T Nation

Newbie Qs: Soreness, Sets/Reps, Abs

Hey everyone, new here, and I was looking for some advice from veterans. I’ve recently started doing Max OT and am liking the program, but it’s brought up some questions that I’m hoping someone can help answer.

First off, 1)What are your opinions regarding soreness? Should I always feel sore/unable to use a particular muscle group after working out? (within a day or so obviously) If not, how can I assess that I’m properly working my muscles? (preferably short term workout to workout basis, I know about ensuring I’m making strength and size gains over weeks/months)

Secondly, 2) Does anybody here have any recommended rep ranges and # of sets? I don’t just mean general workout wise, I mean advice regarding specific body parts even, I’ve increased my rep range for shoulders to ease the strain on my joints for example. Not only that, but I’ve heard a mix of differing advice regarding volume, with more sets for lower rep ranges, and while Max OT has been giving me good gains, I’m wondering if more sets would help to maximize any possible gains. I know that it’s variable and LIFT HEAVY + EAT HEAVY = GAINS, but I’d just like to get some general input from more experienced builders.

Finally, 3)How often should I be working out abs? Max OT has only one day for them, and I don’t feel much even with the addition of an exercise I haven’t done before. (which normally induces soreness) Once again I’ve heard a giant mix, from every few days, to every day, etc. This also goes back to my second question, because rep/set ranges are a really iffy thing for abs, especially when doing bodyweight exercises.

Don’t think this advice means I’m looking for an easy out or will abandon Max OT, I’m not planning to, I’m definitely going to stick to it for at least a few cycles. Rather, I’m just looking for some input regarding modifications if/when I start to hit a plateau. Thanks in advance to anyone who helps me out.

(Also this stuff is probably irrelevant but I’m not a complete newbie, I got serious about weight lifting about a year ago, having done a full body workout every other day for the past few years with some decent gains once I fixed up my diet and regiment a bit. My ideal build is probably a fitness model like Greg Plitt FYI.)

[quote]NoxiousRogue wrote:
What are your opinions regarding soreness?[/quote]
It’s an occasional side effect of training, but it’s definitely not mandatory for progress. Being sore when you’re not usually sore, and vice versa, can actually be pretty informative. It’s your body’s way of saying, “Hey. We know something’s different. Not sure if like.”

No, you shouldn’t always feel sore or unable to function after training. However, you’re more likely to be sore if: You’re relatively-new to lifting, you’re performing an exercise you haven’t done before, you’re working in a rep range you haven’t used before, or if you’re using intensity-boosting techniques (such as slow negatives).

In general, if your daily nutrition and workout nutrition are in line, you shouldn’t feel totally trashed beyond the point of usefulness after training, unless your workouts are ridiculously intense or poorly designed.

A rule of thumb: If your muscles are just “sore” to move, you’re fine. If they’re physically painful to the touch (for example, simply pressing a finger into your pec), you went too far.

If you’re not sore, then you know your training is on track exactly by seeing strength and/or size gains from week to week. If I deadlift 300x5 today, but I’m not sore after, and next week I deadlift 315x5, but I’m not sore, and the week after I’m up to 320x5, wouldn’t that mean things are “working” regardless of how I feel after training?

Not to be a dick, but… all of them. You’re 17 years old. Over the course of your training life, you’ll do best to experiment with everything from sets of 1 to 100, no joke. You’ll eventually learn what your body responds best to, in terms of building size and strength.

But generally speaking, if most of your sets for most of your exercises are in the 4-10 rep range, you won’t go wrong. I do, however, recommend that younger dudes just getting started start off by building a foundation with some higher-rep bodyweight training.

With the exception of some bodyparts around smaller joints and poor leverage (especially the biceps and triceps), I haven’t seen that much of a need for “this bodypart” responds best to “that rep range.”

For everyone who tells you, for example, the hamstrings grow best with heavy weight and low reps, you can find someone who saw their best progress with lighter weight and higher reps. This is why it’s important for you to experiment and learn through experience.

You did bring up a legit point, though. If you’re noticing joint pain (whether it’s the shoulder, tricep/elbow, quad/knee, whatever), a relatively-lighter weight, more strict form, and moderate to higher reps is usually a good bet.

We’re actually talking about that in this thread:


Read the article I linked to there.

Can you be specific?

Not to bust your balls, but how long have you been on the program, how much bodyweight have you gained in that time, and what are your bests on the basic exercises?

Also, for reference, what’s your current height, weight, and general fat level (not percentage, but are you pudgy, average, kinda lean, pretty ripped, etc.?)

Once or twice a week is plenty. When I do include direct ab training, which isn’t all the time, I generally try to do a different type of movement each day. One day for flexion exercises (crunch, reverse crunch, etc.), one day for static or anti-rotation exercises (plank variations, Pallof press, etc.), maybe one day for rotation movements (full contact twist, cable woodchopper, etc.)

There are some competitive bodybuilders on this site that don’t train abs more than three or four times a week. It’s an often-debated point, but in the big picture, direct ab training is kinda low on the totem pole.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
A lot.
[/quote]
Whoa, that is one hell of a response.

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
A lot.[/quote]
Whoa, that is one hell of a response. [/quote]
Haha. Yeah, I guess so.

Today’s replies are brought to you by the letters S, P, I, K, and E. :wink:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
A lot.[/quote]
Whoa, that is one hell of a response. [/quote]
Haha. Yeah, I guess so.

Today’s replies are brought to you by the letters S, P, I, K, and E. ;)[/quote]

now that’s hardcore. you downed a Spike just to type all that? lul.

OP -

I’d say as a very general rule of thumb that as long as your level of soreness doesn’t affect your next session (however your split may be designed), and that as long as you’re progressing then that level of soreness is acceptable for you. some soreness/lactic acid buildup can be helpful to spur growth (mostly to signal a cascade of growth factors if I’m not mistaken), but as mentioned above a lack of soreness does not mean a lack of progress.

to add to the the ab training that Chris mentioned, I would also reinforce the notion that you should progress in your ab training not just for looks but for performance. even if you don’t play a sport, having stronger abs carries over to damn near every lift you can do.

except maybe wrist curls.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
Snip[/quote]
Wow, thanks for all of that, you pretty much answered any and all questions I have. In regards to specifics, I’m about 6’ even, pretty lean (around about 10%), and for weight about 155 pounds. As for gains, I’ve just noticed my weights have gone up since starting Max OT about three weeks ago, not long I know but I’ve gained much quicker than with my previous routine, partially due to the addition of several exercises I had previously neglected. Still, thank you very much, you’ve helped me alot.