The issue is not really about a specific weight or number of reps. Strength training is all about quality, not quantity - you should be trying to fatigue your muscles with each set in 12 reps or less (fatigue means you feel you cannot do another rep with the correct form).
Once you can do 12+ reps of an exercise, it is time to move up to a heavier weight/more challenging exercise (even if you can initially only do 4-6 reps with the new weight). You indicate in option B you can do 15 reps, so it is time to move up to a heavier weight.
As for the number of sets, Unident is right about the diminishing returns from additional sets. Personally, I prefer 2 sets and use the additional time for more exercises that work a broader range of muscles. But I don't think that those who do 3 sets are necessarily wrong.
Fitness Minutes: (15,040)
9,705 8/18/12 9:07 P
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Fitness Minutes: (1,422)
84 8/18/12 8:56 P
I should probably explain a bit more. I have increased the weight during this time. I can only do upper body workouts due to spina bifida & complete paralysis below the waist. I do plan on increasing my weight more often now that I know what exercises to do. I have been working with a physical therapist. I really wanted to work with a personal trainer but can't afford one. Physical therapists definitely don't push me hard enough - just enough to start a routine. Thanks for the help!
Edited by: FUNICELLO at: 8/18/2012 (20:58)
Fitness Minutes: (56,836)
8/18/12 8:46 P
Option C looks good to me. If you train with heavy weights, you need more recovery time, that is why ST twice instead of 3 times per week is recommended. If you are not lifting so heavy, you can train 3 times a week. But every 2-3 weeks I would increase the weight by 2.5lbs.
Fitness Minutes: (15,040)
9,705 8/18/12 5:46 P
If you've been doing 20 lbs for 1 1/2 months, it's almost certain that you need to up your weights. You should lift challenging weight that fatigues your muscles (where you can't complete another rep with good form) in about 8-12 reps. If you can easily do more than that, you're not challenging yourself enough, and are literally wasting time!
You should chose your weight based on the exercise. If you can lift heavier with proper form then I would encourage you to do so. I use different weights for every exercise, because one weight doesn't suit every exercise.
I do 2 sets of 8-10 reps for most of my exercises. If I up my weight and can't get to 8 then I settle for as many as I can with proper form. I do 2 sets for the same reasons as Deb. I also superset as much as possible. I love my weights routine but I don't want to spend all day at the gym. Work smarter, not longer!
We can't recommend an actual weight to use, that's entirely up to the movement individually and your own personal fitness today. You should never lift exactly the same consecutively. Eg if you did do 3s x 10r @ 20lb today, then next time you do that same move you should be able to do heavier weight or more reps.
Generally speaking, you get around 80% of total benefit from the first set, another 15% from the second set and about 5% from the third set. It's not a pointless waste of time, but personally I feel happy getting 95% of the total benefit and maximising my time by skipping a third set.
I do mine as 2 sets of up to 10 reps. If I can get 10 reps twice, I move to a heavier weight, even if next time it's 2 sets of 4 reps because it's a big weight and much harder to lift. I just keep working on that weight, and when I can do 10 .... next weight! :)
Fitness Minutes: (1,422)
84 8/18/12 3:34 P
I started strength training about 1 1/2 months ago. I started out doing 3 sets x 10 reps @ 20 lbs (70 lbs on the lat pulldown) 2-3 days per week. I recently heard that you only need to do 2 sets rather than 3 when strength training. So, my question is which routine would be better?
A - 3 sets x 10 reps @ 20 lbs B - 2 sets x 15 reps @ 20 lbs C - 1 set x 10 reps @ 20 lbs, 1 set x 10 reps @ 25 lbs, 1 set x 10 reps @ 20 lbs D - something else entirely
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