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Those of you who know me know that I am an avid weight trainer and former competitive bodybuilder. I go to the gym four to five times a week and I am serious about my workouts. Although, I am focused on my workouts, I do like to observe the other people that surround me when I am resting between sets. One thing I take note of is who is making improvement and who is not. I ask myself, “Why is it that one person exercises five days a week and sees visible progress, while another puts in the same amount of time, and yet there is no evident progress”? What is the former doing that makes him/her successful at the gym?
One thing that I have observed is that the people who keep a record of their workouts and progress are the ones, who 99% of the time make visual improvements in their physical appearance. They are the ones you see walking around the gym with a notepad and pen, jotting down their stats. People who record their workouts are most likely using a training system called Progressive Resistance Exercise. Anyone who uses this system, regardless of age, genetics, or gender will see improvement, will enjoy their workouts more, and see positive changes in their health and in their physical appearance.
Progressive resistance exercise is the foundation of a successful weight training program. It is the foundation of exercise science. Research has proven time and time again that Progressive Resistance Exercise is the most consistent and effective way to improve your physical health and physical appearance.
Progressive resistance exercise which we will refer to from now on by its acronym, PRE, is a system of exercise that stimulates the body to adapt to the stresses that it is subjected to. The body adapts to this stress by increasing in muscle tone/size, increasing in muscle strength, and increasing its healing rate. As its name implies, you employ PRE by increasing the intensity or workload as the body gets stronger. This is ideally done by setting a goal of adding one more repetition or a little more resistance at each workout. The key to successful use of PRE is knowing when your body is ready for the next progression. The best way to tell when it is time to progress is through the use of Repetition Ranges. Research using Repetition Ranges has provided a way to monitor your progress and to develop the kind of muscle tone that you desire.
*Results from different research studies can have varying outcomes of +/-2 repetitions. I have included the entire span of these ranges. It is up to you to find the specific range that your body best responds to.
PRE is made more effective when you incorporate the Overload Principal with it. The Overload principle states that when you subject a muscle to more than it can do or more than it is accustomed to doing it will adapt by getting stronger, increasing in size, and increasing in endurance. The overload principle can be employed in weight training by doing a set to momentary muscular failure. You reach momentary muscular failure when you perform a set until you attempt to do another repetition, but cannot complete it no matter how hard you try. When you overload a muscle your body adapts more rapidly, and you reach your goals in a shorter amount of time. Here is an example of using the overload principle:
You are doing a set of push-ups and so far you have done 26 push-ups. You bring your chest to the floor and attempt to push yourself back up again for that 27th push-up but you can only lift yourself one inch off the floor, and no matter how hard you try cannot complete another push-up. At this point you have reached momentary muscular failure.
Your first task will be to find a weight that brings you to momentary muscular failure within the repetition range of your goal. The following example shows you how to effectively use PRE:
Let’s say that your goal is to build a mild amount of muscle. This means that you want to find a weight that causes you to fatigue between 12 and 20 repetitions. You start with 15 lbs. and reach momentary muscular failure at 10 repetitions. This tells you that the weight was too heavy and that you should decrease the weight. Next, you try 8 lbs. and you reach momentary muscular failure at 21 repetitions. This means that the weight was too light and that you should increase the weight at your next workout. Finally, you try 10lbs and you reach momentary muscular failure at 15 repetitions. Congratulations! You have found an appropriate weight to start you toward the body you want. You should set a goal to do 16 or more repetitions at you next workout. Continue using that weight until you can complete 20 repetitions, at which point you should increase the weight at your next workout.
PRE also keeps your training from becoming boring. Keeping a record of your workouts helps you to set goals for your next workout. It motivates you to try to improve on your performance at every single session. It keeps you interested in your fitness and gives you something to look forward at your next session.