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A complete weight training workout can be performed with a pair of adjustable dumbbells and a set of weight disks (plates).

Weight training is a form of exercise for developing the strength and size of skeletal muscles. It is a common type of resistance training, which is one form of strength training. Properly performed, weight training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being.

In one common training method, the technique involves lifting progressively increasing amounts of weight, and uses a variety of exercises and types of equipment to target specific muscle groups. Weight training is primarily an anaerobic activity, although some proponents have adapted it to provide the benefits of aerobic exercise.

Weight training differs from bodybuilding, weightlifting, and powerlifting, which are sports rather than forms of exercise. Weight training, however, is often part of their training regimen.




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An early plate-loading barbell and kettlebell

explained the principle behind weight training when he wrote "that
which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away."
Progressive resistance training dates back at least to Ancient Greece, when legend has it that wrestler Milo of Croton trained by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day until it was fully grown. Another Greek, the physician Galen, described strength training exercises using the halteres (an early form of dumbbell) in the 2nd century.

The dumbbell was joined by the barbell in the latter half of the 19th century. Early barbells had hollow globes that could be filled with sand or lead shot, but by the end of the century these were replaced by the plate-loading barbell commonly used today.[1]

Strength training using isometric exercises was popularised by Charles Atlas from the 1930s onwards. The 1960s saw the gradual introduction of exercise machines
into the still-rare strength training gyms of the time. Weight training
became increasingly popular in the 1980s, following the release of the
bodybuilding movie Pumping Iron and the subsequent popularity of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since the late 1990s increasing numbers of women have taken up weight training, influenced by programs like Body for Life.

Basic principles

A repetition
(or "rep") is the act of lifting and lowering a weight once in a
controlled manner. A "set" consists of several repetitions performed
one after another with no break between them. The number of repetitions
per set depends upon the aims of the individual performing the
exercise. Sets with fewer reps are performed using more weight.
Repetition tempo is also an important factor.

According to popular theory:

  • Sets of one to five repetitions primarily develop strength, with less impact on muscle size and none on endurance.

  • Sets of six to twelve repetitions develop a balance of strength, muscle size and endurance.

  • Sets of thirteen to twenty repetitions develop endurance, with some increases to muscle size and limited impact on strength.[2]

  • Sets of more than twenty repetitions are considered to be an aerobic exercise.

Individuals typically perform one to six sets per exercise, and one
to three exercises per muscle group, with short breaks between each
set. The duration of these breaks determines which energy system the
body utilizes: for example, performing a series of exercises with
little or no rest between them is referred to as "circuit training", and the body will draw most of its energy from the aerobic energy system (as opposed to the ATP-CP or glycogen systems).

It has been shown that for beginners multiple-set training offers
minimal benefits over single set training with respect to either
strength gain or muscle mass increase, but for the experienced athlete
multiple-set systems are required for optimal progress.[2][3][4]

Training to achieve different performance goals (from "Supertraining" by Dr. M. C. Siff)


Variable Strength Power Hypertrophy Endurance
Load (% of 1RM) 80-100 70-100 60-80 40-60
Reps per set 1-5 1-5 8-15 25-60
Sets per exercise 4-7 3-5 4-8 2-4
Rest between sets (mins) 2-6 2-6 2-5 1-2
Duration (seconds per set) 5-10 4-8 20-60 80-150
Speed per rep (% of max) 60-100 90-100 60-90 60-80
Training sessions per week 3-6 3-6 5-7 8-14

Weights for each exercise should be chosen so that the desired
number of repetitions can just be achieved. Each exercise should be
performed according to its description; otherwise injury may result. This is known as "good form."

Progressive overload

In one common method, weight training uses the principle of progressive overload, in which the muscles
are overloaded by attempting to lift at least as much weight as they
are capable of. They respond by growing larger and stronger.[5] This procedure is repeated with progressively heavier weights as the practitioner gains strength and endurance.

However, performing exercises at the absolute limit of one's strength (so-called "one rep max"
lifts) is considered too risky for all but the most experienced
practitioners, or novices under expert supervision. Moreover, most
individuals wish to develop a combination of strength, endurance and
muscle size. One repetition sets are not well suited to these aims.
Practitioners therefore lift somewhat smaller (sub-maximal) weights,
with more repetitions, to fatigue the muscle—and all fibres within that
muscle—as required by the progressive overload principle.

