The Basics of Resistance Training: Sets and Reps and Volume and Intensity and Frequency OH MY
Hello! I hope you’re rocking your workouts this week. If you’re showing up at Flex, then I know you are. Today I wanted to get into some of the terminology and basic programming concepts of resistance training. The intent is to provide you with the meaning of very common terms related to lifting, and an understanding of why your trainer is making certain program decisions. There is a method to the madness, it’s not just torture for torture’s sake…probably.
Sets and Repetitions – If you have spent any time in a gym, you have heard someone talking about sets and repetitions. These represent the most basic of programming considerations and have an impact on your muscle’s response to training. A repetition is one cycle of moving a load from the start of the movement to the end. A set is a collection of repetitions. The most commonly used set/rep scheme is 3 sets of 10 repetitions often seen written as 3x10. This protocol originated in the late 1940s by Dr. Thomas L. Delorme to help wounded soldiers rehabilitate. It quickly spread to the civilian world and has remained a mainstay of the fitness industry to this day. The protocol that is right for you is directly related to your goals.
Strength – 1-5 repetitions
Muscle Growth/Hypertrophy – 6-12 repetitions
Muscular Endurance – 15+ repetitions
Regardless what you’re working towards, it’s a good idea to program in some time at each repetition range. For example, if you want to be able to squat a building, you should be mostly working in the 1-5 range. However, including a few weeks in the 6-12 or 15+ repetition range can help reduce your risk for injury and prevent plateaus. Sets and repetitions are directly related to our next term…
Volume – This is an estimation of the amount of work done based on the number of sets or repetitions or both over a given time period. Probably the easiest way to determine volume is to use sets per week. In general, if your goal is strength you will work at a lower volume than if your goal is muscular growth. The amount of volume that is best for you is also related to your ability to recover from your workouts. Women are generally able to handle more training volume than men (girl power!) In fact, women that fail to achieve their desired results from resistance training often need to add more volume (or frequency, more on that later). I mentioned that strength training is generally done with less volume than hypertrophy training. This is true, but it doesn’t mean that training for strength is easier because of…
Intensity – The closer you are to hitting your one repetition maximum for a given exercise the higher your intensity. Intensity is NOT how much you sweat or how gassed you are during your workout. As volume goes up intensity should probably go down. If you really want to work at a high volume and intensity, you’re a savage, but you’re also someone who should be considering our next term…
Frequency – This is how often you train a muscle. Generally, the smaller the muscle, the more frequently it can be trained. Compound movements (like squats and deadlifts) are typically trained 1-2 times per week. The biceps can be trained more often, maybe 3 or 4 times per week. It is important to remember that the biceps are also stimulated by any upper body pulling movement, and that must factor into training frequency. Women can very often benefit from more frequent training sessions, even for compound exercises.
Final Take-Aways – Frequency, intensity, and volume are variables that should be considered when resistance training. Generally, if two of those variables are high the third should be low. If you like to train with high volume and intensity, then you must train less frequently. If you train with high frequency and intensity, your training volume must be low. Your body, particularly your nervous system, cannot adequately recover if you fail to properly balance these variables. You’ll feel sluggish, your motivation to train will absolutely tank, and your progress will slow or stop altogether. Also, many a blown pec, torn quad, or shredded rotator cuff testify to the perils of disregarding the relationship between volume, intensity, and frequency.
Thank you for reading! I hope you have found this to be informative and interesting. If you did, you should come train with me at Flex 323. You should also train with me if you didn’t so I can get a chance to change your mind. Stay tuned for the next blog on recovery. God Bless!
Four Reasons to Work with a Personal Trainer and Four Things to Consider Before You Do
Hello again! In the last blog we talked about the necessity of resistance training and what it can do for you. If you missed it, check it out below. As promised, this week we’re going to discuss personal training. Specifically, the benefits of working with one, and what to look for in a personal trainer. Let’s start with the benefits!
A personal trainer helps you stay in the game. You are significantly more likely to show up if you’re meeting with a trainer. In many cases, if you decide to cancel at the last minute, you still get charged for your session. That makes a swerve into Whataburger instead of the gym on your way home from work much less likely. Also, consistent gym attendance for 3 months will very often translate into a changed lifestyle.
Personal trainers create your program for YOU. Designed for the purpose of helping you achieve your goals. Do you want to lose weight, get stronger, grow bigger muscles, improve overall health? Maybe your goals are more specific; to get on a bodybuilding stage, compete in a powerlifting meet, or run in a 10k. There is no one-size-fits-all program to achieve those objectives. A personal trainer also considers your skills and limitations to maximize your chances for success.
You will inevitably reach a point where your progression towards your goal slows down, or completely stops. This is a plateau, and it can be incredibly frustrating. How many times have you heard this (or said it yourself), “I lost 10 pounds and then the scale just would not budge?” Or, “I’ve been stuck at 225 on bench press for a month.” A personal trainer can help you crush plateaus and maintain consistent progress toward your goals. This is done through the manipulation of variables; sets, repetitions, weight, intensity, tempo, and exercise selection. Trainers know how to make the changes that will keep you moving forward.
There is nothing worse than having your progress derailed by an injury. Personal trainers help you avoid this by addressing deficiencies in movement patterns, ensuring that exercises are performed properly, and preventing overuse. If you already have an injury, a personal trainer can help you work through it (after you have seen a doctor and/or a physical therapist) so that you can continue to progress. It is important to remember that injury is always a possibility when you’re exercising, but a good trainer will reduce your risk.
Great, you’re convinced! You’ve decided to hire a personal trainer. Now what? Most trainers will offer a free assessment, this is a great time to ask questions and get to know them. Here are four points to consider before giving away your money.
