Weights and Reps

  • intruder

    Posts: 45

    Jul 15, 2009 7:23 AM GMT
    Can you clear this up.... pros/cons of:

    a) 3 sets of heaviest weights you can do, 5 repetitions each, increasing the weight as the sets become "comfortable"

    b) 3 sets of not-as-heavy weights for 10 repetitions each, increasing the weight as the sets become "comfortable"

    c) same as a), but gradually increasing the reps until reaching 3x7, then then increase the weight, back to 5 reps, repeat

    I've read competing theories that shorter reps with heavy weights is better than more, but also that 10 reps puts you in "hypertrophy zone".

    I've mainly been focusing on c). I'm certainly larger than I was in Feb when I started working out, and have lost more than half my body fat, but that doesn't mean I'm doing it in the best/efficient way ;)

    What is the general pros/cons between a), b) and c) ?
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    Jul 15, 2009 2:10 PM GMT
    Good question, I've been doing 3 sets with 15 reps as a standard benchmark for everything. Should I reduce the reps but increase the weight? I too have lost most of the body fat I had on my slim frame. I'm happy I did but I need to bulk up a bit, just a bit.

    Ok, looking forward to hearing from all you gym gods.
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19133

    Jul 15, 2009 2:19 PM GMT
    I'm sure there are many theories out there on which is the best technique, but for me, and I have done it for years, I find a weight that I can do 20 reps with and I do two sets of that, alternating between sets with another exercise of another body part...and then I move on to the next. I just think less weight and more reps is not as hard on your body and gives you a more toned rather than bulky build.
  • outdoorjunkie

    Posts: 118

    Jul 15, 2009 5:46 PM GMT
    It really depends on what your goals are. Speaking generally, more weights at lower reps will build bulk. Higher reps at less weight will define. Somewhere in between get you, well, in between.

    I'm a fan of the 10-rep range, but that's based on what I want my body to look like. My goal is to strengthen, define, and add some bulk. I'm no expert, and I'm sure many more here can give you a better detailed answer. But no matter what, it all boils down to what you want from your body.
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    Jul 15, 2009 6:33 PM GMT
    If you're trying to go for a muscular body, then focus on reps. I think 10+ reps is a good target. You need to pick a weight that isn't too heavy and isn't too easy. Basically, on that last rep, you should be exerting yourself but not so much that you compromise your form. And form is critical. When I first started working out, I didn't get any real results until I concentrated on my form and really "felt" the muscles being worked.

    The main concept that a lot of us around here keep repeating is, to try different things. Because everyone's muscles respond differently to different weightlifting techniques. So try doing 10x3 for a couple months and see if you notice any improvements. If not, you can also try pyramid sets, reverse pyramid, double-pyramid, drop sets, pump sets.

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    Jul 15, 2009 10:10 PM GMT
    It all has a place.

    You need to change up what you're doing once every 4-6 weeks so you keep your muscles guessing. Regardless of how many reps you do, you're not doing too much good if you're not overloading the muscle which means doing at least one of your sets to failure (because you should also have a warm up set, which would probably be low weight high rep).

    There are tons of studies, but I think they'd all concur that if you do the same thing over and over again you'll get the same results. When first starting an exercise routine, you're going to see a lot of progress initially, but as your muscles get used to what you're doing, progress is going to slow and you're going to have to work your butt off to see bits and pieces of progress.
  • intruder

    Posts: 45

    Jul 16, 2009 3:38 AM GMT
    The thing about continually changing the routine is something I already do. Also, my current routine (posted on my profile) already has a huge amount of variation built into it. My question is about the conflicting ideas between heavy weight @ 5 reps, or medium weights @ 10 weights. If indeed 10 reps puts you in the "hypertrophy zone", then it conflicts with the heavy weights @ 5 rep theory. icon_evil.gif

    My understanding is currently that heavy weight @ 5 reps should be very bulkifying (tm), and medium weight @ 10 reps would be "cutting". Some guys even suggest 20 reps - to me that is probably way to much since by that time, it is about as much exercise as walking around the block once you've already gotten used to walking half a block.
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    Jul 16, 2009 4:25 AM GMT
    I mix it up. Depends on how I feel and what I think I can do. I have been known to stagger anywhere from 1 rep to 100 and play with the weights. The common theme for me is making sure that I feel worked out when i leave the gym.
  • intruder

    Posts: 45

    Jul 17, 2009 7:15 PM GMT
    My upper arms were 12 inches when I started working out in Feb, then got to 13 almost immediately, slowly went to 13.5 and plateaued for a while. Now they are 14 after 5 months. I changed my routine, which is why I think growth is back. The change to lighter weights and more reps might do me some good.

