Weight Training Routines
What if you’re just beginning your involvement with weight training routines?
You have embarked on a path to fitness that stands out among others. Legend has it that one of the earliest weight trainers was the ancient Greek wrestler, Milo of Croton, who began his regimen by carrying a newborn calf on his shoulders from one place to another. He performed this feat every day until the calf was fully grown!
Nobody goes around carrying cows these days, but you can utilize equipment specifically designed to increasingly challenge your muscles through the force of gravity.
You are probably most familiar with dumbbells, weighted bars, and stacked weights. Lots of people perform weight training routines in bodybuilding and strongman competitions, but it stands on its own as an athletic training regimen.
Weight Training Routines - The Benefits
Your purpose as a weight trainer is not simply to maximize your muscle size and reduce total body fat, which is what competitive bodybuilders do. You will also be increasing your strength and challenging your body to convert sugars into energy, also known as anaerobic exercise.
The most obvious benefits are muscles that grow in size and strength. But you’ll also strengthen your tendons and ligaments, plus you’ll see an improvement in your tone and flexibility. Staying fit through weight training or just about any kind of exercise will preserve your bone density as you get older.
Weight Training Routines - Strategy
The best strategy is to develop routines for six specific areas of your body: your chest, the back, your abdominals, arms and shoulders, legs, and buttocks. Choose exercises for each of these muscle groups, and work on only one of them each day that you exercise. It’s best to start with the largest muscle groups first. Many people prefer to make a chart that shows what exercise you’re doing, how much weight you’re using, and how many reps you’re doing. The most formidable weight training goes beyond the standard eight reps, up to twelve or sixteen reps.
As you begin, you must remind yourself over and over that form is more important than weight lifted. To challenge and develop your muscles, lift slowly and carefully maintain form as closely as possible. Proper form is necessary to prevent injury and to properly challenge your muscles. Begin with a lower weight at first and pay attention to form; as you progress, you will be able to add weight to your routine.
Weight Training Routines - Extra Tips
Always keep water with you while you exercise. Hydration is important because increased perspiration during exercise has been associated with sudden drops in blood volume. That means you’ll be more prone to dizziness as well as muscle cramps or spasms. This type of dehydration can also place a strain on your heart.
Drink a bottle of water before you exercise water and keep a quart (liter) on hand while you work out. You don’t need to worry about using a sports drink to replace electrolytes unless you are exercising for several hours.
- You can begin on your first day with leg exercise, and any of these are extremely effective: squats, leg press, leg curls, standing calf raise.
- Chest exercises include the incline dumbbell press, flat bench dumbbell press, basic bench press.
- For arms and shoulders, choose from bicep curls, cable pushdowns (pressdowns), tricep extension, barbell curls, tricep kickback, and military press, lat machine pulldowns.
- Abdominals benefit from a variety of crunches; besides basic crunches, you can do bent-knee sit-ups, crunches with the rowing machine, or a reverse crunch. You can also try oblique twists and dumbbell side bends.
- Back exercises are often neglected because we don’t see our backs, but you can do rowing with one-arm dumbbells at a time, bent-over barbell rows, or pulldowns.
- Buttocks are improved with leg extension, leg press, pelvic lifts, and bent-leg kickbacks.
Smart trainers allow their muscles to rest between workout sessions.
Whether you rotate through a six-day schedule and rest on day seven, or exercise every other day, you should never do the same muscle group on two consecutive days.
Weight Training Routines - Concepts to Remember
It’s important to remember the four guiding principles of weight training—specificity, overload, rest, and adaptation. Specificity occurs when you target the joint and its adjacent muscles. You evaluate your individual needs and choose routines that meet them.
Overload means that you have to put that extra load on your muscles. Whatever they have been able to carry, pull, or push, you have to make them surpass that. With weight training, this means adding weight to the workout.
The last two principles go hand in hand. Rest reminds us how important it is, as mentioned above, to give each muscle group a break from one workout to the next. And adaptation occurs during this rest period. Just like good old Milo of Croton found himself able to carry that calf every day, even as it was growing, your muscles remember the strain you put on them and adjust so that they can meet that strain in your next workout session. When you will, of course, challenge them again!
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