When To Change Weight, Reps, Sets and Rest Times to Burn Fat / Build Muscle


man performing preacher curls

December 4, 2017

Knowing when to increase or decrease workloads, repetitions, sets and rest times is vital to ensuring your ongoing success with your weight training program. Regardless if you want to lose weight, burn fat, build muscle or get fit knowing how to manipulate your training program will always ensure consistent and ongoing progressive improvement.

The goal of any fitness program is to always improve. This is without a doubt the most important element of any fitness program when it comes to reaching your goals. The more you improve the faster you can expect to reach your goals and this is why it’s important to know when to change those elements in your program such as workloads, repetitions, sets and rest times in order to keep improving.

It is also important to note that in order to succeed you MUST have a structured process in place that allows you to improve each and every workout with a specific goal in mind. This will eliminate most training plateaus in addition to getting the most from each and every workout.

In order to keep burning fat and building muscle it is imperative to do incorporate one of the three progression types into your training:

1) Keep adding more weight with each passing workout using the same repetitions, sets and rest times as you did in the previous workout;

2) Add more repetitions keeping the weight, sets and rest times the same as you did in the previous workout;

3) Reduce the rest times in between sets and exercises keeping the weight and repetitions the same

The problem that most routines encounter is the reliance strictly on one of these factors for too long without utilizing the other factors. For example, a typical 5 x 5 program may rely on the use of factor 1 (adding more and more weight) but there will come a time when the body just can’t handle any more weight at which point, it will encounter a plateau. Or one may keep increasing the repetitions but at which point are there diminishing returns by performing too many repetitions and not manipulating other factors. Also, you can only reduce the rest times to a certain point.

What does one do? The answer is to use a combination of the above noted factors which opens up the body’s growth factors and forces it to adapt in multiple ways thereby bypassing a possible plateau scenario.

My technique uses all three. I prefer to incorporate all three into my training programs (for myself and my clients) to ensure that one progresses safely, effectively and efficiently throughout the entire training cycle. This technique will work well regardless of your age, gender and if you’re a beginner, intermediate or advanced trainer.

Everyone is different and most will have different methods for achieving certain goals. Most trainers will have different approaches but this is the one that I use and it works well for beginners. This is a sample 12 week fat burning / muscle building progression that uses 3 types of methods to keep you burning fat and building muscle.

This method doesn’t rely on the use of super heavy weight and is very safe so it can be performed by just about anyone regardless of age or gender. Using this type of progression you can expect to keep burning fat, getting stronger and

This cycle is meant for beginners who want to fat burning / lose weight / build / tone muscle.

Burning Fat / Losing Weight / Building Muscle

Use the following progression cycle for each of your exercises in your program. The following is meant for beginners and intermediate but can also be used by advanced trainers. If you are an advanced trainer you may have to start with 3 or 4 sets instead of 2. This example is meant to help explain the technique for one particular exercise (bench press for example) but try and use this approach for all the exercises in your routine.

Week 1: Start new training program

Weight: Very light. Start with the lightest weight possible.

Sets: Start with 2 sets per body part

Repetitions range: Start with 12 repetitions

Rest times: Start with 1 minute and 30 seconds rest in between set and 1 minute after each exercise

Week 2: Once you can perform 12 repetitions in a given exercise with relative ease increase the repetitions first.

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: Increase to 15

Rest times: Keep the same

Once you can perform 15

Week 3: Once you can perform 15 repetitions in a given exercise with relative ease increase the repetitions

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: Increase to 20

Rest times: Keep the same

Once you can perform 15

Week 4 : Once you can perform 20 repetitions in a given exercise with relative ease increase the weight. Add 10% to 15% more weight to your exercise (s) and reduce your repetitions back down to 15.

Weight: Add 10% to 15% more weight to your exercise (s)

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: 15

Rest times: Keep the same

Week 5: Once you can perform 15 repetitions using the new weight, increase the repetitions by 2 for your next workout.

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: Increase to 17

Rest times: Keep the same

Week 6: Once you can perform 17 repetitions using the new weight, increase the repetitions to 20 for your next workout.

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: Increase to 20

Rest times: Keep the same

Week 7: Once you can perform 20 repetitions with the new weight add 1 additional set and add 10% to 15% more weight and reduce repetitions down to 15.

