question about weight training

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by heycal, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Here's something that confuses about weight training: If one wants to make gains in muscle size, one must gradually increase the weight they are lifting, right? Yet at the same time, I hear that one must change their workout routines every 6-12 weeks in order to see good gains or whatever.

    So how can I significantly progress in the amount of weight I'm lifting in a particular exercise if I'm supposed to switch to a new exercise after a while?

    This concept of switching routines/bugs me: I want to keep keep track of my progress on a given exercise and increase the weight I'm using -- not have to abandon it after 8 weeks to start a brand new exercise. And then have to abandon THAT exercise after 8 weeks in favor of something else...

    Why can't I pick a machine/exercise, start at 10lbs or whatever, and see if I can get up to 100 lbs in six months? Why must I stop and switch to something new and start all over again every few weeks?
     
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  2. Gmedlo

    Gmedlo Professional

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    I've never heard that you should switch after 6-12 weeks. If the program you're on is still giving you good results, why would you switch? I would be stupid to stop doing squats and deadlifts after 8 weeks because someone on the internet told me my body has already adapted to them.

    Right now I'm doing Rippetoe's, and I have a feeling I'll still be seeing the gains I want all the way through high school (I'm a junior), so there's no way I'm switching until I stop seeing gains.
     
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  3. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    The advice to switch exercises around is widespread and has been for years, so I'm surprised you've never heard it before.
     
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  4. Gmedlo

    Gmedlo Professional

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    6-12 weeks seems very extreme. I don't think there would be a point to doing that unless you're an experienced weightlifter (say 10+ years) that has plateaued. No one else really needs that kind of shock to stimulate gains.

    If switching like that was the standard, compound lifts would not exist.
     
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  5. D. Dokas

    D. Dokas Rookie

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    for chest do bench press for 3 months
    then the next 3 do dumbel press

    you dont want your body to get into a rithym (how ever u spell it)

    if u run 5 minutes a day, after 3 months does the 5 minutes bother u that much, it shouldnt so u mix it up by skipping for 5 minutes, or sprint for 5 minutes.
    keeping your body to be alert and not expect things.

    well thats the theory
     
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  6. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    As you can see below, I'm not inventing this notion:


     
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  7. auzzieizm

    auzzieizm Semi-Pro

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    You should always vary your exercise routines, but you don't necessarily have to wait 6-12 weeks to do so. I keep a rotation of 5 different weight training routines- all working different muscle groups with the goal of getting a total body workout during each session. I just do a different routine each time I go lifting.
     
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  8. heycal

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    But I don't want to vary my routines unless I really have to, so it not about not wanting to wait six weeks to do so.
     
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  9. Gmedlo

    Gmedlo Professional

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    waaaiiittt a minute. Are you saying that you do the exact same routine every time you lift?
     
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  10. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    More or less, yes. I try and go up in weight when I can, but I'm doing the same exercises every time, in whatever order the machines/weights happen to be available. (I'm not going to wait around ten minutes doing nothing just so I can make sure I do curls after tricep extensions or begin my workout with squats or whatever.)
     
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  11. Gmedlo

    Gmedlo Professional

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    Okay, nooooooow I get what you're saying (or said what others were saying). If you're doing the exact same routine every time you go into the gym you will have to vary it quite often. That's why most routines follow a week 1: ABA week 2: BAB scheme, or work different muscle groups each day– that's how you avoid having to switch your routine every few months. But you will still have to switch when you plateau.
     
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  12. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    But why must I do this? Why can't I just keeping do the same exercise and gradually adding more weight when I can? Maybe if I reach a plateau it's time to switch, but until that time, why must I vary things?
     
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  13. Gmedlo

    Gmedlo Professional

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    If you can, do. Don't try to fix it if it ain't broke.
     
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  14. auzzieizm

    auzzieizm Semi-Pro

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    Increasing weight is a natural form of variation. Adding weight makes an exercise load different on your body.

