8. Weight of the load

When it comes to weight selection, there is a fairly common belief that the heavier the weight you work with, the more muscle mass you will build. This is only true up to a point. If you work with too much weight, you will increase muscle strength and only slightly muscle mass. Very heavy weights will not allow you to perform the optimal number of repetitions and, therefore, the execution time of muscle contractions will be short, so the necessary biochemical shifts in the muscle fiber will not have time to occur.

So what weight is needed so that you can perform the right number of repetitions with it? To answer this question, it is necessary to determine in what units we will consider the weight. If we use kilograms, we will get a biased assessment, because everyone has different strength abilities. We need something else, a unit of measurement that would allow people with different strength abilities to choose the weight that suits them. And such a unit of measurement was found. It was decided to express the required weight as a percentage of the weight with which you are able to perform only one repetition.

This solution allowed you to specify the required weight in percentages, which made it much easier to determine the optimal weight for all people, regardless of their strength abilities. For example, you know that the optimal weight you need for a job is 50% of the weight with which you can perform one repetition of the horizontal bench press. For a person who can perform one repetition in this exercise with 100 kg, 50% would be 50 kg, and for someone who can only bench press 50 kg, the optimal weight (in this case) would be 25 kg. Thus, having found out in what units we will express the necessary weight, let’s move on to the consideration of the question posed.

In order for you to increase muscle mass, you should use in your training weights in the range from 50 to 85% of the maximum (Mach). No lower than 50% and no higher than 85%. You may have a question, “Why exactly in that range?”. Let’s break it down. With different weights you can perform different number of reps, but we already know that we need a strictly defined range of reps – from 7 to 12, so we need to know exactly how many reps you can perform with different weights.

The data below will familiarize you with the approximate number of reps you can perform with different weights, expressed as a percentage of your maximum weight:

– with a weight of 100% (i.e. maximum) you are capable of performing 1 repetition,
– with a weight of 95% (of the maximum, or Max) – 3 reps,
– with 90% of Max – 5 reps,
– 85% Max, 7 reps,
– 80% Max – 10 reps,
– 75% Max – 12 reps,
– 70% Max – 14 reps,
– 65% Max – 16 reps,
– 60% Max – 18 reps,
– 55% Max – 20 reps,
– 50% Max – 22-23 reps.

So why is the lower limit a weight of 50% of Mach? Yes, because glycolysis is the main source of energy supply when performing muscle contractions of maximum duration of 2 – 2.5 minutes. During this time, with an average repetition rate of 6 seconds, you will do 20-25 repetitions. Therefore, as a rule, bodybuilding does not use weights with which you can perform more than 25 repetitions. The only exception is in certain cases.

The upper limit is a weight of 85% of Max, because this weight allows you to perform the minimum number of repetitions, which stimulates the muscle to grow.

So, by training with weights that allow you to perform 8 to 12 reps, you will increase muscle mass. And training with weights that allow you to perform 12 to 25 reps will result in working the “smaller” muscle fibers and, as a result, the appearance of muscle definition and fine detail.

At this point the following question may arise, “Why was the duration of one repetition taken as 6 seconds?”. I’ve heard people starting out in bodybuilding say that it makes no difference at what speed to perform reps, because the same muscle is still working. Of course, the muscle works the same. But how does it work? If you decide to build your own body, you should be interested in the most effective exercises for this purpose, the most effective modes of performing these exercises, and the most effective technique.

Let’s get back to the topic of “the more weight – the more mass”. Here’s what Lee Haney, eight-time Mr. Olympia, had to say on the subject:

“…it is extremely important to always perform the exercise correctly, without throwing the lifted projectiles, because there is a direct correlation between the weight you use in precise form and the mass of the muscles that move that weight.

With regards to weights, most people don’t understand how I built my 70cm thighs, even though I didn’t use weights greater than 160kg in my squats. The secret is good form, good control. You have to make the connection between muscle and mindset. This is absolutely crucial. People when squatting come down hard and kick back, and they don’t have time to tense their thigh muscles, to really focus on the movement, the action and its effect..

My definition of “good form” is the advice to never use weights so large that you can’t isolate the effect on a specific muscle. When I do arm flexion, you’ll never see me using a 50-pound dumbbell because I don’t trust the swing of the weights above and below. I like a smooth training style where I have full control of the barbell or dumbbell.”

