Office of Student Life

Recreational Sports

Tips for Personal Training at Home

May 5, 2020

Mitch Miceli, Personal Training Coordinator, shares with you some tips for training at home. Visit our Exercise Program Design page for more info about getting a custom exercise program tailored to your fitness goals!

Training for Muscle Growth, “Toning” or “Bulking” Muscle Mass

Most of us are looking to improve our health in some way. The most common change for people is with their body composition. In particular, many are looking to gain muscle mass or “tone up” their existing muscle mass. There are many factors that contribute to achieving this type a fitness goal such as diet, genetics and mode of exercise just to name a few. However, this article will review on one aspect, and that is intensity and duration of exercise movement for muscle hypertrophy. Muscle hypertrophy is another way of saying muscle growth or increasing muscle size. Either if you are trying to “bulk up” or “tone up” you are looking to grow muscle. Manipulating the number of sets, repetitions and intensity of a workout can be a large contributor to how you are growing your muscle.  

Muscular Endurance Training (“Tone up”)

The phrase “tone” or “toned muscle” has become a buzz word for muscle definition. An individual with lots of defined muscle probably has been participating in some form muscular endurance training. This is because in order to achieve muscle definition you must train your Type I muscle fibers, aka your endurance muscle fibers. These muscle fibers are small in cross sectional area, and resistant to fatigue. Training for endurance and thus increasing your saturation of Type I muscle fibers can help give you that muscle definition look. How to do you go about training for muscular endurance? You need to train in a repetition range of 12-18 reps per set with 3-5 sets per exercise. Intensity should be fairly high as well.  A good rule to follow is your last rep of each set should be very difficult, almost as if you were going to lifting until failure. Following this high intensity with 12-18 rep range concept is a good starting point to help “tone” your muscles. Recreational Sport members can purchase a personalized exercise program design tailored to their fitness goals. For more information about our Exercise Program Design package visit Exercise Program Design

High Intensity/ High Volume Training (“Bulk up”)

There are many methods to stimulate muscle growth. One aspect that can be incorporated into any exercise program design is high intensity/ high volume training. This involves lifting heavy weights (high intensity) over moderately high repetitions (high volume) with short rest intervals. Specifically your repetition range should be 8-12 reps with 4-5 sets per exercise. Rest periods between sets should be around 30 seconds. This method will help train your Type II muscles fibers. Type II fibers are the opposite of your Type I fibers discussed above. Type II muscle fibers are large in cross sectional area and a have low resistance to fatigue. High intensity/ high volume training will help promote the growth of Type II fibers and increase your saturation of these fibers giving you more muscle mass. A common training protocol that utilizes the high intensity/ high volume training is a technique called super setting. Supersets includes paring exercises together where you perform one exercise then immediately perform the second exercise. Supersets overload segments of the body with short rest, and therefore increase your training volume. You will also find supersets will save you time in the gym as you are making your workout more efficient by focusing on short rest rather than long rest periods in between exercises.

There are many factors to build muscle mass or define the muscles. These are just two simple concepts looking at the muscle fiber distribution, and training for a specific fiber type. For more guidance to achieve specific goals you can visit our personal training services.  We also have free online resources to aid your fitness goals on our Fitness Resources page.  


Mitch Miceli, M. ed, ACSM-EP

Personal Training Coordinator

Student Life Recreational Sports