    As far as varying exercise, it is a matter of increasing the effectiveness of a workout. For example, bench pressing is a great way to strengthen your pectoralis muscles as well as other accessory muscle groups like triceps, etc. Those muscle groups are large, so doing the bench press lying flat on a bench focuses on a specific part of that muscle. To promote more uniform muscle growth, it is good to vary doing a press on a flat bench, an incline bench, and a decline bench, etc. You will increase strength and mass more effectively. You will be building musculature more evenly- which will also aid in tendon and ligament strengthening. And as far as motivation, varying a workout helps to prevent monotony- which could lead to a burnout.

    And to answer your question. You can just do the same workout. You can do the same workout and try to increase weights every so often. It is not bad. However, it is definitely not the most effective way to workout and strengthen. I always found that the biggest factor with exercisers trying new things is unfamiliarity. If you are not comfortable trying a new exercise or using a different piece of equipment, then you will likely just stick to what you are comfortable with. This basically limits your workout possibilities and workout gains. Don't be afraid to try new things, and don't necessarily worry about changing your whole program all the time. Just do something different each time, or try something new. Rotate through different exercises to target different parts of each muscle group you are trying to work. It will help you in the long run to achieve better results.
     
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  15. heycal

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    It's not that I'm afraid to try new exercises or ever do something different, and it's not an issue of being unfamiliar with other machines/exercses, it's that:

    1) I don't like the idea of having to do so to a degree where it's a drag. I don't want to have to constantly think of new things regarding my workout: "I did this exercise last time, so I have to do that one this time" or "On Tuesday I started with legs, so today I'd better start with arms", etc. I just want to get a routine down and follow it without having to think too much.

    2) Nor do I want to constantly 'start over'. I'd like to start at one weight on a machine and try and gradually increase that weight and chart my progress over time. I don't want to switch so often that I can't even remember how much weight I can lift on that machine or bother keeping track of it since I'm just going to switch to something else in a week anyway.

    I'm happy to make little changes and little variations every few months or so, I just don't want that aspect to become burdensome: "Oops. 8 weeks have passed! Time to abandon this machine I was making progress on and switch to some new contraption and start from scratch on that one."

    I want get a routine down, memorize it, and do it a few times a week for several months. Is that so wrong?
     
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  16. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    I think you're just lazy, heycal. You want to get the quickest results in the shortest amount of time, with minimal effort. Don't we all...But that's not the way it works, unless, of course, you go the steroid route.

    Just do the workout you have, put some effort into it and stop whinning about it. And then, come back in 12 weeks and let us know how you're coming along with your two-set per body part routine.;-)
     
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  17. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Do you have some objection to the 2 sets per exercise routine? I've seen studies that suggest 1 set is all that's needed, so am I doing too much?
     
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  18. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    There are a lot of studies out there. Hell, maybe there's one that found that sitting in a gym and just LOOKING at weights will cause significant muscle growth. Mike Mentzer said that working out 15 or 20 minutes per WEEK would result in amazing growth. He died young, so go figure.

    Honestly, I want to see what two sets (or one, if you want) per body part can do. If you put enough effort into it, it should produce some results. I will anxiously await your 12-week progress report.
     
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  19. SlapShot

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    IMO, there's nothing wrong with having a routine, but tossing in new/different exercises is a key way to build true functional strength. Personally, I alternate exercises in an effort to build strength in both. For example, one day I'll barball bench. The next, I'll dumbell bench. Same with legs - I'll alternate freeweight squats and leg press.

    You are going to see gains on multiple exercises if you're truly getting stronger.

    Also - I believe that it is strongly encouraged to mix freeweights and machines when weight training - freeweights stress the supportive muscles as well as the ones focused, and machines isolate and encourage growth.
     
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  20. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    ^^^
    This is the kind of stuff I want to avoid. It just doesn't appeal to me on any level. I guess I'm a creature of habit. If it's shown to me conclusively that this is by far the best way to make gains, then I'll consider it, but until then I'd rather avoid it for now.

    I can already tell I'm seeing some progress after 6 weeks, so you don't need to wait any longer.

    Some people recommend 1 set, some 2 sets, some 3 or more. I personally do not have a strong opinion on this matter. But from what I've read, the trend seems to be moving towards less not more, ala this Mentzer guy you mentioned.

