“Three sets of ten are all you need to do, son!” “More is better!” “Go hard or go home!” “No pain, no gain!” We have all heard these age-old clichés, but the problem is identifying which ones are true and which ones are completely false. Today, I want to give you a primer on weight-training basics that will help ensure that your workouts are safe and effective.
Principle #1: Realize that your workouts must be tailored to your needs.
-This is where a competent and qualified personal trainer can make all of the difference in the world. It is their job to ensure that your workout reflects your unique strengths, weakness, and goals. Anything short of this and you should be looking for a new personal trainer. If you are going it alone, then I suggest that you start VERY conservatively. Ignore the magazines because they have no idea of your particular needs and/or your abilities.
-Make sure that you progress slowly and steadily. More is not necessarily better at first. Remember that initially your joints and tendons are not used to the increased pressure of resistance training, but they will get used to it as you slowly progress in weight, reps, rest time, etc.
Principle #2: You must remember the “Law of Supercompensation.”
The “Law of Supercompensation” states that when a muscle is broken down from exercise, it must be built back up through proper nutrition and rest. As we all know, when we go to the gym, we essentially break down our muscle fibers. The key to making them stronger is to ensure an adequate protein intake afterwards, coupled with a proper rest period before attempting to hit that muscle group again. In general, you want to make sure that you are not sore or unduly fatigued before attempting to workout again.
Principle #3: Large muscle groups take longer to repair than smaller muscle groups.
-A bicep will always repair faster than the quadriceps. Why? Because the quadriceps muscle group covers a much larger cross section of the body, and, thus, it requires more bodily processes, resources, energy, and nutrients to repair. In general, your larger body parts, such as quadriceps, hamstrings, and chest musculature should be given at least two days of repair before you hit them again. But, remember, this is for basic exercise. If you are an athlete or bodybuilder, it can take up to 4-5 days to adequately repair.
Principle #4: Rest periods dictate your response.
-I always get a kick out of those people I observe in the gyms who do a set of an exercise and then talk for a straight 5 minutes before their next set. The problem with this scenario is that your rest period can directly affect the physiological response your body has from your weight training session. For example, if you are waiting only 3-45 seconds between exercise sets, you are deriving more of a muscular endurance training effect, whereas if you are waiting around a minute, you are potentiating your growth hormone and testosterone levels (in both men and women) that is more conducive to muscular toning and growth. In general, you want to switch things up periodically so that your body does not get used to any given rest period. You should select between 2 minutes down to thirty seconds for optimal results.
Principle #5: Remain consistent.
-Let me clearly define what consistency means. It means 3 times per week as a minimum. This can be more if you are more advanced, but for beginners, you can even get away with two times per week for the first six weeks before advancing to three. This number is highly variable depending on your abilities, but the overriding point to be made here is that you should be exercising consistently each and every week. If you get a week of 3 in, and then turn around the next week and only do one workout, you will NEVER make the kind of progress you are looking for because your body will not be able to become stronger. There is simply not an adequate exercise stimulus to allow it to occur. You must be consistent! “Nuff said!
Well there you have it my friends! Stick around for next weeks post where I will reveal the next 5 basic principles of resistance training. Life is good!