Commonly, each exercise is continued to the point of momentary
muscular failure. Contrary to widespread belief, this is not the point
at which the individual thinks they cannot complete any more repetitions, but rather the first repetition that fails due to inadequate muscular strength. Training to failure is, however, a controversial topic. The proponents of High Intensity TrainingMike Mentzer, Arthur Jones and Ellington Darden—advise training to failure on every set [1]. But other experts believe that this will lead to overtraining, and suggest training to failure only on the last set of an exercise.[6]
Some practitioners recommend finishing a set of repetitions just before
the point of failure; e.g. if you can do a maximum of 12 reps with a
given weight, only perform 11.

Weight training can be a very effective form of strength training
because exercises can be chosen, and weights precisely adjusted to
safely exhaust each individual muscle group after the specific numbers
of sets and repetitions that have been found to be the most effective
for the individual. Other strength training exercises lack the
flexibility and precision that weights offer, and often cannot be
safely taken to the point of momentary muscular failure.


There are many theories as to why weight training creates muscle growth. One such theory is that this training causes microtrauma
to the muscles. Muscles grow during the rest period following a workout
by repairs to these areas of muscle, making them stronger than before.
Weight training programs should therefore allow the muscles time to
repair and grow, otherwise overtraining
can occur. Therefore the individual should exercise caution in
increasing the level of exertion. Muscle growth is normally completed
within 36 to 96 hours, depending upon the intensity of the workout.[7][8]
Novices commonly work out every other day, often scheduling workouts on
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As weight trainers grow fitter and
stronger, it takes more intense workouts to fully challenge their
muscles. More advanced practitioners may exercise specific muscle
groups only every three or four days.

One solution to scheduling workouts around these needs is to split
one's routine between several workouts, by exercising certain muscle
groups on one day and the remainder on another. One common two-day
split is the upper body — lower body split. Another is the front — back
split, in which the pectorals, triceps and quadriceps are exercised on one day, and the lats, biceps and hamstrings
on another. There are also three-day and four-day splits. By targeting
different muscle groups, workouts can be scheduled more frequently than
would otherwise be possible.


The benefits of weight training include greater muscular strength,
improved muscle tone and appearance, increased endurance, enhanced bone
density, and improved cardiovascular fitness.

Many people take up weight training to improve their physical attractiveness. Most men can develop substantial muscles; most women lack the testosterone
to do this, but they can develop a firm, "toned" (see below) physique,
and they can increase their strength by the same proportion as that
achieved by men (but usually from a significantly lower starting point)
[2]. Ultimately an individual's genetics dictate the response to weight training stimuli.


The body's basal metabolic rate increases with increases in muscle mass, which promotes long-term fat loss and helps dieters avoid yo-yo dieting [3]. Moreover, intense workouts elevate the metabolism for several hours following the workout, which also promotes fat loss [4].

Weight training also provides functional benefits. Stronger muscles improve posture, provide better support for joints, and reduce the risk of injury from everyday activities. Older people who take up weight training can prevent some of the loss of muscle tissue that normally accompanies ageing—and even regain some functional strength—and by doing so become less frail [5]. They may be able to avoid some types of physical disability. Weight-bearing exercise also helps to prevent osteoporosis.
The benefits of weight training for older people have been confirmed by
studies of people who began engaging in it even in their 80s and 90s.

Stronger muscles improve performance in a variety of sports.
Sport-specific training routines are used by many competitors. These
often specify that the speed of muscle contraction during weight training should be the same as that of the particular sport.

When performed properly and at sufficient intensity, weight training provides an excellent stimulus to the cardiovascular system. The heart and lungs support the muscular system; as one taxes the muscles, the systems that support them are taxed. Some exercise physiologists argue that aerobics training is a better cardiovascular stimulus due to their observation of maximal oxygen
uptake estimates. However, the test used to determine maximal oxygen
uptake is flawed at the higher levels of exertion seen with safe,
controlled, and intense strength training. Central catheter monitoring during resistance training reveals increased cardiac output, thus illustrating the strength training's potential for cardiovascular exercise.

