The Best Workout Routine for Heavy Lifting

Pick the right types of exercises for best results.
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Heavy weight training builds strength and muscle mass. Heavy is a subjective term and refers to what is heavy for you, rather than referring to a particular amount of weight lifted. Strength training can be beneficial for burning calories, aiding fat loss, boosting your metabolism and preventing injuries too, according to While there is no set best workout for heavy lifting, there are a number of factors to consider when planning your routine.

Heavy Lifting

Heavy weight training tends to be performed for fewer repetitions. Sets consist of one to six reps and are performed with between 75 and 100 percent of your single rep max -- the heaviest weight you can lift with good form for one repetition. Any higher rep sets would not be considered heavy, as you'd have to use a lower percentage of your maximum. It can take longer to recover between heavier sets than lighter ones, so you may need up to three to four minutes rest between sets.


You'll build strength quicker by focusing on multi-joint compound exercises, writes strength coach Eric Cressey in "Maximum Strength." These work multiple muscle groups at once and include exercises such as squat and deadlift variations, lunges, bench and overhead presses, pullups and rows. Single-joint isolations like biceps curls, leg extensions and lateral raises aren't particularly suited to heavy, low-rep sets as they can be stressful on your joints and you're more likely to use poor form, as all the strain is on just one muscle group, rather than being distributed across multiple muscles.


Full body workouts are best for building strength, claims Tony Gentilcore, trainer at Cressey Performance in Boston in his article "Smart from the Start." Full body workouts allow you to hit every major muscle group in each session. Think of each exercise as a movement pattern, rather than working individual muscles. The seven basic categories of exercise movements are horizontal pushes, horizontal pulls, vertical pushes, vertical pulls, quadriceps-dominant, hip-dominant and single-leg movements.


Train three times per week, with at least one days rest between each session. Perform one exercise from each movement category each workout for three to four sets of five to eight reps each. Progress a little each workout by adding an extra couple of pounds to every exercise, or adding sets and reps. If you're not sure of the correct exercise techniques, ask a qualified trainer for assistance.

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