Resistance training is an amazing way to improve your strength and increase your muscle mass. There are many different ways to utilise resistance training to meet your goals. Today we are going to look at a variety of approaches that you can try.
You may find that one approach is better suited to you than another, but it is always a good idea to mix up your training approach from time to time. This helps to prevent your progress from plateauing, and ensures that you remain challenged - both physically and mentally - by your exercise regime.
Using the basic set approach is a common technique for beginners, or for those who are more interested in maintaining the muscle mass that they have as opposed to working towards muscle growth. However, the basic set approach can bring about improved muscle mass if you work to increase the weight over time.
With a typical basic set you would choose one exercise that targets one muscle group, and then do a set of that exercise followed by a period of rest before you begin the next set.
If you have many different exercises to get through with each workout, then this can be quite a time consuming way to exercise. This is especially the case if you are lifting heavy weights, and therefore require more time between sets to recover.
This is why the following approach can be a good choice....
A superset is the act of doing one exercise after another with no rest period in-between. The rest period then comes after the completion of the second exercise, and then the superset is repeated. This is in contrast to the basic approach where you would take a short rest in between each set.
One of the most appreciated advantages of doing supersets is how much quicker the workout becomes. You are essentially doing twice as much exercise in the same amount of time as you would with basic sets.
There are two different ways that superset exercises can be performed.
The first way is known as an opposing muscle group superset. With supersets of this kind you are working two different muscle groups, which means that the muscles used in the first set have a chance to recover whilst the second part of the superset occurs.
An example of an opposing muscle group superset would be the shoulder press and then the leg press.
The second way is known as a same muscle group superset. This involves choosing two exercises that target the same muscle group and then do them one after the other with no rest in-between. This helps to really exhaust the muscle group in question and is a great way to target a particular area of the body.
The pyramid approach is considered to be one of the most effective ways to build muscle and to improve all-round strength. You may choose to either do ascending pyramids or descending pyramids.
Ascending pyramids involve starting out with light weights and then increasing the weight with each set. This is advantageous for saving time because it means you can use your first set as your warm-up set. Warming-up before lifting is important because it prepares your muscles for what is about to happen and therefore reduces the risk of injury. It is important to bear in mind that you shouldn’t take your muscles to failure during the lighter sets, as you will want to reserve your strength for the later, heavier sets.
As you increase the weight during an ascending pyramid, you may also choose to lower the repetitions with each set.
You may also choose to use a descending pyramid which, as the name would suggest, works in the opposite way to an ascending pyramid.
This type of pyramid involves starting your first rep with the heaviest weight that you intend to lift, and then decreasing the weight as you continue with each set. As you decrease the weight, you may also choose to increase the amount of repetitions per set.
A descending pyramid is more likely to lead to muscle failure during sets than an ascending pyramid, and is therefore more beneficial for muscle growth.
When utilising the descending pyramid approach it is important that you are already warmed-up for the exercise. Make sure that you have targeted all of the muscle groups that you are going to use during your warm-up.
Lifting for Results
Whatever your fitness goals are when it comes to resistance training, it is important to take things slowly and progress at a comfortable pace. Make sure you are exercising in a safe way, and be sure to leave ample rest time between workouts to allow your body time to recover!