With the arrival of summer and the approach of the bathing season, the concerns with our body increase. Unceasingly, we search for the fastest and most effective method to achieve that summer body.
Regardless of the goal, everyone wants to be in their best shape ever.
That being said, it’s easy to see that, with the increased search, offers appear.
It’s common to see advertising allusive to the training method used by our idol, or to the diet or workout plan that would be ideal to “dry” your belly in 5 days…there are several proposals with several promises.
Without wanting to take the merit for any training protocol, we must warn that these (and other) methods are developed for people with other routines.
That is, one of the assumptions that we must always take into account is that we are all different (genetic individuality), and therefore, our training must be the best for us as an individual, and the method that can be applied to one person may not be applied to another.
Therefore, one question that tends to arise in the world of fitness is: “In the end, which is the best workout for me?”
Discover the answer to this question in our article!
Which is the best workout for me?
The answer is: It depends! Yes, it’s a somewhat vague answer, however, with some of the references that I’ll give below, it will be easier for you to understand it.
Variables that influence the prescription of a workout
Level of experience:
Before preparing a workout plan, it’s important to find out what your sports background is: if you already practice exercise and for how much time you’ve been practicing it.
From this point of view, individuals can be divided into three groups: beginners, intermediates and advanced.
Most people are wrong when they position themselves in a group.
There’s a tendency to think that we workout more than we actually do.
As the name implies, a beginner has no experience with the material nor exercises.
Usually, we can find them for hours and hours on cardio machines.
Beginners evolve quite easily, don’t need a great volume of training and, to achieve good results, it’s enough to workout 3-4 times per week.
This is where most people are.
It’s the individual who is familiar with the gym, and who already has notions of how the equipment works and how to perform the exercises.
You can spend a lot of time in this stage. It all depends on the goal and on how you face your training.
In terms of evolution, it’s a level above the beginner, but there’s still a lot to evolve.
You need to increase your training volume and frequency.
In this level, the athlete already has a different consciousness of their body compared to the beginner.
This is a very high level, it’s what needs more volume and frequency of training.
Its evolution potential is less than the previous levels, since a lot of experience was already gained, as well as a very evolved physical level.
Periodize and plan according to their needs.
Works out about 6-7 times per week at a high volume.
As you may have noticed, the biggest differences between the three levels are the training volume, the frequency and the potential for evolution.
Therefore, when a training is prescribed, it’s necessary to take the volume, intensity and frequency into account.
Volume, Frequency and Intensity of your Workout
Training volume, frequency and intensity are three important concepts in the world of fitness that are closely related to training plans and which should be adapted to different levels of experience.
Do you know what they mean?
Volume of Workout
Here, I will use the repetitions and the sets as variables for definition of the training volume, using the load to support the understanding of what training volume is.
Training volume involves, in its definition, the repetitions x sets and relates to other variables, such as the load. It means that it’s related to the amount of load lifted by us in a training session.
According to Wernborn et al(2007), this variable has a direct influence on muscle mass and strength. But everything will depend on the evolution of this volume, and we must increase it progressively.
A simple way to understand this is:
4 sets of 10 repetitions each with 100 kg of load = 4x10x100 = 4000 kg lifted in this exercise.
Intensity is not how exhausted you are in a given exercise, but how close you are to your 1RM (Repetition Maximum) – how much effort you make to perform a given exercise in relation to your maximum effort.
There are several ways to define the intensity of a workout, but let’s use 1MR to simplify things.
The 1RM test is defined as:
“(…) the maximum weight that can be lifted once with a correct lifting technique (…).”
Therefore, the intensity will be defined by the percentage of your 1RM. If you can only perform one repetition, you’ll probably be close to or at your 1RM; if you perform ten repetitions, you’ll be close to 75% of your 1RM.
The frequency, as the author already cited – Wernborn – defines it, is the number of times you stimulate your muscle per week (not necessarily the number of days you workout per week).
Many studies suggest that a higher training frequency leads to better results, as long as we respect rest periods.
To clarify this concept, look at the following example:
The Individual X works out five times per week and trains legs on Wednesdays.
The Individual Y works out three times per week and trains the whole body during these workouts.
That is, individual X has a higher frequency of training, but has a lower frequency of leg training than Y.
These variables will be important and determining in every training plan and, according to the prescription, it will be easy to perceive at what level of experience you are.
Training recommendations may vary according to experience, but also according to your goal.
Here are some examples of recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) for the goal of muscle hypertrophy:
Example of ACSM recommendations
According to the ACSM, when muscle hypertrophy is the goal, the recommendation is:
- Intensity (load): 70-85% 1RM for beginners and intermediates and 70-100% for advanced.
- Volume: 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps for beginners and intermediates and 3-6 sets of 1-12 reps for advanced.
- Frequency: Beginners should workout the whole body 2-3 days per week; individuals in intermediate level should train the whole body three days per week, or 4 days if they train the upper and lower body (alternated). Advanced level individuals can train more days per week, by training each large muscle group once or twice per week.
The rest period, which wasn’t a variable mentioned, but which is equally important, varies according to the intensity and the load.
For example, for exercises of greater intensity with heavier weights, the recommendation is 2-3 minutes of rest in between sets. For less intense exercises with lighter weights, the recommendation is 1-2 minutes of rest in between sets.
As you can see, there are only recommendations, and not a recipe for success.
In addition to levels of experience, other variables influence the road to success, such as genetics, age, sex, body type, or metabolism.
Don’t hurry, and before following a determined workout plan, try to find out what suits you best, only then you’ll be able to discover what’s the best workout for you.