Someone that has been successfully training clients for a decade is more likely to help you achieve your goals quickly and safely compared to someone brand new. This is particularly true if you have a complex medical or injury history.
This is important, but it comes with a caveat. Many personal training certifications are very easy to get. In some cases, they can be achieved with only a few hours of study and a high school diploma. The first thing to look for in a personal trainer is a degree in Kinesiology or a related field. The second is a certification from ACSM, NASM, or NSCA. This does not represent a comprehensive list of good certifications, but it’s a solid start. If you’re considering working with a personal trainer, look up their certifications and what is required to achieve them.
A personality with which you can work
Most personal training sessions last an hour. If you meet 3 times each week then you’re spending 3 hours every week together. They should be someone that you can be around for 3 hours without wanting to tear your hair out. If they have mannerisms that irritate you, or if they talk too much or not enough, or if they have significant body odor it might not be the best match. This may seem petty, but it can cause you to cancel sessions and seriously hamper your progress.
A focus on YOU
Your personal trainer should be totally focused on you during your session. If your trainer is consistently disinterested, distracted, or on their phone for most of the workout it’s probably time to find a new one. Don’t waste your time and money working with a trainer that is not invested in your success.
Don’t pick a trainer solely on how jacked they are. That doesn’t mean they know how to work with you.
Don’t be uncomfortable. If you don’t want a trainer that is the opposite sex, that is completely ok.
Beware of the overly handsy personal trainer. If you leave a training session feeling like they should have bought you dinner first, it’s time to find a new trainer.
Complete 3-5 sessions with your trainer before you commit to 10 or more. Smaller session packages typically cost more per session, but this advice can save you a headache if it turns out to be a bad fit.
I hope that you have found this guide helpful. We offer personal training at Flex 323! We give you all the benefits and none of the bad stuff! Please call 903 258 2625 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re ready to achieve your goals! Thank you and God bless.
The Top Five Reasons Why You Should Be Resistance Training
Welcome to the Flex 323 blog! I am Trevor, the less attractive but probably also smellier and certainly hairier half of the Flex 323 duo. I have been working in fitness/exercise/rehab for almost 15 years, with about 10 of that being focused on cancer rehabilitation. Check out the amazing things that FitSteps for Life are doing at www.fitstepsforlife.org.
The topic today is heavy. It’s not heavy for philosophical, spiritual, or emotional reasons…it’s heavy because of its mass. We’re talking about pounds, or kilograms, if you’re into that sort of thing. When you collect a bunch of pounds together, put them on the ends of a bar, and pick them up repeatedly that’s called resistance training. If you are not resistance training, you should be, and here are the top 5 reasons to do it.
Prevent Age Related Muscle Loss
The passage of time is inevitable, cruel, unforgiving, and it eats your muscle. Beginning somewhere in your 30s you may start losing 3-5% of your muscle mass each decade. This is called sarcopenia and it can be completely countered (almost) through resistance training. In addition to the general loss of strength associated with sarcopenia, most people also experience an increase in body fat. That sounds like a terrible trade to me. In 1990 a study demonstrated that people in their 90s were able to increase their muscular strength by 174% in 8 weeks by following a progressive resistance training program. They also increased their walking speed by 48%. So, be like those nonagenarians, and go lift some weights.
Manage and Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Big muscles help prevent Type 2 Diabetes. They also help regulate blood sugar for people already diagnosed with diabetes. The exact mechanism is not fully understood, but the gist of it is that muscle is great at pulling sugar out of the blood stream. Contracting muscle tissue can even do this through the expression of GLUT1. This is a glucose transporter that doesn’t require insulin. It is basically activated by intense, powerful, hypoxic (low oxygen) muscle contractions. Think anaerobic exercise, think resistance training, think not running. To be fair to running, cardio is also great for managing diabetes, but through a different mechanism. That is the absolute last time I will be fair to running, ever.
Prevent Obesity and Achieve a Healthy Body Fat Percentage
Everyone knows that obesity is linked to diabetes, heart disease, joint disease, and cancer. Resistance training is mandatory for achieving a healthy body composition. The combination of resistance training and proper nutrition is the most effective way to drop fat while preserving muscle. Big, strong muscles are metabolic furnaces, burning calories during movement and as part of the post training recovery process. They also look darn good.
Improve Bone and Joint Health
Your musculoskeletal system requires repetitive loading stress in order to stay strong and functional. When a bone is stressed by a load the body responds by laying down new bone in the stressed areas. This results in an increase in bone density and a reduction in risk for fractures and osteoporosis. Tendons and ligaments, those things that hold your bones, muscles, and joints together, also respond to the mechanical loading of resistance training. In fact, tendons may require very heavy loading in order to remain healthy.
Better for Your Heart than Cardio…WHAT?
People that train with weights have a reduced risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. There are some studies that suggest that it might even be better for overall cardiovascular health than cardio. That’s pretty mind blowing, unfortunately you shouldn’t toss your running shoes just yet. The current recommendation is to follow an exercise program that incorporates both. Just know that resistance training should be a much bigger component than was previously believed.
Now that you know the benefits it’s time to start lifting, but how often, what exercises, and how much weight? If you have never done any resistance training the first thing you should do is find an expert to guide you. I will be going over the reasons to work with a Personal Trainer in the next blog. The frequency and intensity of resistance training you need varies depending on your goals. If you want to be healthy and functional, two or three days per week is enough. Would you like to be a very strong human? This will not only require more frequent training sessions per week, but they will need to be at a higher intensity level. There will be grunting. Want to be shredded? You’re looking at a similar frequency and intensity as training for strength, but the program is going to look drastically different. Whatever your goals, you need resistance training in your life! You can find it, along with expert guidance, at Flex 323. Come check us out, today! Thank you and God bless!
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