training legs", your body knows what you are training. All actions come from the mind so don't get confused over your training.
This will throw a spanner in the works. You know when you get a muscle pump, do you actually know what it is. It's not caused by blood being "pushed" into the muscle, but it is the "trapped" blood within the exercised muscle that cannot get out.
So what does this have to do with muscle growth - nothing. The pump is not a sign of an effective workout, so don't train in a manner in which it is a requirement. Some people experience it more than others do, but that's just them. It is not needed to produce results. Always train with overload in mind.
This is an oldie but a goodie. What you do here is start with a light weight and over the course of several sets you reduce the reps and increase the weight until you reach a weight, in which you will do your target work sets with. You then start to reduce the weight again and increase the reps, again over a couple more sets.
Why do this? I mean, if you achieved the desired effect from your heavy sets, then why go light again. You might say to finish the bodypart off, to flush it with blood so to speak, but as you seen with the Pump Sets definition, it just doesn't happen like that.
This just wastes time and energy, and can reduce the effectiveness of your program. On your very first exercise, pyramid the weight and reduce the reps as your warm up details, but that's it. Once you are going 100% with your first set, then you don't need to warm up again, just jump straight into your work sets.
There all basically the same thing. Ineffective at producing maximum results. By completing one set directly after another without any rest periods, you severely limit your strength and mental focus. All they do is extend the set, once again taking you away from the effective anaerobic zone and turning it into an aerobic exercise. This reduces the effectiveness of the exercise.
To effectively reach overload, you need to be FRESH before the start of each set. Super sets don't let this happen. Save super sets for the pump classes you do with your mum, as they have no place in an effective exercise program.
Time Under Tension
This is another common 80's and 90's training technique. It means you complete an exercise for a period of time, regardless of reps. Once again, overload is compromised so you can keep an eye on the clock. This was popular because it is one way in which you can push pass the pain barrier.
You know you only have 5 seconds to go, as opposed to another rep. The pain usually experienced with TUT training is the build up of Lactic Acid, a by-product of carbohydrate metabolism without the assistance of oxygen. Lactic acid is definitely a FOE when it comes to building muscle mass effectively.
So, What Is The Best?
So what is the most effective weight-training program, designed to build maximum strength and muscle mass in the shortest possible time...
Overload Training is exactly as the name applies. The goal here is to overload the muscle you are working during any particular set with a weight, which his heavy enough to bring momentary muscular failure within a set limit of reps.
The most efficient rep range to work in here is a range of 4-6. The weight should be light enough so you can complete 4 reps on your own, yet heavy enough so you can complete no more than 6. Training in this manner will make you stronger, leaner, more muscular, and keep you there longer, faster than any other method possible. To build muscle, high overload training is essential!
Did you know that by the time you're 80 years old you will have lost 50% of your muscle mass? However, this doesn't have to happen. It now appears that the IOC has recognized the need for high intensity resistance training, for the prevention of muscle loss in old age. Looks like you better blow the dust off those 100lb dumbells in the corner then.
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