Heavy lifting is not for the faint of heart. But if you want to build muscle mass and increase strength, lifting heavy weights will get you there, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. To get the most out of your heavy lifting routine choose a workout that offers the proper exercises and frequency to get the most benefit.
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Types of Exercises
Choose exercises to target the muscles you want to get bigger. If you are designing a total body workout, incorporate multi-joint exercises, such as squats, with single-joint isolating exercises, such as triceps extensions. The ACSM recommends beginning your workout with a multi-joint exercise and then choosing individual exercises to target certain muscle groups. Choose a minimum of eight exercises and expand as your training intensifies.
Number of Repetitions
To get the most from heavy lifting, perform the proper number of repetitions. The ACSM recommends performing six to 12 repetitions at a time to build muscle. If you prefer heavy lifting, choose a weight that will allow you to perform six repetitions. In addition, alternate workouts from heavy lifting and lower reps to slightly lighter lifting and higher reps up to 12. This will promote the best muscle growth and decrease your risk for injury. Always work out with a spotter, particularly if you are using heavy weights.
Number of Sets
A set is the number of times you perform a particular exercise with a given number of repetitions. The ACSM recommends that multiple sets be used to maximize muscle growth. Start with performing two sets of each exercise, then progress to three or more as your body adjusts. Allow yourself one to two minutes of rest between each set to give your muscles time to recover.
Frequency of Workouts
According to the ACSM, strength train two to three days per week, if you are at a beginner or intermediate level. Advanced trainers may exercise four to five days per week but should not work out more than five days to prevent overtraining. If you miss a workout day, simply pick up where you left off. Do not wait until the next scheduled training day to pick up your workout, if possible.