So you’ve decided to start weightlifting. Maybe you’ve seen those guys and girls on magazine covers and want to get that form, maybe you want cross train for a sport, or maybe you finally want to go toe-to-toe with that jar of pickles. Whatever your reasoning, you shouldn’t just strut into the gym and lift the heaviest thing you first lay eyes on. Why do different people go in with different routines? Well, depending on your goals, here’s how to maximize your strength workout.
3-5 reps: Strength
This looks easy on paper. “Five reps? Ha!” You might say to yourself. The thing is, you’re going to be at 80-90% of your maximum weight, or one rep max (ORM). That’s heavy. It’s “I drop this, I end my life” heavy, in some cases. But you will not see better results in terms of developing muscular performance than this regimen.
Don’t buy into the hype of looking fat, either. Serious, competitive lifters come in all shapes and sizes, from your archetypical “strongman” to girls that look like cheerleaders. Depending on your intensity and diet, you can end up with a body shape that looks blocky and solid or Wonder Woman.
6-12 reps: Hypertrophy
If you’ve decided you want a more V-shaped body, hypertrophy will be your friend. This training method involves more reps per set, but a slightly lower percentage of your ORM, 60-80% here. This is a large portion of the work bodybuilders and fitness models use, but there are a couple of misconceptions about the regimen, because of that.
1. This will make you enormous, no matter what. If that’s what you want to do, you’re still going to have to put a ton of work into it. That means eating a ton of calories (5,000/day or more, in some cases) and spending hours at the gym, often twice a day. If you just want a more ripped appearance, though, you can pull this off without looking like a roidasaurus.
2. They’re just show muscles. Are people who train this way generally weaker than those who use the previous method? Yes. That said, the people in this category can still have tremendous strength, as you tend to develop when you lift stuff for hours a day.
15+ reps: Endurance
When you drop the percentage of your ORM and double the amount of reps, you start getting into some interesting territory. The catch here is that instead of the 90sec to 3min rest period, you’re only taking 1-2min between sets. Normally, this kind of training is reserved more for athletes that depend more upon finesse or extended activity in their field or often for rehabilitation purposes.
If you’re starting from the very beginning, this is a very good method to use in order to prepare for heavier lifting later on. You’ll still gain a little mass, as well, but nowhere near the amount of the other two. The popularity of bodyweight training has also propelled this method to the forefront of fitness.
The extreme end of this method focuses on powering through your lactic acid threshold, which is a painful, but toughening experience. There are other ways of doing that, though, such as sprinting repeats, so if you seek that benefit, don’t think this is your only option.
Check out more of Jordan Beaubrin at her blog, https://realfitj.wordpress.com/ or on Instagram @realfit_j