How do you know how to determine the best workout plan? Fitness magazines, books, and websites all suggest workout plans with a specific amount of sets and reps to do per exercise, but how do you know if this is the correct amount for your level and your goal? This article will help you determine the best workout plan for your exercise level and goals.
It is very important to determine what your fitness goal is before starting an exercise program. To set your goal use the S.M.A.R.T guidelines, meaning your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. There are three primary fitness goals in resistance training, these goals include Hypertrophy, Muscular Endurance, and Muscular Strength.
Hypertrophy is an increase in muscle size or mass.Hypertrophy is an increase in muscle size or mass. This is one of the most popular goals for resistance training as it gives your muscles a toned, defined look without “bulking up”. If your goal is to increase your muscle size your workout plan should consist of 8-12 repetitions, performed in 3-4 sets, with a 45-60 second break between sets. This means that you should be able to perform 8-12 repetitionss with great form, if you can continue to lift pass the 12 repetition mark your weight is too light. If you struggle to reach 8 repetitions lower the amount of weight you are lifting to help prevent injury.
Muscular Endurance is performed to increase stamina resulting in an enhanced ability to perform at a submaximal level for an extended amount of time. You heart rate should stay at a consistent rate throughout your workout and you should allow a short rest period between sets. If your goal is to increase muscular endurance, your workout plan should include 3 sets of 15-20 repetitions with no more than a 30 second break between sets. This short break is to ensure your heart rate stays at a high enough level to gain stamina.
Muscular Strength is performed to exercise at heavier workoads enhancing strength.Muscular Strength is performed to exercise at heavier workloads enhancing strength. This is a good technique to vary with Hypertrophy if you are fairly advanced in resistance training. If you are a beginner or new to resistance training it is strongly suggested that you start at the Hypertrophy level until you have reached a confidence in your form for each exercise. However, if you consider yourself more on the advanced size and are looking to gain strength and power than you will want to perform 3 -6 sets of 4-6 repetitions with a 2 – 3 minute recovery break.
Whether you have decided to train for muscular endurance, hypertrophy, or muscular strength one thing holds true for all three goals and that is form. Be sure to concentrate on each exercise and what muscle group it is working. While performing the exercise think about the muscle group being worked and focus on performing each with a steady, controlled movement throughout the entire motion. A good rule of thumb is to count a 3 second concentric motion followed by a 3 second eccentric motion. Rest periods are very important as well, if possible invest in a heart rate monitor with a timer to set the correct recovery period so you stay on task and gain the best results for each workout plan. Last but not least, do not forget to breathe. Breathe out on the most difficult range of motion, usually the concentric motion and breathe in on the easiest range of motion, the eccentric motion.
Hypertorphy: an increase in muscle size or mass
Muscular Endurance: an increase in stamina, an enhanced ability to perform at a submaximal level for an extended period of time.
Submaximal: less than the maximum of which an individual can lift
Muscular Strength: to exercise at a heavier workload to enhance strength and power
Concentric: muscle fiber shortens (i.e. upward motion of bicep curl)
Eccentric: muscle fiber lengthens (i.e. downward motion of bicep curl)
American College of Sports Medicine; Resources for the Personal Trainer; Third Edition
Merrium-Webster 2012; http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/