Sorting Last Post on Top Message:
GRACEFULIFE Posts: 1,705
6/27/13 1:26 P

"Getting a burn" doesn't indicate that you are building strength or muscle.

Anyone who equates "bodybuilder oriented workout" training with strength training is not sufficiently educated on the topic.

If a Div. I coach was having his athletes do only bodyweight training, you either were not observing their training through the entire year, or that coach didn't know how to get the most out of his athletes. The latter is common at that level because by that time the athletes are pretty well weeded out to those with higher levels of talent, will, and genetic potential. And coaches are like anyone else; there are some good ones and some bad ones.

In answer to the OP's question, the reasons people use 3 sets of 8-10 reps are largely historical, but it's probably a good choice for maximal changes in look (not in capabilities). It's OK to do more sets, but you would be better off saving your strength and using more weight in 2 days.

"body weight exercises are the most effective way to build power as well as strength."
FAIL. Really, one here has ever heard of speed sets, power cleans, clean & jerk, or snatch? Nor has the thought come upon anyone that a serious athlete might train for generalized strength and power AND do sport specific training for skills, movements, and energy systems, with the mixture determined by their level?

"its a pain to lug a set of dumb bells in my suitcase"
Dumbbells? LOL. Fail. But I'll admit, it's not easy to travel with a squat rack or a set of bumper plates. But travel days would be perfect to concentrate on other aspects. Bring along the agility ladder. Do lots of stretching. Better still... find out where there's a gym with a squat rack.

Show me a person who can power clean 2/3 their body weight, and I will show you one who can kill anyone who does only body weight exercises at sports like fencing, tennis, swimming, soccer, and squash.

This board needs moar beards! Beardstrong(TM)

FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
6/26/13 4:47 P

Wadingmoose - You are correct. I piggybacked off the original question by asking about bodyweight exercises and the progression to more difficult exercises. I'm not there yet so, I'm not too worried about right now.

For me, I know that I used to think that doing bodyweight exercises were a cop out to using weights. I was wrong. I can feel the burn. But I think people have a different perspective on things. So, I suppose for the original poster, perhaps increasing the weight in the weighted exercises and/or incorporating bodyweight exercises may be beneficial. Perhaps, it is what a person is comfortable doing...

6/26/13 4:33 P

For people who wish to disparage the benefits of bodyweight training I suggest a visit to this site and see what these people can do.

Take a look at what Al Kavadlo, Danny Kavadlo and Adrienne Harvey can do that I defy any bodybuilder oriented workout trained individual to do.

RPS031764 SparkPoints: (176,408)
Fitness Minutes: (197,857)
Posts: 1,252
6/26/13 4:32 P

why not ??

WADINGMOOSE Posts: 1,048
6/26/13 4:24 P

I suspect the original poster's goal is weight loss over anything else and that question was answered without a heavy debate over weighted/body weight exercises.

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
6/26/13 4:18 P

I guess you and I (and this may be a male/female thing) disagree on effective methods and goals of strength training. For me strength training is about being able to move things with power rather than purely lifting heavy objects. So for me, body weight exercises are the most effective way to build power as well as strength. For the sports I listed, full body power and speed are more important than pure strength (have you ever seen a muscle bound swimmer?). And they certainly are more practical for me since I travel 10 days out of 30 and its a pain to lug a set of dumb bells in my suitcase emoticon .

Your goals are most likely different than mine, hence the different perspectives on the subject.

And too be fair, most of this is tangential to my original point that body weight exercises have just as much room for progression as machines (up to approx 2x body weight, who needs to lift more than that anyway?). I just used a terrible example to illustrate my argument.

Edited by: LEC358 at: 6/26/2013 (16:30)
BREWMASTERBILL SparkPoints: (31,088)
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
Posts: 4,114
6/26/13 4:08 P

What does depth have to do with body weight vs. loaded? You can certainly go ass to grass with loaded squats. Depth is a form problem which isn't germane to this discussion.

Also, we're not talking about sports specific training here. We're talking about effective strength training.