    You are in the camp that recommends multiple sets, I take it?
     
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  21. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    Oh, goodie!

    Not a ridiculous amount. Three to four at most. One or two doesn't work for me.
     
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  22. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Cal, the truth is that you're not going to gain a lot of muscle in a short amount of time anyway so don't stress. You can try a few new things, but trying new things doesn't have to be the staple of your workouts. Try adding weight because something as simple as a heavier weight stimulates muscle growth. Changing your routine every now and then is ok, but don't expect to be Jay Cutler size just because you do a different workout every single time. I've seen it all and I have to hold back laughter when I see some fat guy in the gym talking about how he changes his routine and gets quality muscle out of it. I'm not massive nor have I ever claimed to be because I work out for strength. Noone's ever going to accuse me of training for size, but I'm still stronger than most gym rats. My point is that unless you invest in some serious drugs, you won't get huge no matter what kind of different routines you do so just keep on doing what you're doing and don't worry.
     
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  23. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    So let me get this straight: 3 sets is perfect, but 2 sets is worthy of derision?
     
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  24. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    One set of 15 reps is for beginners and 2 sets is for beginner to intermediates. I don't recommend anything over 3 sets anwyay, but you can do 3 sets if you're an advanced weightlifter. Anything more than 3 sets trains muscles for endurance and not hypertrophy so I wouldn't bother, but many people insist on doing multiple sets because they just don't feel the "pump" at that moment. This is a mistake. It's like the guy who wants to get drunk, but doesn't feel the buzz just yet or the girl at the beach who gets sunburned because she doesn't feel the "tan" after 30 minutes. Don't get me wrong, your body can adapt to doing more than 3 sets, but that just means you'll be doing extra sets for nothing in the future unless of course your goal actually is endurance.
     
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  25. heycal

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    Thanks, Rickson. I'm just a normal guy about to turn 46 years old who likes junk food and playing some tennis and looking reasonably in shape for vanity purposes. If anyone got the impression that I would be tempted to get pumped up on steroids so I could look like Arnold Schwarznegger, they are mistaken.
     
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  26. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Cal, I never thought you actually wanted to be like Arnold of the 1970s, but I did think you were taking that change up crap too seriously. Changing up will stimulate a little growth, but let's be for real, how much bigger will you really get? If you take 2 weeks off from the gym, you'll get more growth stimulus than changing your routine and that's a fact. It depends on you and how you like to work out. Personally, I don't train often enough to need a changeup anyway.
     
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  27. heycal

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    I was asking about it seriously, because I didn't know the answer. Did I need to change often or not to achieve reasonable gains? It looks like you are saying No, I don't need to.

    Regarding overall weight training and fitness issues, I do have an overall philosophy I follow, which is: design a realistic fitness program you can envision yourself having the time and motivation to follow for a couple of decades, and that you can envision your body being able to withstand for a couple of decades as well.

    For me, that means hitting the gym/weights every 3 or 4 days and getting out of there in under 45 minutes. Plus maybe 30 minutes of light cardio three times a week on top of that. THAT is a plan I can imagine having the motivation, time, and discipline to be able to follow for many years to come. Ergo, I will start doing that now, instead of getting all excited about getting into great shape, and trying hit the gym every 48 hours and doing 4 sets of each exercise and working out for an hour each time, AND running 5 miles a day 5 times a week. Because while I can almost imagine that being doable right now while I have the time and motivation, I can't imagine me doing that for years to come, or my body being able to withstand that for years to come.

    So that's my take on that. Do only what you can envision being able to do long term based on your own personality and physical traits, and then adjust your diet accordingly so you can try and stave off getting too fat.
     
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  28. heycal

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    Where do I sign up for this "take 2 weeks off to see better gains" program? Seems easy to follow.:)
     
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  29. JakeHCoker

    JakeHCoker Rookie

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    I know for mine, I just follow what needs improving. And during tennis practice, I use leg and wrist weights. Seems odd at first, but it's actually pretty easy after a while.
     