Weight: Add 10% to 15% more weight

Sets: Add 1 more set

Repetitions: Reduce to 15

Rest times: Keep the same

Week 8 : Once you can perform 15 repetitions using the new weight and additional set increase the repetitions up to 17.

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: 17

Rest times: Keep the same

Week 9 : Once you can perform 17 repetitions, increase the same repetitions back up to 20.

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: 20

Rest times: Keep the same

Week 10: Once you can perform 20 repetitions, increase the weight by another 10% to 15% and reduce down to 15 and add one more set.

Weight: Add 10% to 15% more weight

Sets: Add 1 more set

Repetitions: 15

Rest times: Keep the same

Week 11: Once you can perform 15 repetitions, increase that to 20 and decrease your rest times for the next workout

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: 20

Rest times: Reduce to 50 seconds instead of 1 minute and 30 seconds

Week 12: End weight training program . Once you can perform the exercise with reduced rest times of 50 seconds, further reduce that to 35 to 45 seconds for your next workout keeping everything else the same.

Weight: Keep the same

Sets: Keep the same

Repetitions: 20

Rest times: Reduce between 35 and 45 seconds and keep everything else the same.

This type of set up can be applied to all of your exercises in your program. The idea is to increase muscular output (capacity) while gradually adding more and more physical demands (intensity) which will 1) burn more calories over the course of the training cycle; and 2) stimulate more muscle growth and strength. This is a safe progression that doesn’t rely on the use of super heavy weight and will work well for just about anyone regardless of age or gender. Let’s look at the example in chart form:

12 Week Weight Training Cycle Sample
Week
Weight
Sets
Reps
Rest Periods
1
Very light
2
12
1 minute 30 seconds
2
Keep the same
2
15
1 minute 30 seconds
3
Keep the same
2
20
1 minute 30 seconds
4
Increase 10% to 15%
2
15
1 minute 30 seconds
5
Keep the same
2
17
1 minute 30 seconds
6
Keep the same
2
20
1 minute 30 seconds
7
Increase 10% to 15%
3
15
1 minute 30 seconds
8
Keep the same
3
17
1 minute 30 seconds
9
Keep the same
3
20
1 minute 30 seconds
10
Increase 10% to 15%
4
15
1 minute 30 seconds
11
Keep the same
4
20
50 seconds
12
Keep the same
4
20
35 - 45 seconds

You may be wondering, why the high repetitions? When it comes to burning fat and building muscle, remember this:

High repetitions + gradual increase in workloads + gradual rest times reduction = higher level of muscular output which develops more muscular capacity to burn high levels of fat and tone / build muscle

Why not use heavier and heavier weight? Remember, the above noted method is considered a safe method and is great for those of you who are over the age of 40. The above progression is easier on the joints and ligaments (than using heavy weight) but it does place enough stress on the muscles to stimulate fat burning in addition to muscle growth (without placing too much strain on the nervous system).

What do you do after 12 weeks? Simple – wash, rinse and repeat. Take one week off from training and repeat the cycle but this time, start at 4 sets and either:

  • Keep reducing the rest times to 20 seconds. I call this method 20 by 20 in which you perform 20 repetitions and count to 20 and perform another 20 repetitions until the set is done
  • Add in a super set with another exercise such as the flat bench fly and repeat the process for each exercise in the super set
  • Add drop sets for your last sets

The possibilities are endless but the point is to consistently improve from one workout to the next for the duration of your training cycle regardless if its 6, 8, 12 or 16 weeks. As I mentioned earlier, your success will depend on how well you progress and using the above noted progression technique you can expect to consistently progress at an effective rate.

Remember, the above noted progression is only a sample designed for beginners. You may need to adjust other factors as you progress to ensure the program is consistently becoming more challenging. For example, you may want to start reducing rest times in weeks 6 instead of weeks 10. You will have to play this by ear.


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Of course, this all depends on how well your diet is constructed but that’s another story…If you need information on a fat burning diet see this page here.

https://www.building-muscle101.com/beg_fat_burn_guide.html

Have a question? Send me an email at:

Buildingmuscle101@vianet.ca

All the best and good luck,

Blake

As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.



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