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Exercise - Counting Sets Weekly Counts

Submitted by Teo Graca | RSS Feed | Add Comment | Bookmark Me!

For circuit-styled strength training, it's good to focus on on the number of exercise sets done weekly, which allows you to rate your performance toward a path that gets you get to where you want to be.

The following rating system is based on more than my decades of experience. For the highest level, I demonstrate it using NFL Champion Drew Brees workout, but for those that just want to increase strength and endurance, the middle rating (4) is a Great Solid Core Goal in terms of the number of sets per week, and even the Good rating (5) can maintain any strength and endurance you build.

Ratings Legend:

  1. Athletic = 120+ Sets Weekly - highly disciplined exercise/sports & physical job
  2. Super = 100-120 Sets Weekly - extra hard exercise/sports & physical job
  3. Hard = 80-99 Sets Weekly - very hard exercise/sports & physical job
  4. Solid Core/Good Goal/Great = 60-79 Sets Weekly - hard exercise/sports
  5. Good = 40-59 Sets Weekly - moderate exercise/sports
  6. OK = 20-39 Sets Weekly - light exercise/sports
  7. Poor = 19 or less Sets Weekly - little or no exercise

The Drew Brees Workout, the workout that helped turn him into a Super Bowl MVP, was developed by trainer Todd Durkin, C.S.C.S. (ref.) Todd put a program together for Drew back in 2004, which consisted of 12 core exercises worked into 4 circuits, plus a sprint exercise at the end of the circuit.

  • Set: 1 exercise with multiple repetitions (reps)
  • Round: 3 exercises with 1 set each in succession. A 20-30 second rest after the first 2 and a 1-2 minute rest after the 3rd. (4-5 minutes per round - 3 total sets).
  • Circuit: 3 rounds is 1 circuit. (12-15 minutes per circuit - 9 total sets)

The 12 exercises with 3 sets each represents 36 sets and 48 to 60 minutes when using these Rounds and Circuits. At the end of the 4 Circuits, Drew would do 3-5 sprint intervals consisting of 30 seconds of sprinting and then a 30 second of walking (about 3-5 minutes). Counting the sprint intervals as sets, that's a total of about 40 sets and approximately 1 hour for this routine.*

Although world class athletes also train in their specific areas of expertise totaling from 12 to 23 hours of training weekly (ref.), it is generally recommended that strength training programs be done just 3 days weekly with 1-2 rest days in between to allow the muscles to recover.* This "3 days weekly" is used in the rating system above to demonstrate an athletic goal of 120 sets weekly (40 sets per routine times 3 days = 120 sets weekly).

As with any exercise routine, it is important to move into it slowly so you don't hurt yourself. If you are just getting off the couch and have done no sets weekly for a long time, you might start with 1 set of each exercise with no weight in the first week just to focus on technique. It's more of a stretch when you start. After adding a set each week until week 3 when you get to 3 sets of each exercise weekly, you might consider adding some weight.

Yoga uses no weight except that of your own body and is very effective. Although I focus on strength training for some exercises for which I can use dumbbells, most of what I do now is basic stretches and Yoga.

Note that any exercise is good and takes only a small amount of time to do each week. Counting your sets weekly is a good motivating factor. It allows you to actually see your progress. The average time for a set takes just 90 seconds, most of which is rest time before the next set in circuit-style training program. How many 90 second time intervals (sets) can you devote to your health each week?

Drew's 12 Core Exercises (with links to details):

  1. Kettlebell Burpee with Shrug
  2. Superband Pulldown
  3. Kettlebell Half Getups
  4. Kettlebell Straight-Leg Deadlift
  5. Superband Squat and Single-Arm Row and Rotation
  6. Kettlebell Bench Press
  7. Overhead Superband Lateral Walk
  8. Superband Band Splitter
  9. Superband Split Squat Anti-Rotation
  10. Superband Overhead Triceps Extension
  11. Superband Hammer Curl
  12. Kettlebell Pushup

You can use the above rating system with the Harris Benedict Equation to calculate your total daily calorie needs and expenditures. (ref.) The top 3 ratings would qualify as "very hard exercise" in the calculator "ref." link.

*I personally tested the idea of pushing my strength works outs over an hour and working out without rest days over a period of 3 months back in 2004 and noticed a definite reduction in strength. In strength training, allowing muscles worked to recover will build strength and endurance. In 2012, I also tested the idea of working out every day focusing on various muscles, but allowing the muscles worked at least 4 days to recover. This worked well and I continued to build strength and endurance. With this approach, I found that I could invest less time per day and workout 5-7 days instead of 3 weekly to get the same results.

Organize your workouts to fit your needs, then just do it! If you would like to review one of the tools I put together for this and some of the exercises I use, I would be glad to share one of the tools I built for this.

Click for Details --> muscles versus exercises <--

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