270420 Economy and Training Effort, they are compatible? Part 2 of 3

270420 Economy and Training Effort, they are compatible

By Danny M. O’Dell, M.A. CSCS*D

Are you being efficient in your training or are you just training for the sake of training? Sometimes its nice to go the gym and do a few things just to put the check on the calendar saying you exercised this day, but if its progress you’re looking for then there are better ways to get it done.


In the preceding paragraph, the question was raised about the areas of your body that were not up to par according to YOUR standards. Notice I did not say the ‘rag mag’ standards. Those are absurd and unhealthy. I mean your standards. Now is the time to begin picking out specific exercises that will elicit these positive changes.

For example, if your shoulders are on the small side of the scale then incorporate barbell military presses (with good form) into your exercise program, add weight when appropriate and supplement with deltoid front, side and rear raises. If you need a better balance front to rear on the legs then do Romanian deadlift’s, stiff legged dead lifts and Good mornings for the hamstrings. Yeah I hear all of the bitching and moaning about these being hard on the lower back and how they may do this or that somewhere sometime. I am here to tell you this: If done correctly they are excellent exercises to increase both the strength and size of the hamstrings and lower back.

If you are looking to increase your size, then you have to increase your strength. This seems to be a foreign concept to some people but the fact remains that a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle in most cases.

Hint: Lift within your capabilities above the 80% 1RM levels for strength improvements.

Exercise order

Another mistake many make is beginning with the mirror exercises such as the nearly useless bicep curl. Unless you are a grappler or a football lineman then the curls are just a waste of time. Concentrate on the larger groups of, and I almost hate to say the word, as it is so overused today, ‘functional’ muscles (All muscles are functional). I mean the muscles that actually help develop the body in a symmetrical fashion and positively contribute in a meaningful way to improved appearance or sport performance. Large groups include the shoulders, chest, upper and lower back, the abdominal region, and the legs, front and rear, including the calves.

Pick a major movement for each of these muscle groups then add in an accessory exercise for four to five sets of eight to twelve repetitions and make no doubt about it you are set to get strong.

Hint: Do the large muscles first then the smaller ones to avoid fatigue and lack of energy to continue with the larger groups.

Rest periods

Your goal will determine the amount of rest taken between each exercise set. For instance if you are working on gaining maximum strength, in the 75-90% intensity range then the rest periods will be from two to five minutes in duration. The work to rest ratio is figured this way: If you work out for ‘X’ amount of time then your rest period will be ‘X’ amount of time depending on the intensity level. These are determined by the percentage of the 1 RM. The higher on the percentage scale the longer will be the rest period. 

Percentage of power of the 1RM Work to rest ratio
2-5 minutes
2-5 minutes
30-75% 1RM1:3-1:4
30 seconds-1 ½ minutes
20-35% 1RM1:1-1:3
Under 30 seconds