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    Photo Credit: courtesy of David Rich

The quest for the perfect workout program, part 4

By David Rich

Fourth in a five part series

No. 7: Exercise performance/form
If you're like me you want to get the maximum benefit from each exercise you do. Some people believe to get the most out of an exercise you have to do every part of that exercise in perfect form. That's partly true. Think about this: if you were to lift a heavy box from a two-foot table to a five-foot table naturally, you would bend your knees, push with your legs, grip with your forearms, curl with your biceps, pull with your upper back and lift a little with your lower back. You have just lifted the object with natural form. Did lifting the box that way put as much stress on the biceps compared to if you just curled the box up with out moving anything besides your forearms? Of course not. But was it still safe? Yes. Did it still put stress on the biceps? Yes. If the box wasn't too heavy you could of just curled it up. Since the box was too heavy to just curl it was OK to use other muscle to help out. Same with weight training:

Perfect form is when you focus as much force as possible into the muscle you're working without using momentum or help from other muscles. You want to start each set with perfect form and do most the reps using this form. Example: Bar curls with just the forearm moving (pivoting on elbow joint) and back straight.

As you begin to get tired you can go into natural form to finish the set. Your still putting as much force as possible into the muscle you're working, but now your getting a little help from other muscles and joints, safely. Basically, you're lifting how you naturally would. Example: Bars curls with the forearm moving, knees slightly bent so you can get a little push from them during the concentric part and a little lift from your back. Keep your abs tight to support your lower back.

Don't do sloppy form. You have a high chance of getting injured and your hardly using the muscle you're trying to work. Drop the weight instead. Example: Bar curl where you swing back and forth to get the weight up relying on momentum.

No. 8: Reps
When determining the amount of reps to do you must first determine what your goals are. Low reps (1-8) produce the greatest amount of absolute strength. Medium reps (9-20) produce more anaerobic strength. While high reps (21-40) produce mainly aerobic endurance strength.

As a bodybuilder variety is the key for muscle growth, so you will want to train in a wide rep range. This range can go anywhere from 1-40 reps with 90 percent of your training between 5-15 reps. When lifting heavy, around 8 reps or less, you will be using your white muscle fibers more. As you get into the higher reps, around 15 or more, you will be using the red fibers more. While 10-12 reps produces the most volume. Knowing when and how to change these reps is a major part of making results. David Rich is a personal trainer and model. Visit his web site, FitnessModelBody for more information.

Part 1: Training length and exercise selection
Part 2: Recovery times and resting between sets
Part 3: Volume and tempo
Part 4: Form and repetition
Part 5: Periodization and training intensity