Friday, 1 November 2013

Choosing the Right Weight: It’s all about Feel

The sets, reps and rest you use in a workout are what determine how much weight you will use. This requires a bit of trial and error. After your first few workouts you will know exactly how much weight to use during your 21 rep sets compared to your 8 or 5 rep sets. The same exercise will feel very different simply by changing the amount of rest and the number of repetitions you do. Through my experience from training with world class athletes I know what reps and sets should ‘feel’ like. This feeling is your best indicator that you are using the right amount of weight. I’ve included an explanation of the feeling you should experience for each of the different rep ranges.

Once you know how each set should feel you’ll have a better idea of how to choose your weight. You can obviously do 5,8 or 13 reps with a weight that you can do 21 reps with. The trick is knowing how to choose the right weight for a 5 rep set compared to the 8,13, and 21 rep set. This is a key factor in maximizing the effectiveness of your workouts.

21 reps

Light weights you can handle in good form up to the 21st rep. These sets should be a gradual increasing burn feeling. The first 13‐15 reps should be a constant flow gradually becoming more difficult. Past the 13th – 15th rep you will experience a noticeable increasing ‘burn’ in your muscles.

13 reps

Moderate weights you can handle in good form up to the 13th rep. If you can do a 14th and 15th rep in good form then the weight is too light. Choose a weight that becomes much more challenging at the 11th rep and requires more concentration to finish the 12th and 13th rep in good form. You should notice the ‘burn’ feeling around the 8th‐9th rep.

8 reps

Heavy weights you can handle in good form up to the 8th rep. If you can do a 9th and 10th rep in good form then the weight is too light. The proper weight should become very challenging by the 6th or 7th rep, the 8th rep should feel like the last you can do in proper form. All 8 reps should be challenging although you will not feel as much of a burn during these sets as your 13 rep sets. The muscular effort to move this type of weight does not produce the same ‘burn’ as high rep sets. The end of an 8 rep setshould feel more like an overall muscular exhaustion.

5 reps

Maximum weights, all 5 reps will feel challenging to complete in good form. These sets require maximum concentration from the first to the last rep. You will most likely not experience any ‘burn’ sensation during your 5 rep sets. Longer rest periods during the 5 rep sets allow you to use heavy weights for each set. Complete each set in good form. It is ok if you find you cannot use the same weight from set to set. Adjust the weight down so you can complete 5 reps on each set. Do not take a longer rest period to handle heavier weights. Also do not speed the rest period up as this will cause you to use lighter weights than required. Take the full 120 seconds rest and only use weights you can manage while sticking to this rest and rep range.

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