Can anyone advise about weight training at the gym?(19 Posts)
I am not an expert but do a lot of weights at the gym alongside cardio work. The advice I have been given is that you should do 8-12 reps x 3 of whatever exercise - once you can do 3 x 12 reps reasonably easily, you need to put the weights up to the next weight and start again (chances are you would only be able to do 3 x 8 reps at this point) and gradually build up and then move up again.
Does that make sense? More reps at lower weights does not tone - it is fairly pointless.
I am dashing off to work now but I will try and get some more information about why you need to do heavier weights later on today
ceebeegeebies is right AFAIK, more reps at a lower weight is pretty pointless. The idea is to choose the correct weight for whichever rep range you are working in. If you are doing 3 sets of 15 then you need to choose a weight where you should be struggling to complete the 15 reps in the last set. If you are doing 5 sets of 5 then again you need to choose a weight that you can only just complete the 5 reps with. Fewer reps= heavier weight=longer rest time between sets. This will help to build the strength in your muscles. Higher reps= shorter rest between sets. This will help to increase your muscles endurance. Ideally you need to change your programme every 3-4 weeks to keep challenging your body, and to work across different rep ranges. You will probably only feel sore (DOMS) after the first time you do a new programme and you are working your muscles in a slightly different way to what they are used to. Just because you are not sore does not mean it wasn't an effective workout.
If you can complete all the reps and sets then you need to move up a weight. It can take a while to work out what weights you should be using as at first it is trial and error. If you can complete all your sets and reps then you need to increase the weight. If you can complete them all easily then next session just try the next weight up and see how you get on, most women will select a weight that is far too light to start off with. If you are 'just' managing to complete all the reps with for example, 3 sets of 8 with 10kg, then next time, do the first set with 10kg, the second set with 12kg, the third set with 10kg. If you complete all the reps in the second set with the 12 then the next time do the first set with 10 and the next 2 sets with 12, once you can do all the reps with them, then try all three sets with 12 and so on.
Personally I think doing 3 sets of 20 bicep curls is pretty pointless, you can work the muscle far more effectively in full body moves such as chin ups (or negatives until you can do a full chin up). These type of work far more muscle groups at the same time and are not only more effective for strength training but burn far more calories than standing there doing a bicep curl. If you do do bicep curls then concentrate on a slow control raise and lower, and hold the contraction at the top of the movement for 2 seconds.
Do read CBGBs articles - they are both relevant here.
'toning', just means building muscle mass and losing subcutaneous fat, so that you have more definition. There is no reason that high rep/low resistance exercise will make this happen.
The best workout I found for 'toning' (i.e. putting on muscle mass), especially if you don't have much time and can only make it to the gym a couple of times a week is 'single set to failure'. In summary:
- Select 6-7 exercises, do them every time you go to the gym (no body splits)
- Only go to the gym twice a week, you need loads of recovery time
- Only do one set of 10-12 reps for each exercise - that's right, only one set! Your aim is to fail on the last rep. If you succeed on the last rep, you need to up the weight next time you go to the gym.
- Use a very slow cadence, ideally 5 seconds up and 5 seconds down on every rep
- Wait at least 3 minutes between exercises
- do some cardio in your off days, don't bother with the treadmill - go for an actual run (preferably not on tarmac) or bike ride instead.
The beauty of this workout is you can get through all your weight training in 35 minutes, and most of that time is spent just standing around, recovering between exercises.
Combine this with a lowish carb/high protein diet and you'll look like Jessica Ennis in no time
It's a good idea to have a little notebook so you can keep a note of everything you did and what your weights should be, to make sure that the all important progressive overload is happening - you can even make a sad little spreadsheet
like I do.
Finally, a workout like this requires you to make a comprehensive mental adjustment to what you think is an 'appropriate' weight. I used to do the 3x30 sets on 'lady' weights thing - e.g. 15kg on chest press and 80kg on leg press. In 4 months I built up to 45kg on chest press and 160kg on leg press...
