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Eryk Bui's training heavy

How Many, How Much?

One of the most asked questions deals with not what exercises to do, but how many sets and how much weight to use.  There exists a direct relationship between sets, reps, and the amount of stimulus or weight.  An equilibrium between the three will produce the most desired effect, whereas too much of one over the others will lead to a variety of ill-effects depending on which one is more dominant.   Too many repetitions and sets will cause boredom and lead to plateaus. 
Too much weight and sets will lead to muscular failure and injury.  You get the picture ??? too much or too little of anything is a bad thing.  The key will be balance.  This article will show you how to manipulate the three variables (reps, sets, and weight) to effectively produce a desired product.  What is a desired product?  It can be muscular size, muscular strength, muscle tone or any other muscle quality.  What ever it is, we can help you achieve it. 

If your goal is to gain size, then plan on increasing the set and weight variables and decreasing the repetition variable.  In order to force or induce a change in muscular size (growth) you have to give it a reason to do so.  This is what happens when you train heavy and continually increase weight.  The body part being trained will be broken down completely and thus have to be repaired.  The degree of muscular fiber breakdown will be indicated through the amount of muscular soreness experienced. 

Notice I said ???muscular soreness????  That???s because if you feel sorer in your joints than the surrounding muscles, then you have done something wrong.  Usually joint pain is due to poor biomechanics.  Don???t get me wrong.  Muscular soreness does indicate that the muscle fibers have been damaged, but muscle fibers repair themselves all the time.  Muscular breakdown and repair is a normal process.  Joint or tendon breakdown and repair are not.  In fact, joint and tendon breakdown can be repaired only through surgical means.  I have worked with enough orthopedists and patients to know that once you damage tendons or ligaments, they are never quite as strong or stable again. 

So having said this, when you increase your weight then decrease the number of reps, but not the number of sets.  Think of it in terms of relative volume.  The increase in sets will allow you to make up the total volume lost through the decrease in repetitions.  Although it will never be exact, the goal should still be to restore as much balance as possible. 

Keep in mind that other factors should be included in the overall picture.  Your diet will contribute to muscular repair and subsequent increase.  Please refer to the article called ???Bulls, Chickens, and Pigs:  Which One Are You????  Cardiovascular stimulation is not a vital component when increasing muscle size and density is the objective.  In fact, 15 minutes of cardiovascular stimulation everyday or 30 minutes every-other-day is adequate.  Do just enough cardio to keep the metabolism working.  Think of your metabolism as a furnace.  Keep it stimulated or it will burn out.  For more information on cardiovascular conditioning, please refer to the article ???To Cardio OR Not to Cardio:  That is the Burning Question???. 

If your goal is to maintain bodyweight, then be consistent with repetitions, sets, and amount of weight.  The idea here is to continue stimulating the body, but not to the point of complete exhaustion.  The degree of soreness should be noticeable, but not over-bearing.  Over-bearing soreness is best depicted by stiff and achy muscles.  Continue to emphasize proper technique with each and every set.  Repetitions per set should be at least 10 and no more than 20.  At least 3 sets and no more than 5 total sets per body part.    Please refer to the article ???Bulls, Chickens, and Pigs:  Which One Are You???? for more information on how to implement a nutritional plan to support your ???maintenance plan???.  

Although it is acceptable to change exercises regularly, it is more important to keep the weight down and repetitions high.  Unlike those who are training for size, cardiovascular stimulation is a necessary component in maintaining bodyweight.  At least 20 minutes of stimulation daily is required. 

If your goal is to lose body fat or decrease bodyweight, then light with occasional moderate weight stimulation is the key.  Repetitions and sets should also stay relatively high with less emphasis on weight.  Use weight that you can perform 20 comfortable repetitions with.  Be sure to utilize proper technique with each and every repetition and set.  Muscular soreness should be kept to a minimal because you do not want to hinder your ability to remain consistent in any way.  Range of motion and consistency is the most important factors in determining your success.  Cardiovascular stimulation and proper nutrition are equally important to your success as the weightlifting.  Cardio is important because it is a much more efficient means of disposing excess body fat than weightlifting.  At least 30 minutes of stimulation daily is required. 
Obesity has a common trait ... a slow metabolism.  Please refer to the article ???Bulls, Chickens, and Pigs:  Which One Are You???? for more information on how to implement a nutritional plan. 