One side-effect of intense exercise is that it increases levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine, which can help to improve mood and counter feelings of depression [6].

Common concerns

Is weight training the same as bodybuilding?

Although weight training is similar to bodybuilding,
they have quite different goals. Bodybuilders compete in bodybuilding
competitions, so they train to maximize their muscular size and develop
extremely low levels of body fat.
In contrast, most weight trainers train to improve their strength and
endurance while not giving special attention to reducing body fat below
normal. Weight trainers tend to focus on compound exercises to build
basic strength, whereas bodybuilders often use isolation exercises to
visually separate their muscles, and to improve muscular symmetry.
Pre-contest training for bodybuilders is different again, in that they
attempt to retain as much muscular tissue as possible while undergoing
severe dieting.

However, the bodybuilding community has been the source of many of
weight training's principles, techniques, vocabulary, and customs.

Is nutrition relevant for weight trainers?

Most people think of dieting in terms of weight loss, but weight trainers can also adjust their diet to improve the results from their workouts. Adequate protein is required for building skeletal muscle. Various sources advise weight trainers to consume a high protein diet with anywhere from 0.6 to 1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight per day (1.4 to 3.3 g per kg) [7] [8].
Protein that is not needed for cell growth and repair nor consumed for
energy is converted by the liver into fat, which is then stored in the
body. Some people believe that a high protein diet entails risk of kidney damage, but studies have shown that kidney problems only occur in people with previous kidney disease [9].

A light balanced meal consumed prior to the workout (usually one to
two hours beforehand) ensures that adequate energy and amino acids are
available to perform the intense bout of exercise. Water is consumed throughout the course of the workout to prevent poor performance due to dehydration [10].
A protein shake is often consumed immediately following the workout,
because both protein uptake and protein usage are increased at this
time [11]. Glucose (or another simple sugar) is often consumed as well since this quickly replenishes any glycogen lost during the exercise period (see Gainer). Some weight trainers also take supplements (such as creatine) to aid muscle growth. However, the effectiveness of some products is disputed and others are potentially harmful.

Do women who train with weights look "bulky"?

Very few women are able to develop large muscles regardless of the
program they follow; they simply lack the testosterone required to
achieve this [12]. Normally the most that can be achieved is a look similar to that of a fitness model. Muscle is denser than fat, so someone who builds muscle while keeping the same body weight will look slimmer [13].

The results obtained by female bodybuilders are extremely atypical:
they are self-selected for their genetic ability to build muscle; they
perform enormous amounts of exercise; and they often take anabolic steroids, or other drugs with similar effects [14].
The muscular look is exaggerated by their very low levels of body fat.
Unless a woman dedicates her life to weightlifting, she will never
achieve the same results as professional female weightlifters.

Are light, high-repetition exercises effective for "toning" muscles?

Some weight trainers perform light, high-repetition exercises in an
attempt to "tone" their muscles without increasing their size. This
comes from misunderstanding the meaning of the word "tone." What most people refer to as a toned physique
is one that combines reasonable muscular size with moderate levels of
body fat. The use of the word "tone" in this sense is inaccurate: a
more appropriate term would be "definition".

Muscle tone is a physiologic term that refers to the
constant, low-frequency contractions that occur in all muscles all the
time, even at "rest", which prepare them for future activity. This
continuous slight tension in torso muscles contributes to maintaining
good posture. High-repetition exercises should increase muscle size,
but will not improve the latter type of muscle "tone". Even performed
as aerobic exercises they will have limited benefit, since aerobic exercise is most effective when it engages the whole body.

To define muscles requires a combination of weight training to
increase muscle size and cardiovascular training to reduce bodyfat


Is weight training safe for children?

