Weights are important in bodybuilding. As a matter of fact, you can’t think of bodybuilding without lifting some weights. These two have always been connected with each other.
One of the most common concerns in bodybuilding is if they are exercising using the right amount of weights. Determining the ideal amount is critical. Using too little weights will not get you to your desired muscle mass. Using too much, on the other hand, can put a strain on your muscle and could possibly leave you with an injury.
So what’s the right amount of weights that you should use?
Read on to know the answer.
How to Train for Muscle Size
Training for muscle size takes a different approach than training for muscle strength. Regardless of your fitness level, you should use the right amount of weight that can maximize your muscle growth. A weight that can let you do 8-12 reps is the ideal amount for muscle size.
Once you’re done with your 12th rep and you feel like you can still do 13th, 14th, and so forth, that means that your weight is too light. On the other hand, your weight is too heavy if you’re pushing yourself too hard that you can’t make it to the 5th rep. A true set means that you are almost on the verge of muscle failure but you can still carry on to the next rep.
Effective Tips in Increasing Muscle Size with the Right Amount of Weights
Here are some of the effective tips in increasing muscle size using the right amount of weights:
- Use heavier loads and cluster them – Break your sets into 2 cluster sets instead of using moderate weights and aiming for 8 reps. Take 30-60 seconds between each cluster. Your muscles will grow faster when you put an increased amount of tension on your muscles.
- Be explosive when lifting heavy – Some of us try to actively lift slower during the concentric phase. This should not always be the case, especially if you want to build more muscle mass. Instead, you should be explosive from the bottom of the lift.
- Try using drop sets – Drop reps is a good alternative to performing reps to failure. Do your initial set with your normal training load then cut the load of your next set by 25-50%.
- Use real lifts – If you want a uniform muscle growth all throughout your body, you should perform presses, deads, and squats. These multi-joint exercises are always featured on Schwarzenegger’s exercise.
How to Train for Strength
We all have one goal in mind – to get stronger.
If you want to increase your strength, you would need to perform multi-joint movements like deadlifts, squats, and bench presses. These multi-joint movements use more than a single set of joints. You will be able to lift heavier weights since you recruit more total muscle mass.
Fast-twitch muscle fibers are the actual muscles that you’re recruiting when you’re performing heavyweights. These muscles can grow bigger and stronger during resistance training. You should take note though that you should not lift heavy weights for a long time since these muscles can strain easily.
Right Amount of Weights for Strength Training
So what’s the right amount of weights if you’re training for strength?
Just like if you’re training for muscle size, the right amount of weight should still enable you to perform 8-12 reps.
Training for strength though would require you longer rest. You should take an ideal rest time of 3-5 minutes between sets so you give your muscle ample amount of time to recover and get ready for the next set. Before you lift heavy weights, don’t forget to warm up beforehand.
Strength begets size. Once you have increased your strength, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights. In return, you’ll get bigger muscles. You will be stronger across the board once you jump to a muscle-building routine after doing your strength training. With the increased strength, you’ll be able to increase your weight on 8 reps from 275 pounds to 305 pounds.
How to Train for Muscle Endurance
While most bodybuilders aim for size and strength, there are others who want endurance.
The approach to muscle endurance is completely different from size and strength training. You should use very light weights for endurance training, the ones that will enable you to do 15-20 reps or more.
During endurance training, you’re engaging the slow-twitch fibers rather than the fast-twitch. Unlike the other twitch variety, these muscles don’t grow significantly in size. They are also built to be used for longer activities.
With muscle endurance training, you’re doing body movements or weight lifting that are challenging but easy enough for you to be able to perform more reps. Once you have reached 20 reps, you can move up your weights. Muscle endurance training is a combination of endurance and strength training. As your endurance increases, you must also increase your strength. Otherwise, you won’t be able to grow your muscles.
Relationship Between Weights and Reps
The first step towards your bodybuilding journey is recognizing which kind of training you would like. It’s easier to start planning and achieve your goals once you have identified whether you are training for size, strength, endurance or combination of these.
If you’re training for strength and size, you should perform relatively few repetitions with heavier weights. On the other hand, if you are training for endurance, perform more reps using lighter weights.
The amount of weight and the number of repetitions have an inverse relationship. As the weight goes higher, you make fewer reps. When you use lighter weights, you can make more repetitions.
Knowing the right amount of weight to use for your specific exercise and goal is important. You can’t just pick up a barbell and do as many repetitions as you can until your muscles are about to pop. Regardless if you have a personal trainer or training by yourself, you should always use the right amount of weight.
Bodybuilding is not just about lifting heavy weights like a monster. It’s about using the right methods and tools that will help you achieve your body goal.
Chabut, L. (n.d.). The Importance of Repetitions in Weight Training. Retrieved from https://www.dummies.com/health/exercise/weights/the-importance-of-repetitions-in-weight-training/
Geiger, B. (2018). How Much Weight Should You Lift?. Retrieved from https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/how-much-weight-should-you-lift.html
Wendler, J. 10 Strength-building Strategies That Will Never Die. Retrieved from https://www.mensjournal.com/health-fitness/10-strength-building-strategies/
5 Training Tactics to Increase Muscle Size. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.trainwithpush.com/blog/5-training-tactics-to-increase-muscle-size