    For example, on the "bent barbell" (whatever the real name is) I usually curl 85 lbs in 3x5 reps. I'll lower the weight to 60 and do 3x10 reps and see how that goes. I'll report in the forum when I've done it long enough to evaluate.
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Jul 18, 2009 3:17 PM GMT
    It really depends on your fitness goals. If you want to define lift lighter weight more reps to failure. If your trying to get bigger you should find out your max-get a spotter. Then knock of enough pounds so you can do 3 sets of 10-12 reps-moving up 5-10 pounds. The muscle needs time to rest and repair-expect muscle soreness or the DOMS. Each day move to another body part.

    Good Luck intruder
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    Jul 18, 2009 3:33 PM GMT
    I generally look at the bodies of those giving advice and then determine whether I am going to listen to them or not. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Jul 18, 2009 3:42 PM GMT
    well said- if their advice works so well-they should look like it!!
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Jul 18, 2009 3:46 PM GMT
    They say "those who can't teach" for me this doesn't apply in the gym!!!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 18, 2009 3:53 PM GMT
    I do sort of a variation of both... when I do bench... i do four sets....

    first set i try to get 10-12 reps, 2nd set i do 8-10, 3rd set i do 6-8, and fourth set i do 4-6... and this is similar to how i workout other parts of my body too... so I don't just do one or the other
  • intruder

    Posts: 45

    Jul 22, 2009 5:03 PM GMT
    Ok I have lowered /most/ of my weights and increased the reps to see how it goes. It certailny makes me feel sore all over again - like the exercises are new, even though they really aren't icon_biggrin.gif This should do me some good, since it forces me to realize how low my stamina is for some lifts that traditionally I am really good in the power department.

    I am mixing them up because I do have an interest in a bit more bulk, esp my chest. My routine mixes body parts throughout the week, which allows for some days to have heavy reps and others to have light reps in a somewhat randomized fashion.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 22, 2009 5:22 PM GMT
    Google up on hypertrophy. You may be surprised what you find.

    There are any number of training methods, and a wide number of variables make the equation. Variation is key for many. Very low reps generally isn't a good idea, for most, as the risk of injury rises, form gets bad, and you get strong but don't necessarily improve your look.

    The answer is whatever works best for you.

    A 20 year old ectomorph who under eats clearly doesn't need the same program as 28 year old mesomorph who gobbles down food.
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    Aug 04, 2009 7:32 PM GMT
    chuckystud said
    The answer is whatever works best for you.


    Definitely.

    I do reverse pyramids for most exercises. Example:
    10 x 50lbs
    12 x 40lbs
    14 x 30lbs. (or I'll do them till I fatigue)

    This works well for me for a lot of exercises since I sometimes get bad pain in my hands from minor carpal tunnel, and I risk not being able to hold a bar if my grip fails from the weights first.
  • intruder

    Posts: 45

    Aug 13, 2009 10:58 PM GMT
    UPDATE:

    I went on vacation but kept up on some exercise and did an enormous amount of cardio (swimming, diving, etc). There's a pic of me on my profile at a swim-up bar. Yea, that's no protein beer shake on the bar behind me icon_redface.gif I also ate 5 times a day, which is extremely rare for me. Lots of fruit and seafood, and extremely low fat in every way.

    Interestingly I lost 4 lbs over that week and the subsequent week. According to the body mass calculator at the gym, it was entirely fat - and its visually obvious because some muscles, such as fore-arm are looking cut all of a sudden.

    Interestingly my muscle mass stayed exactly the same, other than my neck and shoulder muscles getting a bit more bulky from swimming so much. Anyway, just wanted to give a heads up. Back onto my workout routine (listed on my profile also) and am doing a mix of some light work and heavy weights.