My name is Steven Dell and I just came across your page while researching about maximum muscular development. I was just a little confused about a couple of things.
1- I usually do 3 exercices per muscle group, using the maximum amount of weight that'll allow me to do between 8-12 reps in good form (2 seconds positive and 3 seconds on the negative) I'm confused here cause I was just told by my friend that I should do low reps between 5-7 reps using the maximum weight I can handle in good form in order to maximize my muscle gain. Is that correct?
2- Also, I usually rest a day and a half between work outs. Is that too little or too much? I train Monday morning, Wednesday evening, Friday evening for same muscle group, three days a week only. I appreciate your advice.
Your question regarding repetition range for optimal results, is one of those areas related to weight training, where there will likely always be debate. At least to some degree. The reason I believe that's so, is because even though there are general principles surrounding the repetition efficiency issue, the bottom line truly comes down to individualistic makeup. That is, on the physical as well as physiological level. In other words, what works exceptionally well in providing results for one person, may not necessarily do so for another. General principles do apply though. And then from there, you'll need to apply some trial and error, to find out what works best for you. But before I address the repetition issue, I'd like to talk about your training frequency.
If I'm reading your inquiry right, you're saying you train the same muscle group "three times a week." If that's so, then that's a red flag right there. When training with maximum intensity, and an aim for getting stronger and bigger, three times a week like this is a recipe for overtraining. There's a standard axiom when it comes to training, and it goes like this. (Although for some, it's not so self evident.) The higher the level of intensity you generate through weight training, the more rest and recuperation time you'll require to continue progressing. It's a simple principle, but based on the monumental research in the area of human physical stress, it's a widely accepted truth.
So, that said, it's very likely at this point in your routine and training journey, you're limiting your progress, (if not stunting it altogether.) Only you would know for sure, but if you're not gaining strength and/or size, it's very much a possibility. Almost everyone can
squeeze more out of their training by opting for FEWER training days, LESS volume per workout, rather than more. My suspicion is that this fits you right now. What I suggest you do is cut back on your training to where you train each bodypart only once a week. If you're young (under 30 years old), and find you have boundless energy and feel you recuperate quickly, then maybe, you could get away with training each bodypart once every 4 or 5 days. Although, that's not a necessity and largely something to appease your psyche. I say this, because almost everyone progresses well with a once a week per bodypart regime. If you're over 30, have family obligations, work a full time job, then I'd wholeheartedly recommend you stick with consistently training your upper body once a week, and your lower another. And spread the days within the week, so as to not overlap and wind up overtraining.
Now, back to the rep range question, and what's best. As I said, this is an area where individualization is involved. The general guidelines go like this. If you're training sheerly for strength alone, and don't care about size, then lower reps in the 5 to 7 range is a good starting point. If you're interested in strength AND size, then you have that correct already; the 8 to 12 range is best. If you're only interested in minimal size increases and are more attuned to working your cardiovascular system, while keeping your physique well toned and perhaps with an impressive level of definition, then higher reps are advocated. That would be 12 to 20.
As I indicated, this can boil down to a matter where you'll need to fine tune. In other words, you may find that for mid range repetitions you get better results with the 6 to 10 rep range. Some people might find they'll progress better for strength and size gains, on a program focused within the 10 to 15 rep range. Most people though, can train and gain quite adequately, both strength and size, working within that 8 to 12 range. Your friend is partially right, in that for SOME people, working in the 5 to 7 rep range may be an ideal range to gain strength and size. But perhaps he was injecting his own experience and results in telling you this? According to many decades of trainees that have gone before you and me both, that 8 to 12 rep range seems to be the one that allows people to get the best results while balancing the goal to attain good strength AND size. Stick in that range, and then fine tune things with some experimentation like I said, and then find what works best for you. But don't stray so far from the basic guideline that you get off track, and completely stray from the objective you're after. Good luck! - John Leschinski
Those are two very important questions you just asked, unfortunately YOU are the only one who can truly answer them. Let me explain, when I comes to program design three things must be present for the program to succeed.
an overload of the targeted muscles must occur, (perform more work today than last time)
sufficient recovery must be present to allow the muscles a chance to adapt, (get stronger)
personal enjoyment of the program to promote consistency, (getting stronger takes time)
After that much of what we know about training is personal opinion. In your question you mentioned repetition ranges for optimal development. Let me ask you and your “friend” this question, “how does the body know how many reps it is performing?” To the best of my knowledge there are no repetition counters within our muscles that keep track of total repetitions performed. The muscles react to a stress, in this case lifting weights, if that stress is great enough and time is given to recovery the muscle will become stronger. It is the intensity and consistency of your efforts that will produce maximum gains, not any particular repetition total. So if you are making progress with 8-12 reps than stick with it. If progress stalls than you may want to change things up a bit by trying lower repetitions, 5-7, or even higher repetitions, 15-20. The take home message, is work hard and enjoy what you are doing.
For you second question, “are you still getting stronger?” meaning are your weights and repetitions still moving forward, if so than stick with it. If you are feeling tired or sluggish and are losing the desire to train than cut back to twice a week, or once every third day. There are many combinations, just find the one that works best for you. Good luck. - Doug Scott
Three days a week will probably be just fine. As far as the rep ranges are concerned I don't believe in specific rep ranges that much. The standard thought is: "High reps for cuts and low reps for strength and size." I like to use all rep ranges, high and low. I have been fat while using high reps and lean while using low reps. I like higher reps for a "conditioning effect" and Low reps for a "pure strength" effect. I just have never found that it has that much effect on body comp. When doing higher reps I believe in using as heavy weight as you can handle and not to use high reps as an excuse to use baby weights. You'll have to experiment and see just how it goes for you. Good luck! - Jim Bryan