1) Rep range = 30-60 reps per muscle group
Current research has shown this to be the ideal rep range for muscle hypertrophy. This means the 3 sets of 10 reps of bicep curls is at the lower end of that rep range (30 total reps). If you did 5 sets of 5 reps of weighted chin-ups/pull-ups before that then you have done enough for the day. If you cannot provide adequate muscle stimulus from that rep range then you are doing something wrong.
2) Training Frequency
A lot of people will go to the gym 5/6x each week and training one body part for a full hour. Whilst this may mean you have put in a good workout for that body part this is not optimal for long-term growth. Many people following this plan will find that the weight they can shift on the bar stalls, they just don’t get any bigger and their weight stays the same (though that ultimately comes down to the diet).
This is why upper/lower splits (4 days per week training) and full body workouts (2-3 days training) can be popular and effective. In a one hour session you can still hit the ideal rep range for your targeted muscle groups and also train those muscle groups more frequently over the week. Moreover you are gaining extra days for rest, even if you also do further training for sports outside of the gym.
3) Rest Days and Deload Weeks
More is not always better. Over training is common among people who don’t include rest days and deload weeks in their training plans. Implementing these strategies helps maintain hormonal balance, improve recovery and improve adherence to both training and any dietary strategies you may have.
Incorporating a rest day after every 2 consecutive training days and a deload week every 4-6 weeks would be my recommendation. This will greatly improve your long-term results.
4) Training To Get DOMS
DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) is the pain/stiffness you feel after training – usually the next day. I read a great article a month or so ago about how many people will train towards getting DOMS not realising that they are impairing their ability to recover or grow. A lot of people think that getting DOMS means they have put in a ‘good’ training session. In reality this is a sign you are over training the muscle and are working it beyond an sensible limit. Take the deltoid (shoulder) for example. This is a notoriously hard muscle to get DOMS in and many people will think that their workout is not sufficient because of this.
Feeling ‘slight DOMS’ is a usual effect from training however just because you may not feel DOMS does not mean you have put in a bad workout.
5) Progressive Overload
Perhaps the most important point. Progressive overload is progressively increasing the weight you are lifting in an exercise – I will add here that this should be with good form. Many people go to the gym and lift the same weight every session and wonder why they are not getting bigger or stronger when they are simply providing the same muscle stimulus over and over.
Always try to have a progressive plan. This doesn’t mean chuck extra weight on every single session, nor does it mean dropping your weight and working back up towards it. When you reach the higher end of a rep range you have set (e.g. 8-12 reps) then increase the weight slightly and work towards that higher rep range again, and so on.
Quick note- There was more I was thinking of adding such as rep ranges for strength vs hypertrophy, planning towards goals etc but this post was getting lengthy at best and people should know that stuff already. Hope this helps.
Take Home Points:
1) Ideal rep range = 30-60 reps
2) Train each body part at least once every 5 days
3) Rest days after every 2 consecutive training days is ideal
Deload week every 4-6 weeks
4) Do not train towards DOMS
5) Progressive overload = muscle gain