Malinois I am interested in what you have said about only doing 1 set of 10-12 reps and failing on the last one. It would certainly be better for me as my gym time is limited (whose isn't??) so it would suit me more than what I do currently which is 3 x 12 reps at high weights. Does it really work?
When you say have 3 minutes rest between exercises, do you mean between each rep or between each different weight machine?
My weights are similar to yours - in fact I quite often go on a weight machine after a man and have to increase the weight
CBGB it really worked for me. I started doing it because after I went back to work after mat. leave, I didn't have time to go to the gym after work and wanted to go at lunchtime instead so needed a very quick routine. I was tipped off by a bloke at work who does 'natural body building' i.e. he doesn't actually take any drugs.
If you are currently doing 3x12 and switch to a 1x12 I think you will be able to safely increase weights by 10-20%. The key is to have very slow cadence, I count 5s up and 5s down on every rep. as eccentric contraction (e.g. lowering a barbell) is very important in triggering muscle growth apparently.
Yes, I meant 3 minutes rest between each machine/exercise, not between each rep.
Malinois I tried that workout this morning and it was hard!! I could feel myself sweating with the effort and my muscles shaking afterwards which I have not felt for a l ong time!!
Went into a cardio class after which I think shook the 'wobbliness' out of my muscles but not sure I will be able to move my limbs tomorrow
Not sure if I did it right though as I put all my weights up by 5-7.5 kg but could just about manage 8 reps with them...is this ok and do I just work my way up to 12?
CBGB - good, it's supposed to be hard! If you are doing 12 reps, I would aim for a lower limit of 9. So, if you can't get to 9 for two workouts running, you need to drop the weigh a little bit. Then as soon as you hit 12 reps - you increase the weight on the next workout.
Another thing to think about is to ditch isolation exercises and concentrate on multijoint exercises. Actually, I think one of the articles that you posted said to do this so you've probably already done it.
- Leg press
- Chest press
- Shoulder press
- Lat pull down
- Total ab machine
- Seated cable row
- Barbell curl
These are all big exercises that use multiple joints and muscle groups rather than isolating a particular muscle. Currently I do the chest and shoulder press on the machine but when I get a bit stronger I think I might go to free weights, if I can find a spotter!
cwm - I would say any exercise where you are lifting a barbell over your chest or head, and you are anticipating failure, it would be safer to have a spotter.
I am in agony today my arms, back, chest and shoulders are hurting SO much...and I am off to a Combat class tomorrow
Malinois thank you for your advice - I feel I had reached a plateau with my weight training and this has pushed me off. I do a similar routine to yours but our gym doesn't have a total abs machine (that I am aware of) so can only do abs on the floor
CBGB - is that Body Combat? I've been thinking of doing a class, basically to increase speed, flexibility, movement range etc. Is that a good one?
Sorry you are sore, but it is just DOMS and you won't feel it the next time
Malinois yes it is Body Combat. It is absolutely ace - I am a total addict and go twice a week. It is a good all-round workout - good for arms/shoulders (lots of punches) and legs (lots of kicks and squats). Definitely try it
Was expecting my arms and legs to feel much worse today as it is usually on the second day that they hurt the most but whilst they were aching a lot in Combat this morning, since I got home, I have hardly felt them at all!
Am going to do the routine again one night this week (not sure which yet).
Going to the gym today and will ask about classes, I'm a wee bit nervous about classes as I just picture myself flailing around like one of the puppets off Team America
Everyone is like that the first time they come so just stand at the back or at least behind someone who looks like they might know what they are doing Also, no-one will be watching you as they are all busy concentrating on what they are doing and the instructors say it takes 3 times before you pick it up so you need to stick with it.
There is a poster at our gym for one of the other classes with the tag line of 'You are only new the first time' (or something like that) - very true!
Give it a go
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