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15 Feb 2006

Hi Doc
I would like to know which of the reps. or sets should you increase first during the conditioning phase of training. How fast should you increase these variables. I heard that you should decrease your intensity every six weeks to prevent platuaing of strength gains.

And if exercise guidlines say you should do 3 sets of an exercise does this include the warm-up set or not.

Answer 383 views

01 Jan 0001

hi Nick

Let me begin with the last question - the warmup is something you do separately from the actual sets, so no, it is not included in the 3 sets. The ideal warmup would consist of some cardio to get the blood flowing, and to increase the muscle temperature, then some reps using a much lighter weight, before you move onto the next set.

Now, with regards to how to increase the load, it depends on where in the 'season' or training cycle you are. For example, as you begin, the first change would be to increase the weight until a level of strength is reached and leave the number of sets constant - there is not all that much to be gained from increasing the number of sets later on in a training plan, because as the training plan moves forward, the focus usually changes from developing basic strength to increasing power, and that means increasing the size of the weights and even reducing the number of sets. There is this constant interplay between the size of the weights, the number of reps and the sets, it's a 3 way interaction, not just two, so keep that in mind as well. So, if the goal is to develop strength, then lifting relatively heavy, 3 sets is good and over time, you increase the weight, keeping the reps and sets similar. To add power, you decrease the reps but increase the size of the weights, so that the intensity is much higher, though at a lower load. Once the major cycle of training is finished, you work back to the initial point where you are lifting more reps and more sets, and this is where perhaps you can increase the number of reps and sets, compared to what you were doing previously. But within a given training period, the changes usually come from the size of the weights, with reductions in reps and sets.

Finally, I do think that every once in a while, you need a week of 'recovery' training - it need not be every 6 weeks, though this is a guideline, but you should probably reduce the loading and volume just to allow the body a period of adaptation and recovery before continuing.

Good luck
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