Take this to heart and you will achieve great things with your body
One last word about the whole “high reps burn fat and help you tone” nonsense.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you are using high reps to “tone the body”, please stop now.
High reps with lighter weight do not overload the muscles sufficiently.
If you are failing to overload the muscles, you are failing to stimulate new muscle growth and strength increase.
High reps and low weight for toning is one of those “gym lies” that have just spread like a bad virus.
The only true way to tone the body is to keep lifting heavy weights to stimulate as much muscle growth as possible.
It’s the diet and cardio that has to change in order to tone up.
You have to clean up the diet and begin reducing your calories.
You also have to do your intense cardio sessions to help burn off excess body fat.
Diet and cardio has more to do with the “toning” process than does the weight training.
Now, on to sets.
Muscle building is not an endurance contest.
You’re not out to see who can do the most sets.
In fact, if you do too many sets, you will not gain muscle and strength like you should.
Doing too many sets can lead to over training, which is the death of all your muscle and strength gains.
What leads to over training?
Doing more reps and sets than you need to in order to get the wanted results.
Building muscle is a funny thing.
See, we’ve been brought up to think, “more is better.”
This may be true in some parts of life, but it is certainly not the case in weight lifting and muscle building.
You want quality over quantity any day.
You do not want to do any more than 3 heavy sets MAX on any given exercise.
I actually feel that 2 are all you really need to do.
But those 2 sets must be high quality, intense, bust your butt like there’s no tomorrow sets.
If you do a set without effort and intensity, it doesn’t matter if you do 2 sets or a 100 sets, your results will be limited.
But do 2 sets like the world is on fire and you’ll get really good results.
Please do away with the thought that more is better. Better is better.
The biggest and strongest natural bodybuilders all do between 2 and 3 heavy sets on their exercises.
Pick up a muscle mag in the bookstore and you see many of the “top bodybuilders” often doing 5 or 6 heavy sets.
Well, there is an extra variable to this equation that they use that allows them to handle more work and not worry about the effects of over training.
The main benefit of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs is the fact that they allow you to recover from workouts much quicker, therefore you can handle more sets and more work without having to worry about over training.
But for natural athletes, the risk of over training runs quite high when you start doing more than 2 to 3 heavy sets.
It’s not the number of sets you do that makes a difference in building muscle size and strength; it’s the quality of those sets.
So, with what we’ve talked about so far, here is an example chest routine for building the pecs.
Exercise #1 Flat bench press:
Set 1: 10 reps with a fairly light weight (135 pounds) Set 2: 8 reps with a little more weight (155 pounds) Set 3: 6 reps with a fairly moderate weight (185 pounds) If you feel ready and warmed-up to tackle your heavy’s go at it.
If you feel you could still use another warm-up, put a little more weight on and do a set for just a couple reps.
Alright, now its time for our heavy sets
Set 4: 4-6 reps with your heaviest (225 pounds) Set 5: 4-6 reps with your heaviest (235 pounds)
You should be resting 2 minutes or so in between each of these sets, especially on your last 2 heavy sets.
Now, after you have completed your 2 heavy bench presses, you shouldn’t feel completely wiped out, but you should also feel like you couldn’t do another set as well as you just did those 2.
If you honestly feel as though you could do another heavy set as well or better than you just did those 2, you didn’t work hard enough on those.
You see, the point of only doing 2 sets is to ensure you are giving those 2 sets your 100% all, your max intensity. That will get you farther than doing 100 sets of less intensity.
Okay, we’ve rested at least 2 minutes after our last heavy bench press.
Now its time for our next chest exercise—incline dumbbell bench presses.
Remember, you’ve already warmed up the chest by doing flat bench presses; you do not need to start back at square 1 and warm up again.
Instead, you grab a moderately heavy weight and perform 6 fairly easy reps.
2 minutes later, add a little weight and do another set.
After just those 2 sets, you’re ready for your 2 heavy sets.
Warming up any more would be a waste of energy and time.
So, here’s what we’ve done:
Exercise #2 Incline Dumbbell bench presses
Set 1: 6 reps with moderately heavy weight (65 pounds) Set 2: 6 reps with a little more weight (75 pounds) Set 3: 4-6 reps with heaviest weight (85 pounds) Set 4: 4-6 reps with heaviest weight (90 pounds)
To be honest with you, if you did all of these sets with max intensity and gave it your 100% all, you can stop here–your chest routine is done.
In fact, I only used 2 chest exercises during my prep work for my bodybuilding contest.
But I always used the best chest exercises I could:
Flat bench press with bar or dumbbells Incline bench press with bar or dumbbells.
If you wanted to add another chest exercise to do in this group, I would make it weighted dips.
These are very effective at building the chest and also offer a great range of motion.
But I’d stick with the flat and incline bench presses with bar or dumbbells as your primary exercises for the chest.
I get asked a lot for my opinion on dumbbell flyes and the pec deck machine.
Honestly, I don’t like doing them because they do not offer max weight and max overload to my chest.
For example, I can lift more weight when doing dumbbell chest presses than when I do dumbbell flyes.
Strength coach Lee Hayward has written a cool book on increasing your bench press.
It’s called “Blast Your Bench” and is a routine that focuses on increasing, well, your bench press.
***End Side Note***
More weight= more overload = more muscle.
Plain and simple.
Put all your effort and intensity into those exercises that allow you to lift the most weight each and every time.
Don’t fall for the “shaping exercises” lie.
You CAN’T shape a muscle. It’s been done for you at birth.
You can only make it larger or smaller.
If you want to “shape” it, then begin using the best exercises that allow you to lift the most weight possible each and every time.
This will “shape” your muscles the best way possible.
Here are some comparison exercises and which I feel are better.
Dumbbell chest presses are better than dumbbell flyes.
Standing alternate dumbbell curls are better than seated incline dumbbell curls.
Standing straight bar curls are better than preacher curls.
Bench press is better than the pec deck.
All of the exercises on the left will allow you to use more weight and therefore more overload to the muscles than the exercise on the right.The more weight lifted means the more overload to the muscle. The more overload to the muscle, the more muscle growth is stimulated.
The entire weight training process and Step 3 can be simplified this way:
Lift heavy (4 to 6 reps with max weight) and do 2 to 3 heavy sets per exercise.
Please do not let the simplicity of this fool you.
By doing only 4 to 6 reps and 2 to 3 sets, you are harnessing the most important variable in all of weight lifting—INTENSITY.
When you do 4 to 6 reps of an exercise, you can be extremely intense for that short time.
Same thing with 2 to 3 heavy sets.
It’s much easier to be intense for 2 or 3 sets than it is for 4 or 5.
CONT TO – INTENSITY is factor #1 in this program.