So help me out here, where are you going with this?


LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
6/26/13 3:54 P

The funny part is that I regularly see this guy max at 350. 200 is his warmup. When you do bodyweight squat, your bottom should end up about 2 inches from the floor because your knee is fully bent. In this video, the woman isn't going down far enough:
. BTW when I say single leg squats, I mean pistol squats.

It takes a crap ton of strength and power to come up from that position. Granted, my experience was with NCAA Div I sports but in all of these the coaches actively discouraged using machines and free weights for most things in favor of bodyweight exercises: fencing, tennis, swimming, soccer, squash, and track. Pure strength past bodyweight isn't necessary because you still need power and speed which diminishes with increased mass.

Edited by: LEC358 at: 6/26/2013 (15:57)
GRACEFULIFE Posts: 1,705
6/26/13 3:12 P

As was noted, single leg squat is an exercise that is completely balance dependent and doesn't help build strength or power. Further, I bet I could do a better single leg squat with a 20lb dumbbell in each hand. Why? It helps lower my CG, and I can manipulate the weight position (e.g. holding them out in front if necessary) to help balance myself during the movement. Is that lack of balance a problem? I don't think so. Show me a time when I might have to do something remotely similar to a single legged squat in an athletic event. At the same time, sheer squatting strength is directly useful in any number of sports.

Show me a guy who can squat with 1x BW or more on their back for reps, and I'll show you a guy who can wreck someone spending a lot of time doing single legged squats in any event other than distance running or long distance bicycle racing. Of course, if endurance events are all you care about, by all means enjoy your nice, easy training style.

If the goal is strength or hypertrophy, body weight exercises are largely a waste of time. Yes, even more than machines. There, I said it.

BREWMASTERBILL SparkPoints: (31,088)
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
Posts: 4,114
6/26/13 2:49 P

Sounds perfect. He loaded the barbell up, did good form, exhausted himself to the point where he couldn't do single leg squats. I can barely walk up the stairs after some heavy squats. So I missed the funny part.

WADINGMOOSE Posts: 1,048
6/26/13 2:47 P

I'm assuming that's a balance issue over a strength issue?

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
6/26/13 2:38 P


I was mistaken, I meant squat rather than leg press. Saw the same guy at the gym today do decent form squats with 200-250lbs and then fail completely at a single leg squats. Was kind of funny actually.

SIMONEKP Posts: 2,764
6/26/13 1:23 P

Time to up the weights

6/26/13 12:25 P

When discussing resistance training some mention of the goal is required to obtain the most accurate answer. If the goal is general fitness in terms of increasing muscle density and strength then the standard is based on the three sets of no more than 8 to 10 repetitions using 60% to 70% of your single repetition maximum (SRM also known as 1RM). If the goal is to increase muscle endurance then the repetitions go up into the 15 to 25 repetition range. If the goal is brute strength then the repetitions drop to 1 to 3 per set and workouts can consist of only the brute strength exercise you want to increase i.e. deadlift, squat, bench press, snatch or clean and jerk.

Unless the individual has clinical problems such as arthritis or post traumatic weakness joint issues can be resolved by strength training since the ligaments and tendons of the joint are strengthened through resistance training. I will not assign any value or credibility to the use of barbie weights since in daily life greater weights are routinely lifted and carried.

Decide what your goal is then determine your programme as to the number of sets and repetitions you want to do.

Edited by: SERGEANTMAJOR at: 6/26/2013 (13:26)
EMPRESSAMQ Posts: 5,077
6/26/13 8:53 A

Responding only to original post. For me, it works well. I have joint issues that preclude upping weights but get benefit from lifting medium to light weights and I do way more than three sets of 8-15 reps.

BREWMASTERBILL SparkPoints: (31,088)
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
Posts: 4,114
6/26/13 7:18 A

Uhhh a 200 pound leg press is pathetic. Someone pressing 200 pounds has not yet fully progressed past that of bodyweight exercises. So ya, I would expect someone to be able to single leg squat vs. someone who can leg press 200 for the single leg squatter to be stronger. So let's come up with a reasonable comparison.

