Weight Training 101
Weight Training 101
If you're setting up your own program, you'll need to know some basic strength training principles. These principles will teach you how to make sure you're using enough weight, determine your sets and reps and insure you're always progressing in your workouts.
Overload: If you want to get stronger, you need to use more resistance than your muscles are used to. This is important because the more you do, the more your body is capable of doing, so you should increase your workload to avoid adaptation. In plain language, this means you should be lifting enough weight that you can ONLY complete the desired number of reps. You should be able to finish your last rep with difficulty but also with good form.
Progression. In order to avoid plateaus (or adaptation), you need to increase your intensity. With strength training, you can do this by increasing the amount of weight lifted, increasing the sets/reps, increasing or changing the exercises you're doing and/or change the rest intervals between sets. You can also change the order of your exercises. This means increasing your intensity every week.
Specificity. This principle states that the way your body adapts to exercise depends on the type of exercise you're doing. That means, if you want to increase your strength, your program should be designed around that goal. To gain strength and mass, you want to train with heavier weights closer to your 1 RM (1 rep max). If you want to build endurance and strength, you'll want to stick with lighter weights and a rep range of 8-12.
Rest and Recovery. Rest days are just as important as workout days. It is during these rest periods that your muscles grow and change, so make sure you're not working the same muscle groups 2 days in a row.
Before you get started on setting up your routine, keep a few key points in mind:
Always warm up before you start lifting weights. This helps get your muscles warm and prevent injury. You can warm up with light cardio or by doing a light set of each exercise before going to heavier weights.
Lift and lower your weights slowly. Don't use momentum to lift the weight. If you have to swing to get the weight up, chances are you're using too much weight.
Breathe. Don't hold your breath and make sure you're using full range of motion throughout the movement.
Stand up straight! If your mother could see you now, she'd probably slap a book on your head. Pay attention to your posture and keep everything straight. Engage your abs in every movement you're doing to keep your balance and protect your spine.