Orthopaedic specialists used to recommend that children avoid weight training because the growth plates on their bones
might be at risk, but recent studies have shown that this concern is
unfounded. The very rare reports of growth plate fractures in children
who trained with weights occurred as a result of inadequate
supervision, improper form or excess weight. "Growth plate injuries
have not occurred in any youth strength training study that followed
established training guidelines."[15]
The National Strength and Conditioning Association also confirms that
"a properly designed and supervised resistance training programme is
safe for children." [16]

Young children must be supervised around weight training
equipment. Like adults, they may be injured if a weight is dropped, or
if they perform an exercise incorrectly. Children may also forget to
follow the safety guidelines, or be tempted to act irresponsibly.

Can weight training help me slim?

Yes, but not via the low weight/high repetition approach that is
usually used. Five minutes of crunches will expend only a small
fraction of the energy used up in five minutes of running, because the
abdominal muscles are so much smaller than the leg muscles. [17]
Instead, high weight/low rep exercises can be used to maintain (and
possibly even increase) the body's muscle mass while dieting. This
helps to prevent the metabolic slowdown that otherwise often limits the
effect of dieting and causes post-diet weight gain. [18]


The back must be kept straight during the squat and the deadlift.

Weight training can be one of the safest forms of exercise,
especially when the movements are slow, controlled, and carefully
defined. However, as with any form of exercise, improper execution can
result in injury. When the exercise becomes difficult towards the end
of a set, there is a temptation to "cheat", i.e. to use poor form to
recruit other muscle groups to assist the effort. This may shift the
effort to weaker muscles that cannot handle the weight. For example,
the squat and the deadlift are used to exercise the largest muscles in the body—the leg and buttock
muscles—so they require substantial weight. Beginners are tempted to
round their back while performing these exercises. This causes the
weaker lower back
muscles to support much of the weight, which can result in serious
lower back injuries. To avoid such problems, weight training exercises
must be performed correctly. Hence the saying: "train, don't strain".

A lifting belt is sometimes worn to help support the lower back.

An exercise should be halted if marked or sudden pain is felt, to
prevent further injury. However, not all discomfort indicates injury.
Weight training exercises are brief but very intense, and many people
are unaccustomed to this level of effort. The expression "no pain, no
gain" refers to the discomfort expected from such vigorous effort. It
does NOT suggest ignoring the more severe pain that comes from injury.

Discomfort can arise from other factors. Individuals who perform
large numbers of repetitions, sets and exercises for each muscle group
may experience lactic acid
build-up in their muscles. This is experienced as a burning sensation
in the muscle, but it is perfectly harmless. These individuals may also
experience a swelling sensation in their muscles from increased blood
flow (the "pump"), which is also harmless.

Beginners are advised to build up slowly to a weight training
programme. Untrained individuals may have some muscles that are
comparatively stronger than others. An injury can result if, in a
particular exercise, the primary muscle is stronger than its
stabilising muscles. Building up slowly allows muscles time to develop
appropriate strengths relative to each other. This can also help to
minimise delayed onset muscle soreness.
A sudden start to an intense programme can cause significant muscular
soreness. Unexercised muscles contain cross-linkages that are torn
during intense exercise.

The Cross Trainer exercise machine can be used to warm up muscles in both the upper and lower body.

Weight trainers commonly spend 5 to 20 minutes warming up their muscles with aerobic exercise before starting a workout. They also stretch
muscles after they have been exercised. The exercises are performed at
a steady pace, taking at least two to four seconds to lift and lower
the weight, to avoid jerks that can damage muscles and joints.

Exercises where a barbell is held above the body, such as the squat or the bench press, are normally performed inside a squat cage, which can catch the bar, or in the presence of one or more spotters, who can safely re-rack the barbell at the end of the set if the weight trainer is unable to do so.

Anyone beginning an intensive physical training programme is typically advised to consult a physician, because of possible undetected heart or other conditions for which such activity is contraindicated.


There have been mixed reviews regarding the use of weightlifting
belts and other devices, such as lifting straps. Critics claim that
they allow the lifter to use more weight than they should. In addition,
the stabiliser muscles in the lower back and gripping muscles in the
forearms receive less benefit from the exercises.

Types of exercises

Isotonic, isometric and plyometric exercises

These terms combine the prefix "iso" (meaning "same") with "tonic"
(strength) and "metric" (distance). In "isotonic" exercises the force
applied to the muscle does not change, and in "isometric" exercises the
length of the muscle does not change.

