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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 3:08 pm 
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Just starting out with a strength training program, and I want to use the low volume training program I've been reading about here.

I'm confused about the number of reps to perform as a novice. Is it to failure in the 8-12 range, or is it to failure at a slightly higher rep with lower weight?

Here's the source of my confusion from the weight training tips section. http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Tips.html
<i>Untrained participants (less than 1 year of consistent training) experience maximal strength gains with a average training intensity of 60% of their 1 RM or approximately a 12 RM, training each muscle group 3 days per week. Novices weight training 2 times per week may make approximately 80% of the strength gains as compared to training 3 times per week. Trained participants experience maximal strength gains training each muscle group 2 days per week with an average training intensity of 80% of their 1 RM or approximately a 8 RM.</i>

The guidelines I've found on the site don't differentiate between experience level in this regard. But from reading the above it seems that 10-14 would be the better range for novices than 8-12. What do you think?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2006 9:36 pm 
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Esteban wrote:
The guidelines I've found on the site don't differentiate between experience level in this regard. But from reading the above it seems that 10-14 would be the better range for novices than 8-12. What do you think?


You should work towards becoming an expert on yourself. And the best method is to experiment with different methods, and recording the results. Over tiime, you will learn what works for you and what doesn't.

Becoming an expert is not to say that you shouldn't ask advice. Sound advice can save you a lot of needless grief. But unsound advice can leave you spinning your wheels. As you gain experience, you will be in a better position to distinguish between the two.

Start a training diary, and keep a record of reps/sets for exercises and how you respond to them. In general, low reps (<6 per set) build strength, high reps (>12 per set) build endurance, and moderate reps (8-12 per set) build size.

But those numbers are for the hypothetical "average" lifter, who has the typical mixture of fast twitch and slow twitch muscle fibers. Some people - marathon runners, for instance - may have as much as 80% of their musculature as slow-twitch fibers. For such people. low volume training - which targets fast twitch muscle - won't be as productive. Other people - like Olympic lifters - might be the reverse, with 80% fast twitch fibers. For them, high rep schemes to increase endurance might not work that well.

For more info, take a look at this:

http://www.realsolutionsmag.com/ezine/48/issue48a.asp

If you're a real novice, you should pay more attention to your form than the amount of weight that you can lift. Learning good form when lifting will protect you from injuries down the line. I'm not a fan of low volume, heavy training for people who don't have at least 6 months of weightlifting under their belt, but do what you have to do.

Good luck.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 3:14 pm 
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Thanks for the advice.

I read the article on fast/slow twitch muscles. This is no doubt an advanced subject. I haven't bought into the idea of training differently based on muscle type. If one is training for strength and size, it doesn't make sense to attempt this by concentrating on fatiguing the slow twitch, at the expense of the fast twitch, regardless of your own muscle composition. The fast twitch that you do have will respond and bring whatever strength and size your genetics will allow.

As far as my original question about reps for beginners, I came across several references to the most recent ACSM guidelines, which may not be published yet. This has put my mind at ease, and meshes nicely with your advice to learn what works for me.

Here's the excerpts from the Guidelines, with the portions in bold that directly address my question. From http://www.naturalstrength.com/feedback ... cleID=1264

In a shift from its prior position stand statement about progressive resistance training for experienced trainees1, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in its 7th edition of its Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription2, now endorses much simpler training programs as effective for both beginners and experienced trainees.

A majority of the recommendations from the Guidelines book were presented at the recent ACSM national convention without disagreement.

Here are some of the points and recommendations from the new guidelines that you can effectively use for your own training.

Perceived effort is a good measure of intensity. Rather than focusing on protocols that use different percentages of 1 RM, focus on perceived effort. Using different percentages of 1 RM is not a good way to prescribe exercise programs.

This is because across individuals, and different muscle groups, and different exercises, the same percentage of a 1 RM can yield a different number of repetitions. Such differences can exist within an individual. This means that for some people and for any exercise an individual performs, the prescription can be too hard or too easy, rendering it ineffective.

Different repetitions and resistance can yield the same degree of effort when the maximum repetitions are performed in a set. This means that a wide range of repetitions for a set can be equally effective.

For example, a very high degree of effort and intensity can be reached in a set where you perform six repetitions in good form with a heavy resistance and ‘fail’ on an attempt at a seventh repetition or where you perform 12 repetitions with a more moderate weight and ‘fail’ on an attempt at a 13th repetition.

