Generally speaking, if your goal is to increase your strength, a good method would be to have a small number of reps (3 max) with a large amount of weight (where you would give a 100%). Muscle growth is achieved by doing more reps (8-12, depending on the exercise).
Muscle endurance is achieved by doing more than 15 reps, but know that a large number of reps won’t contribute to the increase of your muscle strength or growth, so athletes that focus on developing more power should avoid that.
After scheduling your muscle groups in order, it’s time to schedule the exercises within your training sessions. Each exercise should be distributed by following these steps:
- The beginning – choose one heavy exercise (4 sets of 8-12 reps) such as squats, bench press, dips, deadlifts and so on. The goal is to choose an exercise that’s complicated while you’re still fresh in order to commit to it and give everything you got. Remember to perform the exercise correctly. Once you master the technique, you can add more weights.
- For muscle groups that need more than one exercise (shoulders or legs), you might want to add up to two more heavy exercises and do 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Isolate – this will allow you to focus on a specific muscle (such as a quad). You can perform this by doing:
- More reps (15)
- Descending reps (10-15 with the appropriate amount of weight, after which you should do another set of 10-15 reps with 50% of your strength)
- Super-sets (where you need to do two exercises in a row for the same muscle group without taking a break – for example, chest press + pec fly)
The important thing is to concentrate on the muscle group you’re doing, in order to completely work it out during your training session. The number of isolation exercises depends on how complex the targeted muscle group is.
The number of sets depends on your training goal and the way in which the training is performed. First of all, it’s necessary to determine the type of your sets.
Warm-up – sets relate to simple preparations that get your body ready for those heavier sets. Their goal is simply to ease the pressure on your targeted muscle areas. When it comes to the working sets, there are a few of them:
Decreasing sets – performed at the very end of your training, you start them by giving everything you got, and once you finish the first set, you immediately decrease the weight until you can do the exercise at 50%, and from that point, you climb the ladder until you reach the maximum, starting weight.
Super-sets – are also used near the end of a training session. Without taking a break, you are supposed to switch from one exercise to another (that focuses on a different muscle group).
Descending scheme – after your warm-up, start an exercise with the most weight you can carry, push or pull, and slowly take down the weight as you progress.
Ascending scheme – the exact opposite of the previous scheme. Start slow and add weight as you progress.
Sets-across – each set is performed with an equal amount of weight and reps. These sets build power, but do not get the most out of your muscles.