Weight training is primarily an isotonic form of exercise,
because the muscles are used to push or pull weighted objects. Any
object can be used for weight training, but dumbbells, barbells
and other specialised equipment are normally used because they can be
adjusted to specific weights, and are easily gripped. However, some
exercises are not strictly isotonic because the force on the muscle
varies as the joint moves through its range of motion, even though the
force of the exercise remains constant.

Some forms of weight training use isometric
contractions to further stress the muscles after or during a period of
isotonic exercise. In this case the muscles flex and hold a stationary
position, and no movement of a load takes place.

Another form of training that often uses weights has a different goal. Plyometric exercises
exploit the stretch-shortening cycle of muscles to enhance the myotatic
(stretch) reflex. This involves rapid alternation of lengthening and
shortening of muscle fibers against a resistance. The resistance
involved is often a weighted object such as a medicine ball, but can also be the body itself as in jumping exercises. Plyometrics is used to develop explosive speed, and focuses on power instead of maximal strength, and may be used to improve the effectiveness of a boxer's punch, for example, or to increase the vertical jumping ability of a basketball player.

Isolation exercises vs. compound exercises

The leg extension is an isolation exercise.

An isolation exercise is one where the movement is restricted to one joint and one muscle group. For example, the leg extension
is an isolation exercise for the quadriceps. The other muscle groups
are only minimally involved—they just help the individual maintain a
stable posture—and movement occurs only around the knee joint.

Compound exercises work several muscle groups at once, and include movement around two or more joints. For example, in the leg press
movement occurs around the hip, knee and ankle joints. This exercise is
primarily used to develop the quadriceps, but it also involves the
hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Compound exercises are generally similar to the ways that people
naturally push, pull and lift objects, whereas isolation exercises
often feel a little unnatural.

The leg press is a compound exercise.

Each type of exercise has its uses. Compound exercises build the
basic strength that is needed to perform everyday pushing, pulling and
lifting activities. Isolation exercises are useful for "rounding out" a
routine, by directly exercising muscle groups that cannot be fully
exercised in the compound exercises.

The type of exercise performed also depends on the individual's
goals. Those who seek to increase their performance in sports would
focus mostly on compound exercises, with isolation exercises being used
to strengthen just those muscles that are holding the athlete back.
Similarly, a powerlifter
would focus on the specific compound exercises that are performed at
powerlifting competitions. However, those who seek to improve the look
of their body without necessarily maximising their strength gains
(including bodybuilders) would put more of an emphasis on isolation exercises.

Free weights vs. exercise machines

Swiss balls allow a wider range of free weight exercises to be
performed. They are also known as exercise balls, gym balls, sports
balls, therapy balls or body balls.



Free weights are dumbbells and barbells.
Unlike exercise machines, they do not constrain users to specific,
fixed movements, and therefore require more effort from the
individual's stabiliser muscles. It is often argued that free weight
exercises are superior for precisely this reason. As exercise machines
can go some way toward preventing poor form, they are somewhat safer
than free weights for novice trainees. Moreover, since users need not
concentrate so much on maintaining good form, they can focus more on
the effort they are putting into the exercise. However, most athletes, bodybuilders and serious fitness enthusiasts prefer to use compound free weight exercises to gain functional strength.

The weight stack from a Cable machine.

Some free weight exercises can be performed while sitting or lying on a Swiss ball. This makes it more
difficult to maintain good form, which helps to exercise the deep torso
muscles that are important for maintaining a good posture.

There are a number of exercise machines that are commonly found in neighbourhood gyms. The Smith machine is a barbell that is constrained to move only vertically upwards and downwards. The cable machine consists of two weight stacks separated by 2.5 metres,
with cables running through adjustable pulleys (that can be fixed at
any height) to various types of handles. There are also
exercise-specific weight machines such as the leg press. A multigym includes a variety of exercise-specific mechanisms in one apparatus.

One limitation of many free weight exercises and exercise machines
is that the muscle is working maximally against gravity during only a
small portion of the lift. Some exercise-specific machines feature an
oval cam (first introduced by Nautilus)
which varies the resistance so that the resistance, and the muscle
force required, remains constant throughout the full range of motion of
the exercise.

