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By Robert Spencer
When it comes to staying healthy and building muscle, there has only really been one tried-and-true method that everyone shares. Sure, someone may come up with a new idea every now and then but usually they are just alterations of the formulas that we have used in the past.
When it comes to building muscle the classic method has always been: 3 sets of 7 exercises for each body part and a high protein diet.
While that has been proven to work, it is easy to plateau after a while and sometimes you just need a workout that’s specifically designed for you, your body, and your schedule. So let me show you how to create a plan that can work best with your specific body type and routine.
#1) Keep Track of Your Workout
It’s important to keep track of what you are currently doing, what your current status and numbers are, and what your goal is. If your goal is to remain at your current activity level and weight, you’re personal routine may fluctuate depending on your interest level. In other words, you may just want to mix it up to keep it interesting.
However, if your goal is to either lose weight or build more muscle, you will want to keep track of your numbers so that you can track your progress. Keeping track of your workout (on paper) may seem tedious and troublesome but it will come in handy.
Make sure that you’re writing down the date and time of your workouts (sometimes you may find that you are closer toward achieving your goal when you work out at a specific time).
Weight yourself daily (before the workout). It may not be a good track of weight loss (because you could be losing weight but building muscle – which may appear as either weight gain or a steady number). However, it is helpful to know for reference.
Track your cardio workouts (and how intense they are), mood, types of exercises that you do, how many sets of each, the length of the workout, where you worked out, and leave a space for comments.
You can either write these down in a waterproof notebook that you can keep in your gym bag, or print a spreadsheet that you can make copies of and put in a binder.
#2) Customize Your Sets
Depending on your notes in your workout log, you can adjust your sets accordingly. But what do you start at? Well, I suggest that you start with one set but you go until you reach (what a lot of professionals call) “technical failure.” If you’ve heard the term “failure” before (not uttered by your parents), it means “working out to the point of muscular failure, AKA when your muscles just won’t do it anymore.
Technical failure is when you’re doing reps but then your muscles get so tired that they start executing the repetitions in bad form. Record how many reps you can do until you reach technical failure. That is your initial rep set. Write it down, work at it, and monitor your form.
#3) Do Both Low and High Numbered Reps
When it comes to reps you have to work on lower reps in order to work on your contractile units of muscle tissue. That helps to build up your strength. When you do higher reps, you increase the muscle fibers which produce energy. Because they both benefit you on different levels, I suggest doing both. During one workout, use heavier weights at a lower rep count (around 5 reps) and on another workout use a lighter weight to do more reps.
You’ll have to test and see which weights allow you to do 5 reps before you reach technical failure and which weights allow you to reach 10 reps before you reach technical failure.
Now it’s your turn. Based on your experience, what weight training methods worked best for you?