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  30. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Cal, you silly boy, I was talking about when you come back to your routine after taking 2 weeks off, but I think you knew that, at least I hope you did (j/k). At the end of 2 weeks, your muscles will be so relaxed that when you give it the old workout again, you'll get even more sore than if you stayed at the gym and switched from the barbell to dumbbells. Even the most experienced bodybuilders use the time off strategy although it may not be quite 2 weeks. Most of them take just a week off, but the principle's still the same.
     
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  31. superman1

    superman1 Legend

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    I don't know about this. High reps = endurance training, but if you're doing 5 sets with a really heavy weight for 5 reps, that's not endurance training, that's just beating the hell out of your muscles. I would advise beginners to just stick with cookie cutter programs like Starting Strength and 5X5. 5X5 is pretty cool because even though it's 5 sets, the first 4 sets are just like a warm-up.
     
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  32. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

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    3 sets is 50% more than 2 sets. The numbers may be small, but there is a difference that I've seen (and I'm not alone). Anything is better than nothing, but there has to be a line between not enough, moderate and too many sets. Don't feel bad: ten sets is more worthy of derision than two-I've seen too many gym rat jerkwads hog the flat bench and pump out bench presses for 30 minutes.
     
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  33. equinox

    equinox Hall of Fame

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    I've been lifting since late july.

    I'm certainly no expert and just came off my 1st week long reset, 3 weeks ago.

    I've went from unfit 78-80kgs to 66kgs by cutting out cola and regular junk food. I've moved back up to 70-72kgs.

    I do standard 4 day split and vary the exercises.
    3 sets 8-12 reps / 12+ bump .5-1kg.

    I'll drop a set if my body tells me to do so.

    I'll admit training by oneself is hard because of the motivation aspect. I have to eat like mad to keep weight.

    Excuse me , my scheduled meal is ready. sigh.
     
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  34. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    The advice on how to lift really means nothing if you don't also state what your goals are. All of the programs offered will be effective at producing different results.

    It would also be helpful if those offering advice would state how long they have been doing the programs they suggest and what type of results they have achieved.

    Even providing all of the above won't tell the whole story. If "mass" is your goal, I would also want to know your eating habits (i.e are you taking in enough calories).

    I would like to know your intensity (are you cranking out brutal hard sets or are you easily completing the last rep).

    I would also need to know how strict you are with your form. If you are sloppy, then any program you have been using is sure to produce less than good results.

    Certainly 2 people can follow the exact same program but do it so differently that their results are not comparable.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
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  35. zacinnc78

    zacinnc78 Professional

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    i dont know why ,but that was hilarious lol
     
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  36. heycal

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    What do we think of the value of doing tricep exercises for intermediate/non hard core weight trainers like myself?

    I keep hearing compound exercises are the best, and that's mostly what I do, but I also do bicep curls and tricep extensions.

    Are those last two exerices worth doing, particularly the triceps, or is that time better spent doing a couple of more sets of one of the compound exercises like bench presses, etc?
     
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  37. maleyoyo

    maleyoyo Rookie

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    I'd say it would depend on what your ultimate goal is. If mass is your goal then compound exercises and heavy weights are the way to go, so instead of doing one separate exercise for triceps, you can do close-grip bench press to focus on your triceps AND inner chest. Instead of bicep curls, you can do reverse grips pull-up. To me it's more effecient unless you plan to spend more time at the gym.

    The same boring routine that I stick with for years is 3 different exercises and 3 sets (12,10,8 reps with increasing weights) pyramid for every major body part. The keys for me to get good results besides diet are workload and intensity. For workload, Arnold once said that if his goal that day is to do x lbs bench press or y reps pull-up, then he will do just that no matter how many sets it would take him. As for intensity, your last rep of every set should be a struggle. That's why I used to work with the Smith machine a lot.
    Going to the gym 3 times a week, 1.5 hrs each time including 20 min cardio is more than enough for me.
     
