Everyone starting out bodybuilding gets things very wrong in this category, bad advice from friends, fellow gym members and yes even magazines. A typical example is doing what’s called the pyramid weight lift scheme. Where you start lifting light and go one step higher every time until you reach your maximum and then you go back down to the lowest weight.
Why is doing the pyramid scheme wrong?
Did you know your muscles have memory? When you finish your workout, go home and rest, the next time your muscles will expect to lift where you finished off last time. This is horrible when you did pyramids because the last weight you lifted was probably 5kg or heaven forbid 1kg. That why you should STOP exercising when you reached the maximum weights you can lift. The other reason why pyramids is bad: doing that last small weight has a burning sensation correct ? You may think that you are making your muscle so tired that is has nothing else to do but grow, but you would be wrong. You are feeling lactic acid build up; this is not due to muscle stimulation. You are robbing yourself of pure growth. In my article Why do my muscles hurt after a workout I explain the pain caused by this.
Should I warm up before I lift?
Before any weight lifting you must warm up. We will do something similar to the first half of the pyramid scheme. You should first find out what your one rep max is. One rep max is the maximum weight you can lift doing one rep. So take for example bicep curls , take the heaviest weight you can find and try do one rep, find that weight you can lift all the way. After finding that weight go find a weight that is half the weight, we will start lifting using this.
Start off by lifting half your one rep max weight 12 times, resting 1-2 minutes in between each set. Then do 10 reps. Now we will take a heavier weight about 70% of the one max rep, do 6 reps of this. Then take a weight of about 80%, do 3 reps, 95% do 1 rep. Now take a weight that is 105% of your one max rep, we will use this weight for training. But how can you take a weight higher than your one max rep? This is the beauty in warming up in this way as you prepare your muscles for heavy lifting, you give it blood and oxygen in order to strengthen and prevent injuries.
How much should I be lifting then?
Here is where the magic is, after warming up you should be lifting that 105% weight of your one rep max 4-6 times until your muscle go into fatigue. If you can do more than 6 reps then it’s too light for you, if you cannot do at least 4 reps it’s too heavy. It is very important to get this correct otherwise you won’t stimulate your muscles correctly.
You should be doing about 3 sets of each muscle group using this method. If you train like this you will see results every time and lift more and more each time.