On a daily basis, I receive several questions, either through emails or social media. Most of the questions are repetitive, so I decided that I would do a weekly Muscle Book Q&A so that you can benefit from the answers I give.
“How much weight should I be lifting?”
“That’s a tough question to answer. It’s really going to depend on your lifting experience. If you are just starting out, I recommend that you lift lighter than you assume that you can. If you find that you can lift heavier, and lift it safely with good form, then increase your weight. Allow yourself to take it slow. There’s something out there called “ego lifting”, which is when a person attempts to lift more than they truly can due to, you guessed it- ego. This can and will, eventually, lead to injury, sometimes irreversable. Consider keeping a training log, recording your lifts and weight lifted so that you are able to track your progress.
“I have been training for a little less than a year. I have a special event coming up in a couple weeks. What is the best way for me to cut the body fat so that I can show off some of my new muscle?”
“This question is one that I get more often than most other questions. I will answer this with as much brutal truth as possible. There is no best way. I would never recommend a quick fix or “rapid weightloss” to anyone, no matter the reason. There are too many negative things that can and will happen. Your best bet would be to cut off sugary drinks and foods, train intense, adding in high intensity interval cardio, improve your nutrition and drink plenty of water. With a mere 2 weeks to be “ready”, there’s not much else you can do, safely. Next time, plan ahead.
“I can not get to the gym 5 times a week due to work travels. At most, I am abe to workout maybe 3 times a week. What kind of muscle gains can I make with that kind of schedule?”
“Many people assume that, to build quality lean muscle mass, you have to be in the gym 7 days a week. That’s untrue. First off, start with good nutrition. Even when traveling, this can still be achieved by making more intelligent choices with food. As for training… when you use compound exercises, such as Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, Clean and Press, et cetera, you will engage in building overall muscle building and fat burning. You can set up your 3 days of training to go something like this:
DAY 1: SQUAT, DEADLIFT, CLEAN & PRESS then include some cardio, delt raises, lat pulldowns, and leg presses or lunges
DAY 2: CHEST PRESS, DEADLIFTS, HANG CLEAN INTO A FRONT SQUAT then cardio, push ups, pull ups, bicep curls
DAY 3: JUMP SQUATS INTO LUNGES, OVERHEAD SHOULDER PRESS, BENT OVER ROWS then Dips, Crunches, Skull Crushers and cardio
Of course, these can be moved aound to fit a better schedule, as this is just an example. Be sure to allow enough time between days to recover. Plan ahead and find out if there are local gyms to use, especially if you are traveling for more than a couple days or so. Another is to make an investment in resistance bands for days when you can not make it to the gym at all.
“My right bicep is not as big as my left bicep, even though I train them hard. How do I even out the right to match the left? Should I use isolation moves but with heavier weight with the right arm?”
Great question!! I, too, have that same issue with my arms, except my right is more pronounced than my left. I find that I’ve been able to build those biceps muscles up quicker using the same weight as I do with the left, but with more reps. This allows me to completely exhaust the muscle fibers, say, during alternating dumbbell curls or concentration curls or dumbbell preachers. Same weight, more reps. The same can be done using isolations for legs, chest and the back, and delts. The goal is always to be symmetrical. I like to imagine, if I were folded lengthwise, like a piece of paper, I want each paired muscle to match.
“Does lower weight higher reps burn more fat than heavy weight low rep?”
Let me start by answer a question with a question- Which would require more muscle fibers? On a bench press, for instance, would 3 reps of 405 pounds work more muscle fibers than 25 reps of 185 pounds? Or, doing squats, would 1 rep of 405 pounds work more fibers than 20 reps of 225 pounds? When strength training, it is important to go for heavier weight. This is true. But, you should periodize your training. This means taking your training through intervals or “periods” to keep you rbody working harder. This has various ways, such as resistance, rest periods, rep speeds, etc. In particular, and my favorite, is going from less resistance for more repetitions to heavier resistance to less repititions. Increasing strength and muscle size. Muscle burns nobody fat, even at rest. So, to answer the original question- both. But each has to be used periodically.