The Many Faces of Resistance Training: Systems

Photo: Steve Cook by

Different training styles yield various results. Depending on which workout you choose and how you execute it, you can gain strength, larger muscles, or just tone up your current figure; there’s so many options!

A Single-Set System means you’re doing one set of each exercise during your workout. Each set consists of a heavy weight (close to your eight rep max – 8RM), that you can use to perform 8-12 reps. Your form should be slightly shaky when you approach your last reps, and you should rest for approximately 4 to 5 minutes before moving onto another exercise.
Single-Set Systems work for sport training, strength gain goals, and anyone with less time to devote to resistance training. If time constraints are the issue, Single-Set Systems can be converted to an express circuit – using the same method, but with decreased rest periods. (30 seconds to 1 minute)

Multi-Set Systems allow you to vary resistance in multiple sets of exercises. (which I’ll touch on later) A classic approach to this method: do 2-3 warm up sets of increasing weight, followed by 2-3 sets at the same weight. When done properly, this workout system increases strength and body composition; without changing the variables (mode of exercise, reps, sets, rest periods, etc.) – there is high potential to hit a plateau in progress.

Bulk Systems work well for anyone looking to gain strength in a short amount of time (8 weeks), or as a pre-season workout routine for building strength. It’s a multi-set system with specific guidelines, using a weight that you can only complete 5 to 6 reps with. In a bulk system, you will do 3 sets, and rest for approximately 3 to 5 minutes depending on your chosen weight.

The Circuit System involves a series of workouts with minimal rest between them. You choose the exercises and muscle groups to train; perform 10-15 reps of each at 40 – 60 percent of your 1RM, and rest 15-30 seconds; complete the circuit several times with a 1 minute rest period at the end. It isn’t likely that circuit training will increase strength, but it increases cardiovascular and muscle endurance.

This is just an introduction to resistance training styles. Stay tuned for next week, when I touch on Multi-Poundage Systems, Super-Pump Systems, and Breakdown Training!

Steven Moore About Steven Moore

Passionate Personal Fitness Trainer, and NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist at Blitz Conditioning. Prone to spurts of random nonsense. [Read my full bio]

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