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  1. #1
    Go hard or go home! GTR's Avatar
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    Lighter weights, more reps; heavier weights, less reps?

    Hi all,

    I basically have 2 months during which I can focus solely on gaining muscle. Specifically, I want bigger and better-defined biceps.

    To achieve this goal, is it better to do, say 3 sets of 8 reps each with relatively lighter weights, than less reps using heavier weights?

    Right now, I can curl around 88lbs (40kg) using the preacher bench, so I think strength isn't much of a problem. However, I've been doing 3 sets of 8 reps each with descending weights (40kg --> 35kg --> 30kg etc). Is this the correct method to "gain muscle" ? Furthermore, I alternate between tight and wide grips so as to exercise different parts of the biceps.

    Is this the correct approach? Cheers!
    Chalk it up and lift, bitch!
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  2. #2
    Banned Mtguy8787's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GTR View Post
    Hi all,

    I basically have 2 months during which I can focus solely on gaining muscle. Specifically, I want bigger and better-defined biceps.

    To achieve this goal, is it better to do, say 3 sets of 8 reps each with relatively lighter weights, than less reps using heavier weights?

    Right now, I can curl around 88lbs (40kg) using the preacher bench, so I think strength isn't much of a problem. However, I've been doing 3 sets of 8 reps each with descending weights (40kg --> 35kg --> 30kg etc). Is this the correct method to "gain muscle" ? Furthermore, I alternate between tight and wide grips so as to exercise different parts of the biceps.

    Is this the correct approach? Cheers!
    3 sets of 8 is ok.. You wouldnt want to descend in weight unless you had to. You shouldnt have to lower the weight unless you are going to faliure, which you should be doing in this case.

    There are all kinds of approaches, but the most effective programs are all based on the same principles.

    Optimum hypertrophy = Sufficient muscle fiber recruitment + enough repetition or total time under tension per workout.

    From the research Ive done, the optimal range for most people is 25-35 reps per bodypart, per workout, for sarcomere (contractile proteins) hypertrophy.

    For sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, one will do more total reps, with slightly less load.

    These ^^ are done with a 1 or 2/0/x tempo.

    More overall load with the same number of reps in the same amount of time is best because you will recruit more muscle fibers, which is always better.

    Alot of people do 3 sets of 10, which isnt bad. If I suggested sets of 3, they would say no, 1-5 reps is for strength.

    IT is if you are lifting as heavy as possible. But if you decrease the load just a bit, you will be able to do 8 or more sets. The overall volume will be the same, and you will be able to use alot more load.
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  3. #3
    Go hard or go home! GTR's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Mtguy8787 View Post
    3 sets of 8 is ok.. You wouldnt want to descend in weight unless you had to. You shouldnt have to lower the weight unless you are going to faliure, which you should be doing in this case.

    Thanks for the helpful tips. I'm descending in weights because the first set is the cruncher; that is, I pretty much use up all my energy to pump out that set, with the heaviest possible weight, without failure on the last rep (but indeed struggling).
    Chalk it up and lift, bitch!
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  4. #4
    Registered User JFraser1's Avatar
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    I personally think that it's best to alter the weights and hence the rep range every other week or so. Whenever I used to just stick to one set routine (where I never altered the rep range that I was failing in) I would tend to peak out for a while and get stuck in a plateu for a very long time, and from that point on, on that particular exercise, I'd rarely improve anymore. Later my brother and I began to switch by adjusting the weights for each exercise so that week 1-2: fail at 10 reps, week 3-4: fail at 6 reps, and week 5-6: fail at 4 reps, and once we hit that targeted number of reps for the given week on a particular exercise we'd go up on weight on that exercise the following workout session. Since we adjusted to this routine neither one of us has ever hit a sticking point, not on any of our 27 different workouts! The whole philosophy behind this tactic is to continuously alter the amount of weight that we're lifting for each exercise every so often by a considerable margin so that our body never fully adapts to a given workout. That way it can't get lazy and too comfortable and decide that it only needs to repair the damaged tissue enough to sustain the next "known" workout. By avoiding this you'll be "shocking" the muscles continously which will stimulate faster growth and less sticking points, if any. This is my recommendation to you, especially if you never even alter the types of workouts that you do.
    Last edited by JFraser1; 12-27-2006 at 12:56 AM.
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  5. #5
    Banned Mtguy8787's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by GTR View Post
    Thanks for the helpful tips. I'm descending in weights because the first set is the cruncher; that is, I pretty much use up all my energy to pump out that set, with the heaviest possible weight, without failure on the last rep (but indeed struggling).

    When your training for hypertrophy, its best to save the all-out effort for the last set. You want to be able to complete all your sets with the most load possible.

    So if you can tone the first set down a bit, you will probably be able to get more load overall.

    If you are doing sets 10 sets of 3 or something, you will not be working with a really heavy weight.. maybe your 5 RM. The first 5 sets will be easy, then they usually start to get harder.


    Training for strength is a different story, and you should do it. The stronger you are, the more weight you can lift in all your workouts, which = better results.

    Right now, I do 10x3 full body one workout, 5x5 full body the next, then 3x5 for a strength oriented workout. After the 3x5, I do a 10x3 that is focused on the parts I want to bring up the most.

    Then I start over.
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