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boolz 06-03-2011 10:04 PM

Seeking strength training advice
Question: when using weight machines, is it better to set the weights so it takes all you've got to get through your sets with safe form, or set them a bit lower so you can zip through pretty quickly with only a medium burn at the end?

Basic routine: circuit of machines at the Y, 3 sets, 10 reps/set
Goals: weight loss, strength, tone, improved cycling
Cardio: stationary and road bike

Note: at the heavier level, I experience muscle soreness and so only go every other day. At the lighter level, I can do it every day. I've not done it enough to tell a difference on meeting my goals, that's why I'm gathering opinions

zaldabus 06-06-2011 07:59 AM

The general rule is, if you're not struggling with the last few reps, you're not forcing enough effort on your muscles for them to change. So yes, maintain proper, controlled form, but aim towards having to challenge yourself to finish those last reps. The tricky part comes from deciding how many sets and reps to complete for your exercise. Different rep/set combinations can be found as suggestions to achieve different goals, and even towards the same goals you'll find people suggesting different things. However, the most generally excepted default is a program which aims for sets performing 8-10 reps.

Also, you should not be exercising the same muscle groups day after day. Everytime you exercise a muscle, you are in fact breaking it down. It is only during rest that the muscle can rebuild itself, and if you trained correctly and eat correctly, grow stronger than before. You should be able to progressively lift more every time you do a weight exercise. If that's not the case, you over/underworked the muscle, and/or didn't give yourself enough time for recovery.

It is generally suggested to rest at least 48 hour before working the same muscle group again. The best way to do this is to exercise one muscle group on one weight training day, then another group on the next day, and so on usually performing a cycle. Most people split up weight training into three days a week working on three different muscle groups each day, which will give your muscle groups plenty of time to recover before the next exercise. If you want to spend less time doing muscle training, you could set it up for two days a week spending one day doing upper body and one day doing lower body.

boolz 06-14-2011 08:05 PM


I want to say thanks for this reply. For the last week and a half, I switched to doing weights every other day, 8 reps per set and going for the highest weight I could manage. Whereas before, I didn't feel much progress, this way, I find I can lift more each time I go in. And though I'm really working to get the last rep done, in some way, it feels easier than before, like more stable or predictable or something. This feels like the right track.

RunbikeSki 06-15-2011 12:41 AM

Hi boolz,
What your doing with the heavy reps is what every trainer I have ever worked with has told me. Go heavy, 5 to 10 reps, till you can't go anymore. As zaldabus noted it is the "damage" that results in the rebuilding bigger, better, and stronger! :D

chinanski 06-15-2011 01:23 AM

strength training
The best advice I can offer you is: stop using the machines as soon as you develop a base level of strength. Focus on full body, free weight exercises, e.g. squat, deadlift, bench, push press, etc. It's worth it to hire a trainer if you cannot do the exercises properly. Your gains will increase as will your appearance. Utilize the machines for assistance work after you have used free weights or not at all.

wolfbane20 07-17-2011 09:22 PM

Allow me to direct you to a website called you can find all the answers you need. Yes it is free.

Kumochi 07-18-2011 12:01 AM

I went to a Y trainer for strength and flexibility last month. His program and advise was as above although he has me doing 2 sets of 12 reps and increas the weights if I can do the 2 full sets. I am using 6 of the machines plus doing squats, modified push ups --( he plans on having me on the floor soon, I said I didn't do push ups -)Roll outs with the exercise ball and rowing with weights and some lifts with dumbells. My favourite is the assisted chinups cause it looks so cool. I warm up for 5 minutes first, rowing or elliptical, and do a bit of cardio after. He warned that too much warm up can lead to stretching the muscles too much when lifting.

I'm a bit of a wimp and likely should be increasing the weights faster than I am. I don't do pain well. I asked him today doing my upper body and lower body workout on the same day, he's not for that unless absolutely necessary. I had a hard time making it to the Y last week so have done both the last 2 times. I guess I'll be good and go back to one or the other.

It's amazing how fast you progress, even at my age! Mary

ultimark 08-05-2011 07:07 PM


Originally Posted by wolfbane20 (Post 51135)
Allow me to direct you to a website called you can find all the answers you need. Yes it is free.

This. Also, please stop using machines. You'll hurt yourself eventually. Machines work out the big muscles, but do nothing for the little muscles that keep your joints happy when you try to use those motions in the real world.

When was the last time you saw someone with your goal body using a machine?

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