To Your Health
January, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 01)
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Words to Know: Weight-Training Lingo

Compound Training: Targeting multiple muscle groups with a particular exercise. For example, barbell squats work the legs and the upper body (back, core muscles).

Concentric Phase: Done as the muscle extends or relaxes; "concentric strength" is the weight that can be lowered under control.

For example, the "down" phase of a barbell curl.

Drop Sets: Drop sets are performed by following a set with another set with less weight, and usually less reps. This is done for the last two sets of an exercise.

Eccentric Phase: Done as the muscle contracts; "eccentric strength" is the weight that can be lifted working against gravity. For example, the "up" phase of a barbell curl.

Giant Sets: A giant set consists of performing different exercises for two or more body parts; for example, biceps barbell curls followed by triceps extensions. There is minimal rest in between the exercises, but rest in between sets can be from 1-2 minutes.

Isolation Training: Targeting one specific muscle group with a particular exercise; for example, biceps curls to isolate the biceps muscle.

woman workout at gym - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Rep: A rep is a movement within an exercise. It contains a concentric (positive) phase and an eccentric (negative) phase. Example: 12 reps means you would complete a movement 12 times, then take a break, and then repeat. Generally speaking; higher reps (12-15 or higher) increase muscle tone, mid-range (8-12) build muscle size, and lower-end (3-8) develop strength.

Rep Out: Rep out is a term used in working out to say: Perform the same exercise (with the same weight) until you are unable to do any more reps.

Sets: Sets are the amount of reps grouped together in one session. For example, if you are doing two sets of 12 reps, that means you would complete a movement 12 times, take a break, and then do 12 more repetitions.

Super sets: Super-setting consist of performing different exercises for one body part with minimal or no rest; for example, shoulder presses followed immediately by lateral dumbbell raises. There is minimal rest between the exercises, but rest between sets can be from 1-2 minutes. (Note: As discussed in "Maximize Your Workout" (November 2009 issue), while super sets can be performed using weights for both exercises, they can also be done using body-weight only for the second exercise.)

Five Tips for Weight-Training Success

  1. Resist the temptation to do more than your body can safely handle, or you risk overtraining. Weight training breaks your muscles down and adequate rest between sessions is a must for recovery and regeneration. If your body is not improving with weight training, the most likely cause is overtraining. Four days per week is the recommended maximum amount of training to ensure results.

  2. Never hold your breath while straining to lift a weight. Exhale during the eccentric phase and inhale during the concentric motion. This ensures proper technique and decreased chance of injury.

  3. Keep a smooth motion during the lift with no jerking or swinging motions. Decrease the amount of weight and lift slower with good technique. Your muscles will be more stimulated for faster results.

  4. Change your workout routine every 4-6 weeks. Your body has an amazing ability to adapt to its environment. It's called homeostasis, and it can be the one challenge to overcoming the dreaded "plateau." If you plateau, your body stops improving and you have difficulty gaining muscle and losing fat. And that's exactly what you don't want.

  5. Train with a workout partner. Having another person to hold you accountable to a regular exercise routine and assist with intense lifts can make a big difference. Setting goals for both of you can help sustain the motivation and commitment to succeed.

Perry Nickelston, DC, is clinical director of the Pain Laser Center in Ramsey, N.J., where he focuses on performance enhancement, corrective exercise and metabolic fitness nutrition To learn more about Dr. Nickelston, visit