Same Exercises, Same Sets, Very Different Results

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It makes perfect sense. Most men, going to the gym to lift, pick an exercise and keep adding weight until they can’t even do a few reps. While most women, if they do go to the gym to lift weights, pick an exercise and keep removing weight until they can’t make it any lighter. The men believe; they must push beyond their capability to get strong so they can build a perfect body, and the women believe they must do as many reps as possible, to “burn” their body into a smaller dress size.  Well not so fast. Besides major differences in hormones, sporting a muscular male “rig” or a “toned and tight” female body, starts with muscle. And, one of the best shortcuts to more muscle, which means improved body composition, is understanding how to focus and gauge the work you do in the gym.

 

Sets x Reps x Weight = The “Work”

 

Research has consistently proven that for building muscle, and increasing your bodies ability to store energy from food you eat in muscle, not fat (yes, ladies and gentlemen), performing a higher-volume of work through multiple-set programs, performed in the moderate 6-12 rep range are best.

 

 

Scientists believe this is due to greater amounts of work being performed by the target muscles, which really does make more sense than what’s commonly believed.

 

The amount of work you do for each bodypart, in a single workout, is calculated by multiplying; sets x reps x weight. So 5 sets of 8 with 100-lbs = 4000–lbs total weight lifted. Exercise scientists call this number volume, but we’ll call it “work”.  By tracking total weight, not max weight, or reps in a given exercise you’ll have a much better gauge for progression. Here’s an example using a typical “get to my max weight” pyramid plan, men often use in the standard bench press:

 

Set 1––135-lbs for 15 reps = 2025 (warm up)

Set 2–– 225 for 8 reps = 1800

Set 3––275 for  6 reps = 1650

Set 4––295 for 2 reps = 590

Set 5––315 for 1 (maybe) = 315

Total= 6380-lbs lifted

 

To a lifter this looks great since they hit the magic 315-lb bench. To someone looking to build a better body it’s a disaster, because if you stay within 6-12 reps it would look something like this.

Set 1––135-lbs for 15 reps = 2025 (warm up)

Set 2–– 185 for 12 reps = 2280

Set 3––  200 for 10 reps = 2000

Set 4––  200 for 8 reps = 1600

Set 5–– 215 for  6 reps = 1290

Total= 9195-lbs lifted or 44% more WORK than the example above.

 

Here’s an example for women in the leg extension:

Set 1––30-lbs for 15 reps = 450 (warm up)

Set 2–– 40 for 15 reps = 600

Set 3––  30 for 15 reps = 450

Set 4––  25 for 15 reps = 375

Set 5–– 20 for 15 reps = 300

Total= 2175-lbs lifted

 

But if she stays within 6-12 reps it would look something like this:

 

Set 1––30-lbs for 15 reps = 450 (warm up)

Set 2–– 50 for 12 reps = 600

Set 3–– 60 for 10 reps = 600

Set 4––  70 for 8 reps = 560

Set 5–– 75 for  6 reps = 450

Total= 2660-lbs lifted or 22% more WORK than the example above.

Same exercises, same sets, very different results.

 

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