There are many different methods of planning and grouping exercises to maximize your weight training workout. If you are interested in further muscle development and increasing the intensity of your workout, try one of the following weight training techniques. Keep in mind that it’s important to allow 48 hours for muscle recovery and repair before weight training the same muscle group again.
- Single Set Training: If you are just starting out, single set training (performing one set per muscle group or body part) is a good place to begin. The advantages to performing single sets include time savings and the simplicity of the routine. Perform about six to 12 repetitions in a set, per muscle group or body part.
- Supersets: A superset is defined as any combination of two different exercises and is performed with no rest in between exercises. Bodybuilders commonly superset, since it improves hypertrophy (muscle size) but not necessarily strength. Superset variations include same muscle group supersets, such as a bent arm lateral raise followed by a shoulder press or opposite muscle group supersets like a leg extension followed by a leg curl.
- Giant Sets or Compound Sets: Giant sets or compound sets are groups of four to six exercises, followed by a rest period. An example of a six exercise giant set is as follows: abdominal curl with a twist, decline curl, reverse curl with extended legs, reverse curl with sustained torso lift, extended arm decline curl and elbow towards hip lateral flexion curl. Complete at least eight repetitions of each exercise. Repeat the giant set one or more times. Again, once you learn the different exercises and master the technique you can design your own routine.
- Split Routines: If you like to weight train more than three days per week, a split routine can provide enough recovery time between training sessions to allow you to do so safely. There are many designs. One example of a four day split routine is to split the days so that Monday and Thursday workouts train the legs, buttocks, calves, lower back and abdominals, while the Tuesday and Friday workouts focus on the chest, upper back, shoulders and arms. We enjoy doing this type of workout as it allows you to adequately rest certain muscles while working others.
- Circuit Training: This system moves you from one exercise to another in a specific order, performing one set (usually ten to 20 repetitions) at each station. A short 15 to 30 second rest is taken between exercises. For additional overload, the circuit may be repeated several times.
- Pyramid Training: With this method, a number of sets are performed (with a rest interval after each set), and the intensity and number of repetitions performed are changed with each set. One example is the light-to-heavy pyramid. It involves a combination of sets in which the intensity gradually increases from set to set while the number of repetitions progressively decreases. Forced repetitions: You’ll need a partner to help you perform an additional three to four repetitions after you have reached your exhaustion point. With good spotting technique, this method safely challenges your muscles. But be careful; it should not be used daily because it can lead to over-training or mental burn out.
- Periodization: Periodization has proven very successful for competitive athletes and very serious weight training enthusiasts. It consists of four phases of training, each lasting two to three weeks. The hypertrophy phase is often the endurance training phase. A large number of sets and repetitions are performed at a relatively moderate intensity. During the second phase, strength building, the number of repetitions and sets is reduced and the intensity increased. The third phase, the strength and power phase, again increases the intensity, and perhaps the frequency, of the workout. The last phase is an active rest phase during which a much lower number of sets and repetitions are performed and the intensity of the exercises is decreased.