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  38. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Cal, shapers are ok once in a while because you hit a part of the body you normally miss during compound movements. I wouldn't do shapers as part of my normal routine, but doing them once a month is fine. Overhead dumbbell extensions are great for getting the upper triceps which we often miss when simply doing presses. Like I said, once in a while, but not as a routine.
     
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  39. Kevin T

    Kevin T Professional

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    Yo Rickson,

    Since you and I are big bodyweight exercise (pullups, dips) proponents, I was wondering if you could talk a little about your routines when you were going at it hard. My routine for a while now has been pullups, perfect pushups, dips and lunges in various intensities, with or without weight, etc. Just looking to mix it up a little. Thanks homie!
     
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  40. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    If I take off from training for a while, I only do 1 set for as many reps as I can bang out on pull ups and the standard 15 for dips because my presses never seem to get weak. If I get back in the groove, it's usually 2 sets of 8-10 on pull ups and 15 x 2 on dips. When I get in a really good groove, it's 3 sets of 10 on pulls and 3 sets of 20 on dips.
     
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  41. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I guess my ultimate goal is more muscle so I can burn more fat, and doing so as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    What would be the point of doing an exercise only once a month? Seems to make more sense to either do it on a regular basis or not do it at all. I don't see how targeting the triceps once a month is going to doing anything at all.
     
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  42. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    ..........
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
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  43. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Here's another question about exercise: A few years back, it seemed like the advice when it came to aerobic exercise was that moderate/light intensity jogging etc. was the way to go, the ideal way to shed excess fat/burn calories. Lately it seems like the it's swung back to going faster is better and higher intensity is the best way. (The latter seem theory seems obvious to me. Run like hell, and you will see better results!)

    Can someone summarize the evolution in thinking in the last ten years or so about the ideal speed for jogging type activities if one wants to burn fat?
     
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  44. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Here you go, Cal. Many years ago, it was discovered that the "fat burning zone" was done at a slower pace than running. The slower you went, the more "fat calories" you burned even though you burned fewer total calories. Later on, these same geniuses realized that total calories burned meant much more than burning "fat calories" so they scrapped the whole concept of doing cardio at a slower pace.
     
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  45. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    I knew that junk seemed fishy at the time. Go slower? Come on! Common sense says if you run your ass off instead of waltzing around, you're gonna lose more weight.
     
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  46. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Question of the day: Years ago, I read somewhere that if your goal is to keep off the fat/loss weight, it's actually good to pig out once a week or so. I think the theory is that if you allow your body to get used to eating X number of calories every day, your body soon adapts to that and you quit losing weight. But if you pig out once in a while and keep your body guessin, you'll actually see better results.

    It's obviously an alluring theory. But do we buy it? Discuss.
     
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  47. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    A big, fat no to that one, cal. If you plan on doing the old let it loose day, once a week, you'll get poor results because you'll put back everything you lost for the week in just one day. If you plan on doing it once a month, you can go for it if you like, but don't go overboard. You see how tough it is, cal? Even when you do it just once a month, you still have to be careful.
     
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  48. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Can you back that up with any links, Rickson, or is it just your hunch?

    EDIT: Just found this. This guy sides with you mostly, but does open the door a crack.

    http://www.mens-total-fitness.com/cheat-days.html

    More on the topic:

    http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache...3850+diet+cheat+days&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=6&gl=us
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
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  49. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Do the math, cal. You lose 500 calories a day x 6 days = 3000 calories lost. You have a cheat day and go over by 3 or 4000 calories and you put back everything you lost.

    Let me simplify this:

    You take in 2500 to maintain and 2000 to lose = 500 calorie deficit

    After 6 days, you lose 3000 calories

    Day 7, you take in 6000 calories which is 3500 above your maintenance level

    End result, you gained 500 calories for the week.
     
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  50. heycal

    heycal Hall of Fame

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    Math doesn't always explain dieting, Rickson. And here's an example to prove it:

    If you cut out 500 calories a day, you may lose 1 pound a week, correct? Three weeks later, you may lose 3 pounds this way, right?

    So... Does that mean that you will lose 52 pounds in a year by cutting out those 500 calories, and 102 pounds in two years?
     
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