@ML - sure, I can agree with your point. I forget about those pesky machines and isolation moves. When I talk about loaded training, compound, barbell movements are implied, but that's probably a pretty terrible assumption especially here.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,460
6/25/13 9:47 P


Those are all great suggestion, although I disagree a bit with the ordering.

Certainly something that is 'easily loaded' makes it much easier to calibrate your effort - eg. by adding just 2.5 or 5 lbs more per time. But equipment like weight machines run in a defined track, and can often be considered isolation exercises, working just one muscle at a time. Bodyweight exercises are often compound exercises that work several different muscles at once, and play a much bigger role in developing 'functional fitness'. Of course, free weights like dumbbells can be used for compound exercises.

Some advanced bodyweight exercises can be a big jump eg. single leg squats work the thigh muscles twice as hard as the conventional variety. But single leg bridge-ups work the muscles only 33% harder (by a very rough calculation). But single leg squats will work a much broader range of muscles - eg. the lower leg is working harder to keep you balanced, and the core is braced much harder to transfer the weight of your torso to the single off-center point of support. These are not benefits you would get from say, doubling the weight on a leg press machine.


MOMMYOF2RN Posts: 579
6/25/13 9:13 P

Its definitely ok. My trainer has me do anywhere between 3-5 sets of 10-25 each depending on the move.

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,460
6/25/13 9:04 P


Probably the easiest way to make bodyweight exercises more challenging is to ensure that you do them in a slow and controlled manner - typically 3 seconds for the 'up' movement, and 3 seconds for the 'down' movement. And hold the 'up' position for 3-5 seconds.

Using resistance bands can help with things like hip flexors. Squats with dumbbells, or with a medicine ball kinda fall in the same category.

Using a less stable surface/position can also make things more challenging. This could be as simple as going barefoot when exercising (barefoot calf raises are significantly more challenging than doing them with shoes), using a balance board, or doing a single leg bridge-up.

Finally, there are more challenging variations of bodyweight exercises (eg. decline pushups, single leg squats, etc).


FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
6/25/13 5:38 P

Thanks LEC358. I have started doing my strength training at home and going with dumbbells and bodyweight. The bodyweight exercises that I'm doing now are definitely challenging enough for now (single leg bridge-ups, standing abduction, lateral lunges, forward lunges, etc.). Adding in a medicine ball and it's like starting all over again. I did some of the same exercises with the cable machine (whatever it's called) and think that bodyweight is more difficult. Of course, I'd give up strength training completely if I didn't want to maintain my lean body mass. Thanks for the suggestion on the author. I'll look into it.

LEC358 SparkPoints: (11,135)
Fitness Minutes: (6,555)
Posts: 2,744
6/25/13 4:38 P

I'm going to disagree that bodyweight exercises lack room for progression. You only need to check out the books by Mark Lauren to see that bodyweight exercises can be much more challenging than machines. For example, I see guys leg press 200+ pounds but can't do a single leg squat.

BREWMASTERBILL SparkPoints: (31,088)
Fitness Minutes: (12,713)
Posts: 4,114
6/25/13 2:06 P

You have three choices.

1) Do something that isn't body weight and is easily loaded (recommended!)
2) Add weight to your body in the form of a weighted vest or a dip belt (for example)
3) Do something else that provides a challenge. Ex: if you're doing wall squats, do single leg squats. (least favorable)

ARCHIMEDESII SparkPoints: (201,343)
Fitness Minutes: (301,253)
Posts: 27,435
6/25/13 2:04 P

There is a strength training technique called drop sets. It's also been called down sets. What you do is fatigue your muscles with one set of reps at your absolute max. Then you quickly grab a slightly lighter weight and do the second round. take chest flies. You might do one set with 25 pound weights and then drop to 20s for the second set.

Also, the weight shouldn't be so heavy that you're form is off. As ML noted, quality matters more than quantity. if the weight is so heavy, you're using poor form, then you do need to drop your weight.

