How do we maximize our time spent in the gym?
Compound free weight exercises are what I choose 9 out of 10 times. The reason for this is several-fold.
a) Free weights build strength in assistance or stabilizer muscles.
b) Free weights eliminate injuries that normally occur from repeated motion along one plane of resistance, such as that with machines or even cables.
c) Free weights burn more calories by stimulating a chain of muscles rather than a single isolated muscle.
d) Free weights = calluses. =)
We also want to reduce or eliminate muscular imbalances, so it is a good idea to use uni-lateral exercises (dumbbell or single leg presses) once in a while in order to determine if one side is stronger.
In order to make the most of our time in the gym, we want to get as much done as possible in the time that we have. Therefore we will be using the concept of Giant Sets nearly everyday. This means we will be pairing each larger exercise with a mechanically unrelated smaller exercise (think of pairing bench presses with calf raises, or deadlifts with cable flies).
Sets and Reps
High reps (25+) will give you endurance.
High-Medium reps (15-25) will give you some mass and some endurance.
Medium reps (10-15) will give you mass, although this is the ideal range for most women and will function more to tighten and tone than to build much mass.
A Project Swole service reminder:
WOMEN DO NOT GET BIG BY ACCIDENT
Low-Medium reps (6-10) will give you some mass and some strength.
Low reps (1-5) will give you strength.
I tend to promote 1-2 warm up sets and 2 work sets on small to medium exercises. I will recommend 2-3 warm up sets and 2-3 work sets on the biggest, hardest exercises.
Clearly we do not need to psych up for warm up sets, but for each subsequent work set, we intend to lift more weight or more reps. The initial goal will be to lift a certain weight a certain number of times before moving up in weight the next workout. Sometimes it helps to take a couple breaths and picture yourself completing the set successfully for the prescribed number of reps, before hoisting the first rep. Then it becomes all about breathing and the mind-muscle connection. There is also almost never a reason to drop any weight from 2-3 feet in the air all the way to the floor. If you do this you are as big of a dickhead as the guy that curls in the squat rack or power rack… or on the deadlifting platform.