In either case, the maximum recruitment of muscle fiber motor units would have occurred. You can choose to train with any number of repetitions with an effective set taking between about 30 seconds and 90 seconds.


There is no evidence that there is a separate way to train for strength or endurance. As you become stronger, you will increase your absolute muscular endurance. For example, if through training, you increase your strength in a movement from 60 lbs to 85 lbs, you may increase the number of repetitions you can perform with 40 lbs from 12 to 20. No special training is required to increase endurance.

For each person and for each exercise and muscle group, relative muscular endurance is stable and appears genetically based. For example, a beginner’s 1 RM on an exercise may be 100 lbs and the trainee can perform 8 repetitions with 80 lbs (80%).

Two years later, the trainee can do a 1 RM with 200 lbs and perform 8 repetitions with 160 lbs (80%). Relative endurance using a percent of 1 RM hasn’t changed and evidence indicates that it will not change. Protocols assuming that the relationship can be changed are not based on scientific research.

Based on raising a resistance in about 3 seconds and lowering the resistance in 3 seconds, performing several to 15 repetitions can be effectively used. If longer duration repetitions are performed such as using a 5, 5 (10 seconds for 1 repetition) then several to 8 to 10 repetitions can be used.

Increasing bone mineral density may depend upon using somewhat lower repetitions such as 6-8 and therefore training with somewhat greater resistance. A variety of exercises can be used because the effect of resistance training on bone mineral density is site specific.

To increase strength, training has to produce an overload beyond a minimal threshold. Maximum effort produces maximum intensity and the greatest stimulus but the maximum stimulus may not produce any greater adaptation than a somewhat submaximal effort if there is some marginal overload. This means you should focus on progression while using great form and not an absolute maximum effort where form may be compromised.

Train through as complete a range of motion that is comfortable for you.
Assuming all the other variables are kept constant, the intensity of training can be increased by increasing the weight, number of repetitions, and by reducing momentum through increasing the repetition’s duration. Muscular tension for an exercise may be maintained and intensity increased by not ‘locking-out’ on multiple joint exercises such as squats and bench press.

There is no evidence that any one exercise is better than any other exercise for a specific muscle group. There is no evidence that performing an exercise a specific way such as on a stability ball produces better outcomes for strength or endurance than if the exercise is performed in another way. The exercises are simply different.

A variety of exercises can be used for each muscle group and can perhaps provide some physiological and psychological benefits beyond consistently performing the same exercise for a muscle group. However, a variety of exercises for each muscle group need not be performed in one training session but rather across training sessions.

While a few researchers have shown better outcomes for strength and muscular hypertrophy with multiple set protocols, the overall evidence does not support the performance of multiple sets of each exercise or higher volume training.

A guideline is to take about 3 seconds to raise the resistance and about 3 seconds to lower the resistance using a full range of motion for each repetition. Longer duration repetitions may decrease momentum and increase intensity.

There is not any consistent evidence that the stimulus (repetition performance, number, duration, volume of training) for experienced trainees needs to be different than for beginning trainees. Therefore, there is little or no basis for special ‘advanced’ routines promoted by some organizations, websites, and magazines.

A program for any trainee can consist of eight to 10 exercises performed two to three days per week. Different exercises for each muscle group could be varied across workouts. For example, a squat can be used for the thighs in the first workout in a week and the leg press can be used in the second workout.

Training should be on two or three nonconsecutive days in the week.

Rather than the time consuming and complex guidelines and protocols that were recommended from the ACSM’s prior position stand and other organizations, the current state of the science recommends a far more efficient approach to training. Efficient and simpler training programs also are likely to result in greater adherence and more consistent training. In that way, the new guidelines should also produce better outcomes.

More details about these guidelines and simple training routines based on these guidelines will be in the August Master Trainer. Here is one starting point. An effective routine can consist of a compound and isolation movement for one set each for larger muscle groups and one exercise for one set for smaller muscle groups.

References:

American College of Sports Medicine. Position Stand: Progression models in resistance training for healthy adults. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2002; 34: 364-80.

ACSM. (2005). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (7th ed.). Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2006 4:00 pm 
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Esteban wrote:
I read the article on fast/slow twitch muscles. This is no doubt an advanced subject. I haven't bought into the idea of training differently based on muscle type. If one is training for strength and size, it doesn't make sense to attempt this by concentrating on fatiguing the slow twitch, at the expense of the fast twitch, regardless of your own muscle composition. The fast twitch that you do have will respond and bring whatever strength and size your genetics will allow.


You're a quick study - you will do well in your training

Carry on


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