Surprisingly, the statement “the more weight, the more mass” somehow completely ignores the notion of the exact form of the exercise. The end result is an interesting thing – you are working for mass, performing 10 reps per approach, and your training partner performing the exercise next to you is also working for mass and also performing 10 reps. But there is some difference in this idyll – you perform the reps faster than he does, and as a result, the total time to complete your 10 reps is 20 seconds, while your partner’s is 60 seconds. This is a real example from my practice – for exactly the same number of reps, the total time of the exercise can differ by 3 times. But the two of you think you are working on the same system, and you will be surprised that your partner, when performing the same 10 reps, has better results than you. Why is this possible? The answer is simple: because of a misunderstanding of the fact that the number of reps performed is just a reflection of the time it takes to perform the exercise.

It’s not the number of reps you perform that matters, it’s the duration of those reps. It’s the duration of the exercise that matters!

But that’s not all. If you perform reps at a too fast pace, you will set the initial acceleration of the projectile, and part of the way he will literally “fly” by inertia. But you need to work the entire length of the muscle. If the projectile “flies” part of the way, it does not involve muscle fibers or that part of them, which was “responsible” for lifting the projectile on this part of the way. You punish yourself. You do not need muscles developed in separate parts, but beautiful muscles with a solid volume and correct shape. That is why you should lift the projectile (perform overcoming work) slowly. At the very least, if for some reason you are unable to perform reps slowly, you will have to increase the number of reps so that you are in the right time range.

Going back to the example of doing 10 reps at different tempos, if you do 10 reps in 20 seconds, (performing one rep in 2 seconds), then in order to achieve the same duration as your partner (60 seconds), you will have to do 30 reps, not 10 (if you keep the average duration of one rep at 2 seconds). And this will not, in any way, be a relief work.

There is another aspect to this issue. In order for a skeletal muscle to contract, it must receive a certain amount of impulses from the central nervous system. When skeletal muscles work intensively, not only the muscles that took part in the work get tired, but also the functional systems of the body, the work of which allows to perform muscle contractions. Let’s say that since the nervous system takes an active part in the contraction of skeletal muscles, obviously it must also fatigue. The heavier the weight you are working with, the harder the nervous system must work. The greater the number of nerve impulses must be sent to the working muscles.

In fast-twitch muscle fibers, low frequency impulses (7-10 impulses per second) produce only a slight tension and the same amount of force, medium frequency impulses (25-30 impulses per second) produce moderate tension and force, and high frequency impulses (45 and above) produce maximum tension and maximum force. If you are performing reps at a fast pace, in the lowering phase, at the very end point, the projectile that is falling down must be stopped by applying more force than the average amplitude of the movement. This requires an inhomogeneous supply of impulses from the central nervous system, with large variations in the number of impulses and sudden jumps in frequency increase. By performing repetitions at a fast pace, with jerks, you make the nervous system work harder, thus causing deeper fatigue. Therefore, you should work at a slow pace, without accelerations and jerks during the exercise. You can, of course, object, saying that weightlifters work at a fast pace. But I think their goals are somewhat different. Isn’t it? In this case, we are talking only about work aimed at increasing muscle mass.

One more question remains to be answered: why should we lower the projectile slower than lifting it? During the development of training methods it was noticed that muscles can work in eccentric mode (inferior mode, when the muscle is stretched under the influence of an external force) with much heavier weights than in concentric mode (or overcoming). You can lower a weight in a controlled manner that is 40-60% greater than what you can squeeze or pull up just once. Therefore, when you work with a weight that you have only been able to lift once (maximal weight), it is maximal for the squeeze (overcoming mode) only. You could say that you will be “resting” if you lower the weight at the same rate as you lift it. To somehow equalize the load in squeezing and lowering the weight, we decided to perform lowering slightly slower. By performing the overcoming work in 2 seconds and the yielding work in 4 seconds, you will load the muscle about equally in both concentric and eccentric modes.

Now that you have information on the proper form of the exercise, you can move on to describing the different working methods.

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By | 2023-11-13T00:14:30+03:00 November 13th, 2023|Articles|0 Comments

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