Aerobic exercise vs. anaerobic exercise

Strength training exercise is primarily anaerobic. [19]
Even while training at a lower intensity (training loads of ~20-RM),
anaerobic glycolysis is still the major source of power, although aerobic metabolism makes a small contribution. [20]
Weight training is commonly perceived as anaerobic exercise, because
one of the more common goals is to increase strength by lifting heavy
weights. Other goals such as rehabilitation, weight loss, body shaping,
and bodybuilding often use lower weights, adding aerobic character to
the exercise.

Except in the extremes, a muscle will fire fibres of both the
aerobic or anaerobic types on any given exercise, in varying ratio
depending on the load on the intensity of the contraction. [21]
This is known as the energy system continuum. At higher loads, the
muscle will recruit all muscle fibres possible, both anaerobic
("fast-twitch") and aerobic ("slow-twitch"), in order to generate the
most force. However, at maximum load, the anaerobic processes contract
so forcefully that the aerobic fibers are completely shut out, and all
work is done by the anaerobic processes. Because the anaerobic muscle
fibre uses its fuel faster than the blood and intracellular restorative
cycles can resupply it, the maximum number of repetitions is limited. [22]
In the aerobic regime, the blood and intracellular processes can
maintain a supply of fuel and oxygen, and continual repetition of the
motion will not cause the muscle to fail.

Circuit weight training is a form of exercise that uses a
number of weight training exercise sets separated by short intervals.
The cardiovascular effort to recover from each set serves a function
similar to an aerobic exercise, but this is not the same as saying that
a weight training set is itself an aerobic process.

Exercises for specific muscle groups

The back extension
should be left to the end of the workout, because in other exercises
the lower back muscles are used to keep the back straight. This is not
possible if the muscles have already been exercised and exhausted.

Weight trainers commonly divide the body's individual muscles into ten major muscle groups. These do not include the hip, neck and forearm
muscles, which are rarely trained in isolation. The most common
exercises for these muscle groups are listed below. (Videos of these
and other exercises are available at and from the University of Wisconsin.)
The sequence shown below is one possible way to order the exercises.
The large muscles of the lower body are normally trained before the
smaller muscles of the upper body, because these first exercises
require more mental and physical energy. The core muscles of the torso are trained before the shoulder and arm
muscles that assist them. Exercises often alternate between "pushing"
and "pulling" movements to allow their specific supporting muscles time
to recover. The stabilising muscles in the waist should be trained last.

Lower body

1. Quadriceps (front of legs)

Compound exercises for the quadriceps also involve the glutes (buttocks), hamstrings and calves.

2. Hamstrings (back of legs)

3. Calves

Upper body

4. Pectorals (chest)

Compound exercises for the pectorals also involve the triceps and front deltoids.

5. Lats (upper back)

Compound exercises for the lats also involve the biceps and rear deltoids.

6. Deltoids and Trapezius (shoulders)

Compound exercises for the shoulders also involve the arm muscles.


7. Triceps (back of arms)

8. Biceps (front of arms)


9. Abdominals (belly)

Compound exercises for the abdominals also involve the hip flexors.

10. Lower back

Some compound exercises for the legs also involve the lower back.

Advanced techniques

A number of techniques have been developed to make weight training
exercises more intense, and thereby potentially increase the rate of

Set structure

Drop sets
Drop sets do not end at the point of momentary muscular failure, but continue with progressively lighter weights.

Pyramiding involves increasing weights and lowering reps. The first
set is performed with a weight that would seem challenging for a higher
number of reps, in subsequent sets this weight is increased and the
reps decreased so that the new weight seems challenging for the smaller
number of reps.

Burnouts combine pyramids and drop sets, working up to higher
weights with low reps and then back down to lower weights and high reps.

Diminishing set
The diminishing set method is where a weight is chosen that can be
lifted for 20 reps in one set, and then 70 repetitions are performed in
as few sets as possible.[9]

Rest-pause (heavy singles)
Rest-pause heavy singles are performed at or near 1RM, with ten to twenty seconds of rest between each lift.[10][23] The lift is repeated six to eight times. It is generally recommended to use this method infrequently.

