By Dr Alison Kamffer
For the last few weeks I have been talking about fitness and how to improve your overall fitness levels. Ideally fitness training involves all 4 kinds of exercise; cardio, anaerobic, strength and core.
Strength Training: Rounding out your exercise program with a strength training routine will ensure that you're really optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program. You need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles, with the weight being heavy enough that this can be done in fewer than 12 repetitions, yet light enough to do a minimum of four repetitions. It is also important NOT to exercise the same muscle groups every day as they need at least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild. Thus my advice to do a different form each day.
Steve from Nerdfitness says:
“If you’re looking to start building muscle, these are the things you need to do:
-Lift heavy things
-Eat a diet based on your goals
-Each of your weight training routines should have one leg exercise, push exercise, pull exercise, and a core exercise:
Leg Exercises – Squats, Deadlifts, or Lunges
Push Exercises – Bench Press, Overhead Press, or Dips
Pull Exercises – Inverted Rows, Pull Ups, or Chin Ups
Core Exercises – Reverse Crunches, Hanging Knee Raises, or Planks.
Focus each week on adding more weight to each exercise. For example, if you did 3 sets of 5 squats of x pounds this week, try for 3 sets of 5 squats of x+5 pounds next week.
If you’re just interested in getting stronger, you can do 3-5 sets of 5 reps, with a focus on lifting heavier and heavier each week. If you’re looking to add more size along with strength, mix up your rep ranges. Sets of 5 reps will build compact explosive strength, while sets of 6-12 reps will build more bulk but less concentrated strength.
Warm-up before exercising – don’t walk into a gym, slap 45 pound plates on the bar, and then start your routine! Get your heart rate up and muscles warm first by doing a dynamic warm-up of jumping jacks, lunges, bodyweight squats, hip raises, push ups, leg swings, jumps, etc. After that, always start with doing a set or two of lifting JUST THE BAR with no weights. Only then should you start adding weight for some warm-up sets before moving into your real sets.
Lift quickly – no, I don’t mean throw the weight around. I want you to think “explosion” when doing your squats, bench presses, deadlifts, etc. If you’re doing squats, picture yourself exploding back up from the bottom point; on your bench presses imagine you’re pushing the weight hard enough to send it through the ceiling. Stay in control, but lift that weight quickly.
Have perfect form – if you’re doing a bodyweight squat incorrectly, you probably won’t cause any problems. However, if you do a squat incorrectly with 405 pounds on your shoulders, you could do some serious damage. If you’re just starting out, leave your ego at the door: start with a VERY light weight and make sure you are doing the exercise properly. There is NO SHAME in starting with just the bar. You can always add more weight next week if this week is too easy.
Stimulate, don’t annihilate – I try to always have one more rep left when I finish a set. Some trainers will teach you to work your muscles to annihilation, but I think that’s just asking for an injury, poor form, and beyond-sore muscles. Your muscles get built while resting, not in the gym, so don’t think that you need to destroy them completely each day you step in the gym – it’s not worth it!
Change up the time between sets – if you’re doing 3 sets of 5 reps of a really heavy weight, it’s okay to wait 3-5 minutes between sets – you’re focusing on pure strength here. If you’re doing sets up in the 8-12 range, try to keep the time between sets around a minute or so. This will affect your muscles in different ways. Just be consistent between sets and when doing the same workout between weeks to track your progress.
Don’t overdo it – More does not mean better in weight lifting. You don’t need to spend two hours in the gym, you don’t need to do 15 different kinds of chest exercises. Your routines should last no longer than 45 minutes. It is only necessary to do three or four sets (after warm up sets) for each exercise, and it’s enough to stimulate muscle growth. Three routines a week is plenty as I have said – you shouldn’t lift every day, as you need to give your muscles time to recover. Less is more – just make your routines really intense and exhausting.
Write down everything – Keep a training journal, and write down exactly how many sets and reps you did for every exercise. That way, you can compare how you did this time with how you did last time. You’ll know how much more you need to lift this week to make sure you’re stronger than last week.”
Thanks to Steve @nerd fitness
Written by SureSlim's Dr Ali