Another Gym question - when's best to repeat your sets?

What I tend to do, if the situation allows it is, do my reps* on a machine or of an excercise, then move onto the next machine or excercise and do a ‘circle’ so that the next set of the first thing I did comes afer I’ve done all the other things. Like so.

Arrive.

Use Machine/excercise 1.
Use Machine/excercise 2.
Use Machine/excercise 3.
Use Machine/excercise 4.
Use Machine/excercise 5.
Use Machine/excercise 6.

Use Machine/excercise 1.
Use Machine/excercise 2.
Use Machine/excercise 3.
Use Machine/excercise 4.
Use Machine/excercise 5.
Use Machine/excercise 6.

Use Machine/excercise 1.
Use Machine/excercise 2.
Use Machine/excercise 3.
Use Machine/excercise 4.
Use Machine/excercise 5.
Use Machine/excercise 6.

In other words, on any given machine, I come back to it after doing every other machine.

But some people seem to do all their sets in a row on the machine they are on, then move onto the next machine. Like so…
Use Machine/excercise 1.
Use Machine/excercise 1.
Use Machine/excercise 1.

Use Machine/excercise 2.
Use Machine/excercise 2.
Use Machine/excercise 2.

Use Machine/excercise 3.
Use Machine/excercise 3.
Use Machine/excercise 3.

Use Machine/excercise 4.
Use Machine/excercise 4.
Use Machine/excercise 4.

Use Machine/excercise 5.
Use Machine/excercise 5.
Use Machine/excercise 5.

Use Machine/excercise 6.
Use Machine/excercise 6.
Use Machine/excercise 6.
I don’t take this approach for several reasons - It’s machine-hogging - which I hate other people for. It leaves little rest time for the specific muscles the machine works (unless you just rest - which is a waste of time). (While I’m on the next machine I’m allowing the muscles worked on the previous machine to rest… so not wasting time)

But I can’t help wondering if the people who are doing all their same excercises together know something that I don’t. Is it more beneficial to muscle growth to repeat a set of the same excercise straight after the previous set?
*I am looking for growth so I set all the weights such that I can do about 7 reps before I fail in that particular set.

That’s the idea, yes.

The rest time should be fairly short, 30 seconds maybe, only long enough for the burn to lessen but not go away entirely. Doing this you’ll accomplish two things:

  • Your subsequent sets will be increasingly difficult, rather than equally difficult.
  • You will train to increase your endurance and ability to recover faster.

YMMV and, as with all things exercise, do what works for you. Exercising is better than not exercising, even if you’re doing it ‘wrong’.

I may try it for one of my gym visits.
Also, what’s better - 3 sets or 4?

What if my aim (at least for now) is to increase muscle size rather than endurance?

The answer is simple, it doesn’t matter.

Honest it doesn’t. The body doesn’t repsond better to any way to lifting weights.

But here’s what it DOES respond to, familiarity

You’re body always, repeat ALWAYS, takes the line of least resistance.

If you lift weights one way, that’s fine. No one way is best. The reason people fail (or one reason) is they keep doing it the same way. Your body responds to change.

The reason muscles grow is you lift something and your body says, “OK this is unusual.” Then you lift again, your body says “what is he doing?” Then you repeat it again, your body now says, “OK enough of this, if he’s gonna keep on lifiting, we’ll make the muscles a bit thicker so lifting isn’t so much a strain.” Thus your muscles grow.

What happens is eventually your body adapts and stops growing. This is why you CHANGE the way you lift. You should change your lifting routine every week, NEVER lift the same way more than a month. As you do it more and more you’ll get a feel for it.

So high reps, low weight, low reps high weight, upper body one week, lower body the nextg week. It does not matter. What will cause your body to get bigger and better is changing the routine.

I got a really kick ass body and I people always ask how you get it. CHANGE is the answer. Here’s a great tip, if you go to the gym find a machine no one uses. Chances are they don’t use it 'cause it’s hard. Then go USE it. :slight_smile:

Once you find yourself comfortable with a lifting routine, it’s already too late. Your body has adapted. So change it.

What you’re doing is called a “super set”. The last time I worked with a trainer he gave me a workout routine of supersets consisting of 3 sets of weights followed by a short burst of cardio to keep my heart rate at the level we wanted it to be. It’s a beating but I love it and I always leave the gym feeling like I really accomplished something. This type of workout is very difficult to do when the gym is crowded because there are too many people working in on the machines I need to get on. I don’t mind waiting but if I’m trying to keep my heart rate up I need to exercise at off peak hours.

I have had one visit where I do essentially what both Discipline and Markxxx suggest. i.e. I do all the sets at once on the same machine then move on (Discipline’s suggestion). And this represents a change in my routine (Markxxx’s suggestion)

I’m not totally dismissing it yet (and may not dismiss it ultimately) but it has highlighted a problem.

The theory is, do the 7 or so reps, rest for a short period, do the next 7, rest, the next 7.

But it goes more like this… do the 7, rest for a short period, struggle to do 6, rest, struggle to do 5.

I am assuming this is just caused by inexperience at this type of method. Hoping so. (I.e. that I will be able to do about 7 for each set)
I also want to stick to a format that will best lead to muscle growth… not because I want to be a muscly dude (I don’t want to) only that I have been led to believe that bigger muscles = more calorie burning all the time (even at rest). In other words if I do too many reps per set I’ll feel like I’m going backwards - making leaner musculature.

I haven’t agreed with much of what has been said so far, but instead of critiquing ideas that may be working for people, I’ll just make my standard suggestion to make exrx.com your bible. I can’t vouch for everything, but they seem to cite the American College of Sports Medicine a bit.

How you lift depends not only on what results you’re looking for but also on how experienced you are. How many days a week do you lift? and do you do pretty much the same routine every time? How sore are you after these sessions?

Your reaction to the change in routine is normal. It’s pretty much optimal. The whole idea of stacking your sets (and weight lifting in general really) is to fatigue the most commonly used muscle fibers and neuromuscular synapses in the first set or two so that you have to recruit new fibers and synapses. If you can do the same number of reps on the last set as you did the first, then you didn’t do enough reps in the first set. Did that make sense?

The idea of recruitment ties into what Mark said about needing to change things up, though I think that each routine should be performed 4-8 times to solidify the new fiber connections before trying something new.