Combined sets

Supersets combine two or more exercises with similar motions to
maximize the amount of work of an individual muscle or group of
muscles. The exercises are performed with no rest period between the
exercises. An example would be doing bench press, which predominantly
works the pectoralis and triceps muscles, and then moving to an
exercise that works just the triceps such as the triceps extension or the pushdown.

Push-pull supersets
Push-pull supersets are similar to regular supersets, but exercises are chosen which work opposing muscle groups.

Pre-exhaustion combines an isolation exercise with a compound
exercise for the same muscle group. The isolation exercise first
exhausts the muscle group, and then the compound exercise uses the
muscle group's supporting muscles to push it further than would
otherwise be possible. For example, the triceps muscles normally help
the pectorals perform their function. But in the bench press the weaker triceps often fails first, which limits the impact on the pectorals. By preceding the bench press with the flye, the pectorals can be pre-exhausted so that both muscles fail at the same time, and both benefit equally from the exercise.

Breakdowns were developed by Fred Hatfield and Mike Quinn to work the different types of muscle fibers
for maximum stimulation. Three different exercises that work the same
muscle group are selected, and used for a superset. The first exercise
uses a heavy weight (~85% of 1 rep max)
for around five reps, the second a medium weight (~70% of 1 rep max)
for around twelve reps, and finally the third exercise is performed
with a light weight (~50% of 1 rep max) for twenty to thirty reps, or
even lighter (~40% of 1 rep max) for forty or more reps. (Going to failure is discouraged.) The entire superset is performed three times.[11]

Beyond failure

Forced reps
Forced reps occur after momentary muscular failure. An assistant provides just enough help to get the weight trainer past the sticking point of the exercise, and allow further repetitions to be completed. Weight trainers often do this when they are spotting their exercise partner. With some exercises forced reps can be done without a training partner. For example, with one-arm bicep curls the other arm can be used to assist the arm that is being trained.

Cheat reps
Cheating is a deliberate compromise of form in order to achieve
further reps. Cheating has the advantage that it can be done without a
training partner, unlike forced reps.

Rest-pause (post-failure)
After a normal set of 6-8 reps (to failure), the weight is
re-racked and the trainer takes 10-15 deep breaths, and then performs
one more repetition. This process can be repeat for two further
repetitions. The twenty-rep squat is another, similar approach, in that
it follows a 12-15 rep set of squats with individual rest-pause reps,
up to a total of 20 reps.[24]

Negative reps
Negatives are performed with much heavier weights. Assistants lift
the weight, and then the weight trainer attempts to resist its downward
progress. Alternatively, an individual can use an exercise machine for
negatives by lifting the weight with both arms or legs, and then
lowering it with only one. Or they can simply lower weights more slowly
than they lift them: for example, by taking two seconds to lift each
weight and four seconds to lower it.

Partial reps
Partial reps, as the name implies, involves movement through only
part of the normal path of an exercise. Partial reps can be performed
with heavier weights. Usually, only the easiest part of the repetition
is attempted.

Burns involve mixing partial reps into a set of full range reps in
order to increase intensity. The partials can be performed at any part
of the exercise movement, depending on what works best for the
particular exercise. [25] Also, the partials can either be added after the end of a set or in some alternating fashion with the full range reps.[12] For example, after performing a set of bicep curls to failure, an individual would cheat the bar back to the most contracted position, and then perform several partial reps.

X-reps are a variation of burns, but X-reps always occur after
momentary muscular failure. After the last full repetition, an
isometric contraction at the point of maximum force is combined with a
series of small pulsing movements to further stress the muscles. [26] In other words, "go to failure, then do mid-range partials." [27]
However, in a 1997 article Steve Holman states that "X-Rep training is
simply placing a muscle in its completely contracted position, or close
to it, against resistance and holding it there until the muscle can no
longer contract. Once you achieve fatigue overload, you slowly lower
the weight through the eccentric range of motion, and the set is

Other techniques

Super slow
Super slow repetitions are performed with lighter weights. The
lifting and lowering phases of each repetition take 10 seconds or more.

