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Get More From Your Workout

December 22, 2010

By Gerard Bochese

Having a large variety of exercises in your training arsenal is important, but manipulating your training variables (sets, reps, tempo, rest periods) is the key to success in your training routine.

Here is an example:

Client A is following a year-long training program in which the only horizontal push exercise used is the flat bench press.  However, every four weeks he changes the variables of sets, reps, tempo and rest period with the loads being selected accordingly. For example, the first four weeks, Client A is doing two sets of bench press for 15 reps at a 2-0-1 tempo (2 seconds to lower the weight, no pause at the bottom, 1 second to raise the weight) with 90 seconds of rest in between sets, with a 75% load of their one-rep max (the most weight they can lift one time). The next four weeks Client A does four sets of eight reps with 120 seconds rest at a 4-1-2 tempo with 85% of their one-rep max. These variable changes will occur every four weeks.

Client B follows a one-year program in which the horizontal push exercises (incline barbell, dumbbell press, cable presses, push ups, etc.) change every four weeks. However, the variables will remain the same throughout the year, following a program of three sets of 10 reps at a 2-0-1 tempo with a challenging load and a 90 second rest period between sets.

At the end of one year, Client A, who manipulated sets, reps, tempo, and rest period with the same exercise will have superior results across the board compared to Client B, who followed the same variables for multiple exercises.

Why? Because the body adapts to the rep range the fastest, adapts to the sets, tempos, and rest periods more efficiently, and actually adapts to the exercise selection the slowest. So, in order to bring about the fastest progress possible, a manipulation of the rep range and the associated variables are more important then selecting new exercises.


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