Types of Training Programs
From Weight Training Fundamentals by David Sandler
Each training method has different set, rep, and resistance parameters. If you are following the overload principle, you will notice that the resistance becomes difficult by the last one or two reps of each set. No matter how many reps are required, the resistance should be challenging once you are familiar with the exercise. If you use weights that are too light, it will take longer to see results. If you use weights that are too heavy, you risk burnout, overtraining, and injury.
Training for Muscular Endurance
To gain muscular endurance, you have two choices. You can either extend the set by completing more repetitions or rest for a shorter amount of time between sets. Generally, a set of 12 to 20 reps should last at least 30 seconds but not more than 90 seconds. A prolonged set will encourage lactic acid buildup. This causes that familiar burning sensation and ultimately leads to fatigue. Aim for one to three sets of 15 to 25 repetitions, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Another alternative is to perform three to five sets of 10 to 15 reps, resting for 15 to 30 seconds between sets.
Training for Muscular Strength
If strength is your goal, you need to use relatively heavy resistance to perform fewer repetitions per set. Rest for two to three minutes between sets. The goal of this type of training is to increase the overall strength of a muscle or group of muscles. Strength training usually includes exercises that work the major muscle groups, such as the bench press, seated row, and squat. For best results, perform one to three sets of six to eight repetitions, resting for two and a half to three minutes between sets.
Training for Muscular Size
Many people who work out want to improve their overall appearance. Increasing muscle size is the number-one goal for most lifters. Hypertrophy is the technical term for building size, increasing mass, or bodybuilding. Despite popular myth, using very heavy weight as in strength training does not promote size increases as rapidly. Hypertrophy training falls somewhere between strength and endurance training. Training for hypertrophy involves a moderate number of reps with moderate to heavy weight and average rest periods. The optimal way to increase size is to perform one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions (usually 10-12), resting for 90 seconds between sets.
Training for Power
Power training is explosive in nature and requires very quick movements using as much weight as possible while still lifting explosively. Only skilled lifters and sport-specific athletes should engage in power training. The true benefits of explosive training have not been satisfactorily demonstrated through research. Therefore, power training should not be attempted except under proper supervision. For true power development, light to moderate weight should be used.
Maximum lifting implies heavy weights and only one to three repetitions per set. Maximum lifting is a good way to find your one-repetition maximum (1RM) but not a very good way to train. Before attempting to perform your max lift, practice proper lifting technique. This type of training is advantageous for power lifters or Olympic lifters but is not appropriate for general fitness enthusiasts or athletes. Furthermore, the rest time between sets needs to be so great that the workouts themselves have a low work output and require a long time to complete. A routine for training strength, hypertrophy, or endurance is better suited to most people.
Finding Your One-Repetition Maximum
For safety, use a spotter or a machine. If you use a machine, remember it will be 10 to 15 percent heavier than the free-weight version.
1. Perform one set of 10 reps with 50 percent of your estimated 1RM. Take a three-minute break.
2. Perform one set of five reps with 75 percent of your estimated 1RM. Take a three-minute break.
3. Perform one set of two reps with 85 to 90 percent of your estimated 1RM. Take a three-minute break.
4. Perform one set of one rep with 95 percent of your estimated 1RM. Take a three-minute break.
5. Add 5 to 10 pounds for one rep on each consecutive set, resting for three to five minutes between sets, until you can no longer perform the rep without help.