Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Train Like an Olympian

Training tends to follow fads and trends (like everything else). Popular programs go out of style and others become the "next best thing." Everyone is looking for the magic number of sets and reps when it comes to building muscle and losing fat. With so many different options recommended, it is difficult to choose the best workout routines (reps and sets) to build muscle, add lean body mass and/or lose body fat.

Consider some of the options: We have the typical bodybuilding 3×12 set and rep routine. Powerlifters concentrate on one max rep. The 6-8 rep range is the staple of many workouts. Then there is the high rep range using dozens of reps with light weights that do not produce good results of any kind, because you’re not stressing your muscles enough.

I personally have done every version when I first started this passion and did not have a strong understanding of how the body reacts to training.

Whether you are an experienced lifter or just beginning, I highly recommend the 5 x 5 compound moves routine. This routine is not a new fad. It is a classic program used by many recognized strength coaches including those training Olympic athletes. The 5 x 5 can trace its history back to the years when people trained for functional strength and a more trim, strong and athletic appearance. This method is an excellent way of training.

The 5 x 5 even has some different interpretations. The “variation” I prefer is the ascending 5 x 5. I ramp up the weight with each set of 5. The goal is a progression every single week.

Here is my typical routine using the Barbell Bench (a compound move): Warm up with the bar (45lbs), then with 95 lbs for 5, then with 135 for 5. Then I start my 5 x5. During the first week: 155lbs for 5, 165 lbs for 5, 175 lbs for 5, 185 lbs for 5 and finally, 195 lbs for 5. Then the next week it looked like this: The warm up is still exactly the same. Then my 5x 5: 155 lbs for 5, 170 lbs for 5, 185 lbs for 5, 195 lbs for 5 and cap it off with 200 lbs for 5. Then the next week: Warmup the same. Then my 5 x5: 155 lbs for 5, 170 lbs for 5, 185 lbs for 5, 200 lbs for 5 and attempt 210 lbs - failed at 3. I now stick to this weight progression until I can get all 5 in my 5th set. Then I progress.

One exception to the 5x5 program is the deadlift. Deadlifts are so taxing on the central nervous system that you should not use sets of 5. After your warm up lifts, go to single rep sets.

Do not add too much weight too fast. Stay true to good form and progress every week. Adding too much weight too fast and you will fail.

There will come a time when you plateau. Then you will need to change routines and force the body to continue to be challenged. I will address this in another blog entry.
Here's the key -- No matter what, always use a heavy enough weight so that the last rep is a struggle, but not such a struggle that you compromise good form. On occasion you also should go to muscle failure (last repetition is so difficult that you cannot squeeze out one more).

As my favorite t-shirt says: “Anything over 5 reps is cardio.” I love that saying !!!!!

Stay tuned………..

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