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Home > Our Health Experts > Herb Cables > Weight Training 101

Weight Training 101

Weight training can help you tone, lift, firm and shape your body. It’s also been proven to have a positive impact on insulin resistance, resting metabolism, blood pressure and body fat. Together with aerobic exercise, weight training can help you transform your body, inside and out.

More and more people are turning to weight training to improve the way they look and feel. Physical training can be a very rewarding thing because it can drastically change the way you look, the way people perceive you and how you feel about yourself, both mentally and physically.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who want to start weight training have no clue where to begin. They don’t even know the terminology, let alone the methods. Below I’ve provided a glossary of the most important terms you’ll need as you begin weight training.

1. Repetition (rep/reps): A repetition or rep is the action of performing the complete motion of an exercise once. Using the bench press as an example, one complete motion means bringing the bar all the way down to your chest from an extended arms position, then lifting it back up to the starting position.

Each repetition normally has two distinct phases: the phase where you’re actively lifting the weight, in which the muscles involved are contracting or shortening. This is called the concentric phase. The second phase is when you’re resisting the weight, bringing it to the starting position of the concentric phase. This is when the muscles involved are lengthening, and it’s called the eccentric phase. It helps to remember that concentric phase = muscles contracting and eccentric phase = muscles lengthening.

2. Set: A set is when you perform a series of repetitions without any significant rest between them. For example, when you perform a set of ten reps on the bench press, it means that you lower and lift the bar ten times in a row. Once all the reps in a set have been completed, you put the bar back on the rack.

Numbers of sets and reps are usually written together, with the sets listed first and then reps. For example, 3x10 means that you would perform three sets of ten reps, resting between sets.

3. Rep range: You won’t always see a precise number of reps listed in a workout program. In fact, you’ll usually see a rep range. This is a bracket of reps, usually between two to four, in which the training effect is almost the same. A rep range allows for more leeway; let’s say that your workout calls for ten reps, but you’re only able to do seven. Do you trash the set, or do you count it? What if after ten you feel that you can still squeeze out another one or two reps? Do you stop at ten, or do you continue?

Rather than agonize over this, I prefer to use a rep range rather than a specific rep number. Which rep range to use depends on what kind of gains in muscle you’re looking for:

• 2-3: Strength with little size gain;
• 4-5: Strength and size gains, but more strength than size;
• 6-8: Strength and size gains, almost equally;
• 9-12: Strength and size gains, but more size than strength;
• 13-15: Size gains and some muscle endurance gains; and
• 16-20: Muscle endurance gains and some size gains.

4. Rest Intervals: This one is fairly straightforward; it refers to the amount of time you rest between sets of an exercise or between exercises.

Next month, we’ll dive into the tempo of a repetition and different training variables to enhance your training experience.

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