The decision to start a weight training program is based on an end
goal. So training without purpose is like looking for buried treasure without a
map--your likelihood of success is slim. Since each person has a unique goal
and since adaptation is specific to the stress, there are several methods of
constructing a workout program. Each training method has different set, rep,
and resistance variations. If you follow the overload principle, you must make
sure that the resistance becomes difficult by the last one or two reps of each
set. No matter how many reps are required, the resistance should be challenging
once you are familiar with the exercise. If you use weights that are too light,
it will take longer to see results. If you use weights that are too heavy, you
risk burnout, overtraining, and injury.

Training for Muscular

To gain muscular endurance, you have two choices. You can either extend the
set by completing more repetitions or rest for a shorter amount of time between
sets. Generally, a set of 12 to 20 reps should last at least 30 seconds but not
more than 90 seconds. A prolonged set will encourage lactic acid buildup. This
causes that familiar burning sensation and ultimately leads to fatigue.
Although lactic acid buildup tends to get a bad rap, if you learn to push
through the burn and tolerate the pain, your body will become more accustomed
to handling it and further build your muscle's endurance capacity. So the next
time you feel the burn, go for a few more reps.

Aim for one to three sets of 15
to 25 repetitions, resting for 30 to 60 seconds between sets. Another
alternative is to perform three to five sets of 10 to 15 reps, resting for 15
to 30 seconds between sets.

Training for Muscular

If strength is your goal, you need to use relatively heavy
resistance to perform fewer repetitions per set, and you'll need to rest for
two to three minutes between sets. The goal of this type of training is to
increase the overall strength of a muscle or group of muscles. Strength training
usually includes exercises that work the major muscle groups, such as the bench
press, seated row, and squat. The catalyst for strength gain, however, is not
the number of reps but how hard you work in the lower rep range. If you can
easily get 6 to 8 reps and choose to stop, you will not build strength
effectively. Neither will you help your strength efforts if the weight is too
light and you do more reps. Your last few reps should stop you dead in your
tracks and either require a spot to get another rep or force you to stop

For best results, perform one to
three sets of 6 to 8 repetitions, resting for two and a half to three minutes
between sets.

Training for Muscular Size

Most people who work out want to improve their overall appearance.
For men, increasing muscle size is usually the number one goal. Women usually
want to become leaner or more toned. Whatever your goal, the results you want
take time, and in all cases, size and muscle density are necessary if you wish
to have a figure with muscle definition.

Hypertrophy is the technical term for building size, increasing
mass, or bodybuilding. Despite popular myth, using very heavy weight as in
strength training does not promote size increases as rapidly. Hypertrophy
training falls somewhere between strength and endurance training. Training for
hypertrophy involves a moderate number of reps with moderate to heavy weight
and average rest periods. For those of you afraid to build size rapidly,
especially women, don't worry-a few weeks or even months of hypertrophy
training will increase muscle size, but getting tree trunk legs and
boulder-sized biceps takes many years. Instead, if you are working out to see
some definition, to get a few "cuts" in your arms, or to look good at
the beach, this is the strategy for you.

The optimal way to increase size
is to perform one to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions (usually 10 to 12),
resting for 90 seconds between sets.

Training for Power

Power training is explosive in nature and requires very quick movements using
as much weight as possible while still lifting explosively. The advantage of
explosive training for sport, although still under investigation, appears to be
substantial in athletes playing sports where explosive contact is a regular
part of the game. Contact sports such as football have seen some of the best
improvements. However, because of the inherent risk, the average person who is
looking to get in shape, tone up, and look good probably need not spend time
doing explosive lifting. Only skilled lifters and sport-specific athletes
should engage in power training.

If you are considering performing explosive movements, use your own body
weight, and make sure someone keeps an eye on your form. For true power
development, use light to moderate weight for three to five sets of 3 to 5
reps, lifted as explosively as possible

Excerpt from Fundamental
Weight Training
(Human Kinetics, 2010). For more information
on Fundamental Weight
or other books, visit or
call 800.747.4457.