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In the first installment of Resistance Training for Beginners, I commented on the benefits of resistance training, gym etiquette, and some preventable common mistakes.  In Part 2, I wish to explain the terminology associated with resistance training programs so that you do not seem baffled when you first read the descriptions.

Reps? Sets? What?

Let’s start with the basics, and the best way to describe this is by using a sample exercise from a resistance training program:

Exercise

Tempo

Rest

Reps

Sets

Deadlift

2:0:4:0

90 sec

15

4

 

Reps (Repetitions): The number of movement executions you do during a set.  As per the exercise protocol above, it instructs you to perform 15 deadlifts during 1 set.

Sets: The number of times you perform the amount of stated repetitions.  The program above states that you should perform 4 sets of 15 deadlifts.

Rest: Is defined as the amount of rest you are to take in between your sets.

Tempo: The rate at which you do each segment of the exercise.  Not every program will express the tempo.  However, when present, this usually indicates that the execution of the exercise is for a specific demand (power, strength, etc).  The usual tempo is displayed as #:#:#:# which can be defined as concentric : pause : eccentric : pause.

Concentric: The portion of the movement where your muscles are shortening.  For example, during a bicep curl, the initial movement of bring the bar upwards would be the concentric portion of the motion.

Eccentric: The portion of the movement where the primary muscles are lengthening. To reiterate the concept of a bicep curl, it is the portion of movement where one is lowering the weight and their arms are in full extension.

Types of Resistance Training Exercise Protocols

The lingo for exercise programs regarding resistance training does not end here.  You are now about to read a simple program and decipher what the above exercise program is asking for, however there is more!  Next, I am going to define 4 common exercise training methods that you may come across in some exercise programs so you know how to execute them properly.

Circuit: A circuit is when you perform all exercises sequentially and then return back to the original exercise.  For example, a circuit may consist of a squat, lat pulldown, bench press, deadlift, front plank.  The protocol is to conduct the exercises in that order.  The rest between exercises is normally shorter as you are not working the same muscle groups consecutively. Moreover, these protocols are a little more intense due to the limited rest allotted.

Supersets: Supersets are protocols where you perform two exercises continuously with no rest in between.  These exercises can target the same (another name for these is compound sets) or different muscle groups.  They are effective in breaking plateaus, maintaining high intensity, and changing up your normal one exercise per set routine. There are more subcategories to supersets therefore this is just a brief overview.

Drop sets: Normally done during the last set of an exercise, it is when one completes the exercises at a certain weight until failure, and then drops the weight and continues.  These sets give that extra burn where you feel as if your muscles are on fire. It is not recommended to do these for every exercise, especially if you are working the same muscle group later on that workout, therefore these are normally placed with the final sets of sessions.

Ladder Sets: This is when every following set has either an increase in resistance (weight) or an increase in repetitions, ultimately resulting in an increase in intensity.  Some examples of ladders are:  5 reps, 7 reps, 9 reps, 12 reps, 9 reps, 7 reps, 5 reps – OR – 25lbs, 30lbs, 35lbs, 40lbs.  Not all ladders descend either, so refer to the program to make sure you are performing the exercises as prescribed!

Types of Exercises

There are two major categories of exercises that can be done during resistance training.  These two are isolated or compound movements.

Isolation Exercise: These exercises target one specific muscle group.  Isolation exercises include leg extensions, leg curls, preacher curls, etc.

Compound Exercise: These exercises target two or more muscle groups.  Compound exercises include squats, deadlifts, etc.

Conclusion

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