A woman should never be afraid to lift heavy. they are a lot stronger than they give themselves credit. Before you engage in your next strength training session, try some different weights for diffferent exercises. Take a chest press. See how heavy you can go using either a barbell or handweights with good form. Just do a couple reps to see how your muscles feel. If it feels easy, use a heavier weight. It it feels hard, drop down a level.

Most people when they start strength training don't realize that some muscles are stronger than others. So, you may find that you can bench press more than you can shoulder press.

Take me, I'm a gorilla. I can bench press two 45 pound hand weights. But, I certainly can't do a shoulder press with those same weights ! Shoulder press, I'm down to 25-30 pounds. that's another reason people need to experiment with the weight they use. They'll need a variety for the various exercises they do.

Edited by: ARCHIMEDESII at: 6/25/2013 (14:05)
FIELDWORKING SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (64,745)
Posts: 748
6/25/13 1:49 P

What do you do when it is a body weight? For example, if you are doing something like hip flexor, bridges, and bridge-ups and can do 3 sets of 8 to 15 reps, where do you go from there? Or other body weight exercises?

I realize that some body weight exercises can be made more difficult, like push-ups, but I'm just curious. I'm not quite there yet, but looking to the future.

6/24/13 9:18 P

It's just that I have all this time now and at the end of the session, I look at the machines I enjoy most and think why not again? Surely I can do another set with lighter weights...
I did up the weights today though and it made more sense, I got tired faster.

6/24/13 9:15 P

an Emeril? hahhaha

MOTIVATED@LAST Posts: 15,460
6/24/13 8:18 P

Strength training is all about the quality, not the quantity. When it comes to strength training, more is not better, harder is better. You will get more benefit from a weight where you can only do 4-8 reps before fatiguing your muscles, than a weight where you can do 8-15.

If you can do 8-15 reps of an exercise, surely you can do at least 4 with a slightly heavier weight?

You get about 70% of the maximum possible advantage with the first set, 90% with the second and 95% with the third. Adding a 4th, 5th and 6th set (especially with lighter weights) adds virtually no benefit at all. If you have extra time for your workout, then you are much better off doing 3 sets of another exercise that works different muscles.


6/24/13 5:21 P

If you can do more than 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions it is time to do an Emeril and "kick it up a notch" by adding more weight

Edited by: SERGEANTMAJOR at: 6/24/2013 (21:18)
SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 66,002
6/24/13 2:54 P

I agree with the previous posters. You're better off increasing the weight instead of adding more reps/sets, and hopefully then you won't feel like you have lots of energy left over at the end to do more.

Coach Jen

HEALTHY-SPARK SparkPoints: (43,082)
Fitness Minutes: (49,983)
Posts: 1,073
6/24/13 2:21 P

Personally, when I reach the point of being able to do 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps -- that is when I up my weights to the next notch. (I usually aim for 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps, depending on whether I am just starting at a new weight, or getting ready to move onto a heavier weight). I suspect that you can lift more than you are doing, but perhaps not as many sets or reps. I aim to reach muscle fatigue after 2-3 sets of however many reps. I don't have hours to spend at the gym, and this technique has worked very well for me in the past.

Despite some concerns regarding "bulking up", it is really difficult for women to bulk up, so it is not necessary to do more reps at a lower weight for "toning". You get more our of your strength training by increasing your resistance.

ZORBS13 SparkPoints: (202,187)
Fitness Minutes: (197,740)
Posts: 15,875
6/24/13 2:16 P

If you can do that many sets/reps, you need to up the weight and that will be much more beneficial.

6/24/13 2:13 P

Why is it that people work out 3 sets of 8-15 reps? Is it ok to do more sets at the end of a workout session if you still have time and a little energy left? I cannot lift more than I do, but I can go for another 3 sets of a lighter weight load. Is this a good or bad idea?

Page: 1 of (1)  

Other Fitness and Exercise Topics:

Last Post:
12/28/2016 7:54:58 PM
1/2/2017 6:08:04 PM
6/1/2017 3:50:16 PM
1/2/2017 2:02:37 PM