Methods of Weight Training (Sets & Repetitions, Variations in Training, Muscle Exercise Cross Reference)

In the previous article “11 Simple but Important things to know about weight training,” we discussed benefits, important principals, the difference between free weights and machine weights, and guidelines for proper lifting techniques.

Now here we will discuss how to make your weight lifting workout more effective and gain maximum benefits from each and every workout.

Also Read: 8 Surprising Truths about weight loss after 40

Repetitions and Sets

Repetition or Rep is a single lift of the weight when we lift the weights for 10 to 12 times i.e. group of reps, it’s called a set. In an exercise, there maybe 3 to 4 Sets of 10 to 12 Repetitions.

How much weight a person should lift depends upon the fitness level (Beginner, Intermediate, or advance level) and fitness goal.  Generally, if the fitness goal is to build muscle then a person should perform 6 to 8 reps with heavyweights, whereas if the goal is to tone the body or maintain the body weight or isolate a muscle then 12 to 16 reps should be performed with lighter weights.

There are various methods, trainers and coaches use to determine, how much weight a person should lift. 1 RM is one such method which is widely used to determine the weight a person should lift to achieve the fitness goals. 1RM stands for 1 Rep Max. The heaviest weight a person can lift once is his/her 1RM. e.g. if you can bench press 100 KGs only once then 100 KG is your 1RM.

Now, As per the fitness levels and goals, you need to decide what percentage of 1RM you should select for each set of the exercise. At this point taking help from a personal trainer is highly advisable.

The second method to select how much weight you should lift for each set is to simply estimate the weight for the first set. Suppose, your goal is muscle building, and if you can do 8 reps easily then you are lifting lightweight, and if you are not able to do 2 reps or if you are cheating or taking support from the very first rep then you are lifting way too heavy.

You should never lift heavy if you have not lifted the weights before or if you are a beginner or you are lifting after a significant amount of time.

When initially beginning with your weight training journey it is recommended to start with lightweight, learn proper form and technique for each exercise, take the advice of your personal trainer and gradually progress to intermediate and advance levels.

Also Read: Useful Guidelines for Plyometric Training

Table Showing Repetitions to perform as per your Fitness Goals

Reps Weights % of 1 RM Outcome Rest Period
6-8 Heavy 85% to 90%  Muscle building  2-3 Minutes
8-12 Medium 70% to 80% Muscle Building/Toning 1 Minute
12-16 Light 50% to 65% Toning 30 to 45 Seconds

Variations in Repetitions and Sets.

It is always recommended to keep on varying the repetitions and sets in order to achieve your fitness goal earlier. Variations given here are all good if done without compromising on correct form and technique.

  1. Three Sets Per Exercise: This is the most commonly used system, excellent for all levels of fitness. Generally 1st set starts with a lighter weight which sometimes is also used as a warm-up set and the weights are increased subsequently in the 2nd and 3rd sets.
  2. One Set: This method is good for beginners, where one set of each exercise of a group of muscles you are training on a particular day is executed.
  3. Split Routine: This method of training is generally used in intermediate and advance levels of training. Most common in professional athletes. A group of muscles is trained twice a week but not on consecutive days in a row. e.g Chest and Tricep of Monday and repeated on Thursday.
  4. Heavy Set: Begin an exercise with lightweight say 50% of 1RM and increase the weights in subsequent sets till you cannot perform 4 reps of the targeted weight. this method increases muscle power.
  5. Pyramid Set: This method is used to increase stamina where you start with heavy weights and fewer reps and end your exercise with a lightweight but, higher number of reps.
  6. Tri Set: In this method, you perform three exercises without a break of the same group of muscles.
  7. Super Set: In this method, 2 exercises are done consecutively without taking the rest of the same body part. This method can also be applied for two opposing body parts e.g bicep and tricep.
  8. Giant Set: Meant for advanced level, where 4 to 5 exercises of the same body part (Sometimes two body parts) are performed without taking rest.

Also Read: 4 Different Ways to Exercise for Ultimate Fitness

Muscle Exercise Cross Reference:

Weight lifting sessions should be organized in such a manner that large muscles are exercised prior to small muscle. Here we are sharing Muscle Groups Targeted in some popular exercises.

Chest Exercises Muscles Targeted Back Exercises Muscle Targeted
Bench Press Pictorials, Triceps and Anterior Deltoids Shrugs Trapezius
Incline flyes Outer and Inner Pectorals, Anterior Deltoid One Arm Row Trapezius, Latissmus Dorsi
Incline press Upper Pectorals, Triceps, Anterior and medial Deltoids Pull-Ups Biceps, Rhomboids
Decline press Lower and Outer Pectorals, Triceps Anterior Deltoid Back Extension Erector Spinae
Pushups Triceps, Anterior Deltoid Roman Bench Erector Spinae
Cable cross over Upper and Lower Pectorals Seated Rows Latissmus Dorsi, Biceps, Erector Spinae
Lateral Pull Down Latissmus Dorsi, Biceps

Also Read: 3 Best Muscle Building Exercises

Shoulder Exercises Muscle Targeted Arm Exercises Muscle Targeted
Overhead (military) Press Medial Deltoid, Triceps Barbell Curls Full Biceps/Forearms
Lateral Raises Anterior and Medial Deltoid Dumbbell Preacher Curl Upper/Outer Biceps
Front Raises Anterior and Posterior Deltoids Standing Dumbbell/Low Cable Inner Biceps 
Prone Flye Posterior Deltoids and Rhomboids  Seated Hammer Curls Outer Biceps/Forearms
Seated Incline Dumbbell Curls Lower Biceps
Triceps Kick Backs/Dip Triceps Lateral Head
Tricep Seated Overhead Ext.  Triceps Medial Head
Tricep Lying Extension Triceps Long Head

Also Read: 11 Best Back Exercises 2020

Lower Body Muscle Targeted Abdominal Muscle Targeted
Squats Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps  Upper Crunches/Inclined Sit-ups Upper Abdomen
Front Lunges Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps  Lower Crunches/Leg Raises Lower Abdomen
Calf Heel Raises Gastrocnemius, Soleus Side Crunches Outer Obliques
Hip Extension Gluteus Maximus Crunch Machine Abdomen, Hip Flexors
Hip Abduction Abductors, Outer Thigh
Hip Adduction Adductors, Inner Thigh
Leg Press Gluteus Maximus, Quadriceps, Hamstrings 
Leg Extension Quadriceps 
Leg Curl Hamstrings

Also Read: Running or Walking, Choose the Best for You 

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