Posted by: Anonymous | 2009-06-02

Weight training

Hello. I currently weigh 59kgs, am 1.61m tall and luckily dont find it difficult to build muscle - have always had some naturally. I have a few kg' s to go until I reach what I would consider more of an ideal weight (I mean less fat layers) however, am intent on changing my body shape to more of a leaner, toned one. My diet is good and I have managed to find an eating regime that works well for me and something I can stick to. I have realised recently though that the muscle I thought I still had has actually diminished quite a lot (guess its age and lack of exercise). I started on the machines at gym, but understand from what I have read, that high repetition, lower weight would do the trick in building lean muscle (and assists with losing the fat). However, and this is where I am a little confused - if I wanted to regain the muscle I once had (build it up a bit), should I not increase the heaviness of the weights? If this is the case, how many sets and how many repititions? Would this not assist in fat loss?? (more muscle, less fat, faster metabolism???). I want to be sure I' m doing the right thing as the last thing I want to do is build muscle under the fat layers and look like a sumu wrestler. I am also unsure as to the intensity (or how I should be feeling on the last rep e.g. can almost not finish the movement??). Your advise would be highly appreciated.

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Our expert says:
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Hi there

Yes, in principle, heavier weights and then fewer reps is probably the way to go. It's not so black and white though - you might, for example be able to do 15 reps at a given weight, I'd say you should probably lift the weight and aim to do 10 reps. You could even keep going, and do 6 reps of a much heavier weight, but I wouldn't go into that right away. Rather find the compromise, so that you're not too light, but also not too heavy that you are forcing it.

There's no answer to "what should the weight be", because that depends on you. I'd say you should find a weight that you could lift maybe 15 times before failure, and then do 3 sets of 10 reps on that weight, with a short rest between. But play it by ear as well, don't get bound into anything. If you can finish the last rep of the last set (in this case, the 30th lift in total), feeling like you're close to 'failure', then it's about right. If you can't finish it, it's probably too heavy, and if it's easy, it's too light.

Good luck

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