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Saturday, 28 November 2015

Excellent muscle gain article...


Just found this on Lyle's site.

It's an excellent article on the effect of different rep and set ranges.

I've always been a fan of lower rep ranges (5 to 8); lower set ranges (2-3) and higher rest periods (3-5 mins). The article shows nicely that this is still a good choice for both strength and size gains, but with the warning that lower reps with higher sets tends to stress the nervous system and lead to injury and fatigue.

I'm currently experimenting with fine-tuning my rep and set ranges based on how each muscle group responds to reps in the range of 5 - 15. I think I've settled on my "optimal" reps and sets based on the following protocol:

For several weeks, I trained each exercise with a set of 5 reps, then 10 reps, then 15. As always, when I was able to lift a weight for the assigned number of reps, I would increase the weight the following week. After several weeks I could then determine what the maximum weight I could lift for each exercise and each rep range. Being a total spreadsheet and graph nerd, I produced the following:


It shows a best fit curve for all of the exercises that I do (Leg Press, Deadlift, Weighted Chins, Weighted Ring Dips, One-Arm DB row, DB Bench).

Three important things stick out from this graph:

1) DB Bench quickly suffers loss of strength as the reps increase.
2) DB Row maintains a good weight through all rep ranges.
3) All other exercises behave similar to each other - suffering only slight losses in strength as reps are increased.

This probably indicates that, at least for me, the biceps contain more slow-twitch / endurance-type muscle fibres and the triceps contain more fast-twitch / strength-type fibres.

As a result, I have modified my sets and reps slightly to the following routine:

Workout A:

Leg Press / Squat
(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 30 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 50 kg)
7x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 100 kg)
10x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 90 kg)

Weighted Chins
7x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +35 kg)
11x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +25 kg)

DB Rows
(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 10 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 20 kg)
10x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 40 kg)
15x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 36 kg)


Workout B:

DB Bench
(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 12 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 22 kg)
5x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 45 kg)
8x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 40 kg)

Deadlift
(10x reps warmup set @ 25% weight - e.g. 50 kg)
(10x reps warmup set @ 50% weight - e.g. 70 kg)
7x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. 140 kg)

Weighted Ring Dips
6x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +30 kg)
8x reps at maximum weight for that rep range (e.g. +20 kg)

I've found each workout takes around 1 hour, which is ideal for me. I'll do Workout A, then rest the next day, then do Workout B. Thus, I'm going to the gym every other day and hitting each muscle group every fourth day.

Note that there's only one set of deadlifts. I've found this an intense exercise and that one set is all that is needed. (Having recently set a record for my weight category in a drug-free powerlifting competition, the evidence seems to back this theory up too!)


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