The following are acute program variables that you can modify or manipulate in your strength training program:
– number of sets
– number of reps per set
– choice of exercises
– choice of mode of exercise
– order of exercises
– intensity of resistance levels
– timing between sets (rest periods)
– movement speed
** Having said the above, in the beginning, the amount of sets or volume recommended above may vary for your particular needs. If you have never done a strength workout before or have been absent from this for many years, you may want to begin with just one to two sets of the above exercises. This will help to avoid excessive post onset soreness or potential injury, and gradually “acclimate” your body to strength training.
These exercises and motions are in essence motor skills that your body learns that you then apply resistance to. In fact, it’s very beneficial to briefly practice these or other motions that you will employ in the future with no resistance first, in order to learn them. Then, apply the appropriate resistance level that works for you. If you have over one to two years of strength training background or are experienced with exercise/athletics, you may want to bump up the amount of sets, after the first or second week, to as many as five or six for the pushing, pulling and comprehensive lower body exercises. However, it’s vital to be mindful that quantity is in no way a substitute for quality. You must determine what is best for you with SAFETY and quality as your paramount concern.
- Strength training is to be done a minimum of three days per week on opposite days. Any given muscle group that is worked must have 48 hours of rest and recovery.
- If you are just beginning and have never lifted weights before, begin with one to two sets of every exercise above and progress to two to three sets by the second or third week.
- As you move along in your strength training progression, you can employ "split" routines for variation in your training. For example do "pulling motions" on one day, lower body the next day and "pushing" motions the next. With this approach, keep in mind the first tip above in terms of rest and recovery.
- Resistance (weight) levels used must be comfortable, yet challenging. All reps per a given set must be able to be performed with proper form.
- It's important not to "throw away" reps of a given set as to rush through. Focus on controlled, quality movements throughout each repetition particularly on the descending or return phase of each motion in the exercise. Do not let momentum generated by uncontrolled movement take over and perform the work for you.
- Strength training is done FIRST (following the warm-up) on days when you do both strength and cardio training. This will optimize the hormonal response that maximizes your body's ability to build and develop muscle. Your "tank" is full of fuel at the top of the workout as well. Remember, you are building metabolic machinery that is working for you 24/7. You want every advantage possible to enhance your weight loss efforts. Other options include a strength workout in the morning with your cardio or sport activity in the afternoon/early evening. If you do cardio in the morning and wish to strength train in the afternoon/early evening, allow a five to six hour separation of time to maximize the muscle building/developing hormonal response from your weight workout.
- We use the terms "pushing" and "pulling" to simplify the approach. Pushing motions include chest press with various modes at various inclines. Pulling motions include lat pull downs and lat rows with various modes in various planes of motion. We squat and lunge during many activities of daily living. You literally push, pull or defy gravity when you perform these exercises. We introduce some rotational motions as well with the wood chops.
- A 45 to 60 second rest period should be incorporated between all sets.
- Maintain normal breathing throughout each exercise. Exhale on the initial (pushing, pulling, squatting, or pressing ) motion of the exercise and inhale on the return phase. Never hold your breath during any part of an exercise.
- Activate your core stabilization mechanism (CSM) for all strength exercises. Do this by simply drawing your belly button in towards your spine while maintaining normal breathing. This enhances the foundation for any exercise achieving core benefit as well. In addition, employ optimum postural alignment and stabilization techniques for all exercises.
- These are "multi-joint" motions. They utilize large and numerous muscle groups. The idea is to access and stimulate the maximum amount of muscle per given workout. The more muscle accessed and stimulated, the more muscle developed and built, hence, the more fat you burn 24/7. The metabolic benefits/advantages are undisputable for weight and fat loss.
For example, let's compare the effect of a seated bicep curl and a lat row. The bicep curl basically works the biceps, other elbow flexors and a little core work. (That is, if you are utilizing optimum posture in the seated position) A lat row will comprehensively access the muscles of the back, posterior shoulder, major core musculature and biceps/elbow flexors. Result: More pay off, more work done and much more muscle accessed and stimulated in just this one exercise. The volume of work completed per workout in terms of total muscle stimulation is huge. It really adds up over the course of the workout and over the course of your entire life of strength training. It's not to say don't do the single joint work (bicep curls, specific tricep work), it's just that your main focus again is working the maximum quantity of muscle per given workout. Make the best of every single rep of every single exercise. A great version of a bicep curl, for instance, would be performing the exercise while standing on one leg using dumbbells. The same goes for a tricep pressdown from a high pulley. This gives you the arm work in addition to the balance, alignment and core work.
- This workout can be done with machines, free weights, medicine balls, stability balls, tubing or various combinations utilizing all of these modes. For example, you could perform a pushing motion (chest press) on a bench, the ball, a machine or standing with tubing. The same goes for any pulling or squatting motion. This validates every venue and availability of equipment regardless of location, space allotment, time allotment and economics. Variation is encouraged. You will continue to progress and grow in your life long endeavor of strength training long after the initial six weeks. This is only the beginning. You will continue to learn new ways to challenge yourself. It's exciting.
Whether you have access to the $3000 single station commercial units, the $10-$20 piece of tubing, the fancy chrome dumbbells, the ugly grey hex dumbbells, barbells, water bottles or a multi-station home unit " this program works for EVERYBODY. It provides a "no excuse" environment. Being that I do not have pictured illustrations (and I can't be there on site to personally train you), I highly recommend asking a facility manager or qualified trainer on site in any public fitness venue, to show you proper form and safety measures for all equipment. (Ask the facility manager to recommend the best trainer in his facility.)
- Be sure to include stretching after each workout. This will lower stress hormones as well as fortify and enhance the benefits from both weight training and cardio work.
- Take one day off from exercise per week for rest and recovery.
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