Decades ago, a bodybuilder named Vincent Gironda promoted a weight-training routine that "taught" the lifter's body to be able to lift heavier and heavier weights. The increase in weight is accompanied with a complementary decrease in the number of repetitions, and is designed to achieve fast results in the form of muscle building and shaping. Oh, and the beauty of it is -- this workout routine is supposed to be short. For building muscle, a few brief, hard workouts throughout the week are key.
Types of Muscle Fibers
When lifting weights, you train two types of muscle fibers. These are the "slow twitch," or type I fibers, and "fast twitch," or type II fibers. Slow twitch muscle fibers are efficient at converting oxygen into energy, and can sustain contractions over a long period of time. These are the endurance muscles. Fast twitch muscle fibers use anaerobic metabolic processes, meaning that they create energy in the absence of oxygen. These muscles give quick bursts of strength or speed. Using heavier weights for fewer reps trains the fast twitch muscles, while using lighter weights with more reps trains the slow twitch muscles.
The 10-8-6-15 Routine
The 10-8-6 routine (or 10-8-6-15 routine) operates on the premise that you start with a weight you can lift 10 times, but no more. Once you've completed the first set with 10 reps, you increase the weight and do eight reps for your second set. The third set should be your heaviest set of weights, and you should be able to perform six and only six reps at that weight. After that set, you get to use lighter weights for the last set, but increase the number of reps to 15.
Calculating Your Lift Weight
The key to getting the most out of this workout is knowing just how heavy of a weight you can lift for six repetitions, which will be your third set. The weight you can lift for six reps is considered your max load, or 100 percent. You should perform your first set of 10 reps using 50 percent of your max load, your second set (eight reps) using 75 percent, your third set using 100 percent, and on your last set (of 15 reps) should use 35 percent of your max.
Getting Past the Peak
The 10-8-6 routine is motivating because it makes you feel as if you are getting stronger, and therefore able to lift heavier weights. After doing your first set, and thinking, "Wow, that was heavy, I can't lift any more than that," you do another set, with heavier weights, and realize that you can, in fact, lift more than that. Keep track of how much weight you are using for each set, and every couple of weeks, add a few pounds.
Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.