What ever your goals, having a plan is essential.  Properly planning will stimulate, motivate, and keep you focused on the long-term goal of fitness.  A plan is more than a diagram.  It is your journal and will become your reference guide.  So put it on paper.  Transfer your thoughts and feelings about this change in lifestyle onto paper and keep it in a safe, but accessible place.  Ultimately, this journal will become a document of your life-long commitment to health and fitness.  
As you get closer to your goals, you will realize how this agreement transcends you and becomes your commitment to your family and loved ones.  Your children and their children will become benefactors of your decision.  They will inherit your knowledge and perseverance and pass it on down the line. 



Growth Factor

Since posting the articles about my heavy and hardcore training philosophy, I have received many requests for a glimpse at my typical workout numbers. My goal with each workout is to apply enough aggression to (1) move as much weight as efficiently and safely as possible, and (2) to naturally stimulate my body???s own production of testosterone. I utilize my power movements (squat, bench, and deadlift) to force my body to kick out more testosterone.

I do have a training partner and have always stressed the importance of safety. Make sure you have someone who is knowledgeable and capable of spotting properly. Training heavy is extremely beneficial and vital to rapid muscle growth.

I will list the poundage and repetitions for each individual set, set by set, from all warm-up sets through all subsequent sets. I do have ???off??? days when the strength just isn???t all there so the numbers posted below are from my ???good??? days. The bold print is just there to help you follow the numbers better. So with no further adieu, here they are:

225 X 20, 315 X 20, 405 X 6-10, 455 X 2, 475 X 1, 315 X 15-20, 225 X 20

185 X 20, 225 X 20, 275 X 10, 315 X 8-10

(Dumbbells only go up to 125LB at my gym)
100 X 20, 125 X 20, 125 X 15, 125 X 20, 125 X 15

60 X 12, 80 X 10, 90 X 10, 100 X 10, 110 X 10

225 X 20, 315 X 15, 405 X 12, 515 X 10, 600 X 5-8, 675 X 2, 700 X 1

I use leg press as a supplemental movement in addition to squats. I always squat and never use the leg press as a primary movement. A single set consists of 10 reps with my feet together to hit my outer sweep, 10 reps with my feet shoulder width apart to hit the medial portion of my quads, and 10 reps with my feet in a sumo stance to hit my inner thighs. For this compound movement, my sets and weights are as follows:

495 X 30, 585 X 30, 675 X 30, 675 X 30

135 X 20, 185 X 15, 225 X 10, 275 X 5-8, 315 X 5-8

80 X 20, 100 X 20, 115 X 15, 125 X 12, 125 X 12

50 X 20, 65 X 15, 80 X 10, 80 X 10, 50 X 20

135 X 20, 185 X 20, 225 X 20, 275 X 15, 315 X 12, 365 X 6-8

100 X 12, 125 X 10, 125 X 10, 125 X 10

95 X 15, 135 X 10, 155 X 10, 185 X 5-8, 225 X 2-4, 185 X 5-8

50 X 10, 65 X 10, 80 X 8-10, 90 X 4-6, 90 X 4-6, 65 X 10

225 X 20, 275 X 15, 315 X 12, 315 X 12, 225 X 20

95 X 15, 135 X 12, 185 X 10, 185 X 10, 135 X 12

135 X 15, 225 X 12, 275 X 10, 315 X 10, 405 X 10

(I prefer a sumo stance to a traditional one.)
225 X 20, 315 X 12, 405 X 10, 495 X 6-10, 585 X 5-8, 585 X 5-8

Written By: Eryk Bui @

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