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How Can I Set My Fitness Goals?

Repetitions:
Physical performance and physiological adaptations are demonstrated to be linked to the intensity and number of repetitions performed (Campos, 2002). In general, studies divide subjects into four groups of repetition training; a low repetition group (3-5 reps), an intermediate repetition group (9-11 reps), a high repetition group (20-28 reps), and a control group. Low and intermediate rep groups are shown to have significant hypertrophy for all major fiber types (types I, IIA, and IIB). The high rep group is better adapted for submaximal, prolonged contractions that improve aerobic power and time to exhaustion.

Low and intermediate repetition training is recommended for those interested in strength gains and major cosmetic changes. High repetition training is recommended for those interested less muscle gain and those who prioritize aerobic or endurance (e.g. marathon runners, fat loss, toning, etc.)

Weight/Load:
Differences in resistance is shown to induce different types of physiological responses including muscle cross-sectional area, increases in “1-rep-maximum”, and isokinetic strength (Holm, 2008). In general, light load resistance training is sufficient to induce a small but significant muscle hypertrophy reflected by small increases in cross-sectional area, small increases in “1-rep-maximum,” but no change in isokinetic strength. On the other hand, heavy load resistance training is shown to have more than double the increase in cross-sectional area than that of light load training (Mangine, 2015). Heavy load training is also shown to have a more significant increase in “1-rep-maximum” and an improvement in isokinetic muscle strength.

Rest Time:
Rest interval between sets is an important variable in resistance exercise prescription. The amount of rest between sets can influence the efficiency, safety, and ultimate effectiveness of a strength training programme. Higher levels of muscular power has been demonstrated across sets with 3-5 minutes of rest versus 1 minute of rest between sets (de Salles, 2009). These findings indirectly demonstrate gains in muscular endurance when utilizing short rest intervals.

Velocity:
The use of velocity as a fitness metric and its incorporation in training has been around for a few decades but gaining popularity fast. The researchers who discovered the concept were trying to understand what optimal weight should be used for a variety of training exercises, and they used velocity of the barbell to determine the weight parameters of the load. For athletes competing in sports, the use of velocity-based resistance training has been shown to improve performance on sport-specific tests and much of that has to do with the muscle types involved, not just in the sport you are playing, but also down to what position you are.

For example, fast lengthening contractions are attributed to greater hypertrophy and strength gains when compared with slow velocities (Shepstone, 2004; Lacerda, 2015). Type I muscle fiber size increased in both fast and slow training. However, type IIa and IIx muscle fiber cross-sectional area increased in both types of training but the increases were greater with fast velocity training. Different muscle composition adaptations are pivotal to reaching specific and personal fitness goals.

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