What is the prevailing wisdom in these parts about how to know when you've worked a muscle well/properly. I have been presented with a number of different theories over the years, and I was wondering how consistent the wbb ppl are about it.
Lift for the burn: This was told to me years ago, the burn is the goal and if you could get a good deep, bright burn, you've worked your muscle well and done your job in the gym. The problem with this theory is that the best way for me to achieve a burn is to start out with some heavy weight on the first set, and then keep stepping down the weight, and increasing the reps on successive sets, until I am working with 20% of my initial weight and doing 15+ reps. This makes a muscle burn like wildfire. I don't think that it is the most beneficial to mass-building though, because of the lighter weight and higher reps that you invariably finish off with.
Lift till you can't lift no more: This was another theory that I've come accross where you set your weight, and lift it until you can't really lift it any more. But the problem here is that I've read (on this site recently) that you shouldn't lift till exhaustion. (why is that anyway?) I mean if you either have a spot or are in a position that does not jeopardize your safety, why not lift till exhaustion and totally wring out your muscle?
Lift by the books: This theory is that you just write down your reps and sets and then methodically increase the amounts and don't primarily determine the qty or weight by means of a sense or feeling. I wonder if this would work?
I've also been harboring the perception that if you are sore/stiff the next day (where you've targeted) then you've worked it alright, and done your job in the gym. If you don't feel it the next day then you've slacked off and should work harder next time. Is there any merit to this perception?
I have a feeling this is one of those questions that people wonder, but never really ask. That's how it's been for me anyway.
Thanks for any insights.