Timed rests
By strictly controlling the rest periods between reps and sets a trainer can reduce their level of blood oxygenation, which helps to increase the stress on the muscles.

Using a wrist strap.

Wrist straps
Wrist straps (lifting straps) are sometimes used to assist in gripping very heavy weights. They are particularly useful for the deadlift. Some lifters, however, avoid using wrist straps in order to develop their grip strength.
Wrist straps can allow a lifter initially to use more weight than they
might be able to handle safely for an entire set. They can also place
potentially harmful stress on the bones of the wrist. For lifters who
desire an overall balance in their muscular development, the use of
wrist straps should probably be avoided. Instead, wrist curls and reverse wrist curls can be done to improve grip strength.

See also

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Many of the most useful books about weight training contain the word
"bodybuilding" in the title, but they should not be overlooked just for
this reason. Weight trainers who are not interested in bodybuilding can
ignore the material devoted to contest preparation, and still obtain
much valuable information.

  • Darden, Ellington (2004). The New High Intensity Training. Rodale Books. ISBN 1594860009.

  • Delavier, Frederic (2001). Strength Training Anatomy. Human Kinetics Publishers. ISBN 0736041850.

  • DeLee, J. MD and Drez, D. MD, Eds. (2003). DeLee & Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine; Principles and Practice (vols 1 & 2). ISBN 0721688454.

  • Hatfield, Frederick (1993). Hardcore Bodybuilding: A Scientific Approach. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0809237288.

  • Kennedy, Robert and Ross, Don (1988). Muscleblasting! Brief and Brutal Shock Training. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. ISBN 0-8069-6758-7

  • Kennedy, Robert and Weis, Dennis (1986), Mass!, New Scientific Bodybuilding Secrets, Contemporary Books, ISBN 0809249405

  • Lombardi, V. Patteson (1989). Beginning Weight Training. Wm. C. Brown Publishers. ISBN 0697106969.

  • Pearl, Bill (2001). Getting Stronger: Weight Training for Men and Women. Shelter Publications. ISBN 0936070242.

  • Powers, Scott and Howley, Edward (2003), Exercise Physiology. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0072557281.

  • Schoenfeld, Brad (2002). Sculpting Her Body Perfect. Human Kinetics Publishers. ISBN 0736044698.

  • Schwarzenegger, Arnold (1999). The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684857219.


  1. ^ Todd, Jan (1995). From Milo to Milo: A History of Barbells, Dumbells, and Indian Clubs. Iron Game History (Vol.3, No.6).

  2. ^ a b Feigenbaum, Matthew S. and Pollock, Michael L. (1997). Strength Training: Rationale for Current Guidelines for Adult Fitness Programs. The Physician and Sportsmedicine.

  3. ^ Laskowski, Edward R. (2004). Strength training: How many sets for best results?

  4. ^ Kraemer, William J. (2003). Strength Training Basics: Designing Workouts to Meet Patients' Goals. The Physician and Sportsmedicine.

  5. ^ Berger, Christopher (1997). Adaptation of Skeletal Muscle to Resistance Training. Sport and Wellness on the Web (Vol.5, No.2).

  6. ^ Stoppani, Jim (2004). Fail—to be strong. Muscle & Fitness (Oct 2004).

  7. ^ Anderson, Owen (??). Recovery Time: To train well, you must find the right balance between hard work and recovery. Peak Performance.

  8. ^ Berardi, John M. (2002). Muscle recovery. Energy Fitness (Dec 2002).

  9. ^ Kennedy, Robert and Ross, Don (1988). Muscleblasting! Brief and Brutal Shock Training. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., p. 17

  10. ^
    Kennedy, Robert (1983). Beef It! Upping the Muscle Mass, Advanced
    Nutrition, Shock-training Strategies. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., p.

  11. ^ Kennedy, Robert and Ross, Don (1988). Muscleblasting! Brief and Brutal Shock Training. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., pp. 16-17

  12. ^ Kennedy, Robert and Weis, Dennis (1986), Mass!, New Scientific Bodybuilding Secrets, Contemporary Books

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