Weight Training Guidelines

Is what you are currently doing, working for you? Are you getting the results that you want? Are you living in the gym just to stay the same?

How about the other members of the gym? Take a look around at the other members that are there all of the time. Do they do the same routine each time? Do you notice any changes in them? Do they look leaner or just the same?

If everyone is constantly doing the same exercises, for the same amount of weights, and the same amount of reps, then they are just going through the motions, and getting nowhere

STIMULATE MUSCLE FIBERS TO GROW

There is so much more to weight training than just picking up a weight and setting it down.

If you want muscles, you have to stimulate them to grow. Your muscles need a challenge to change. You need to put them under more stress than they are already used to, so that they will grow and adapt to the new stresses they have been put under.

If you are always doing the same exercises, with the same weights, for the same repetitions, you will stay exactly the same. Why wouldn’t you? You are doing everything the same, so the result is no change. You are stagnant!

Change Intensity Variables

We can stimulate muscle growth by changing the training “intensity.” The intensities that we are going to include in our new Weight Training Programs are:

Increase Your Weights

Increase Your Repetitions (to a certain point)

Increase Your Time Under Tension

Change Your Rest Time in Between Exercises

Change Your Exercise Routine


1. Increase Your Weights
If you want more lean muscle mass, you need to overload your muscles with more weight than they are used to. Those muscles, will then recruit more muscle fibers (to the rescue) to help them lift the heavier weight.

Do not always pick up the light, little weights. Go for a heavier weight, especially you women. Most women are afraid to pick up the bigger weights. Remember if you start with too light of a weight, you are just going through the motions. Don’t waste your time! Build some muscles; raise your metabolism!

You will be surprised how one day, you can barely lift a certain weight, but you dig in (add stress to recruit more muscle fibers) and you get it. Then the next session, when you lift that same weight, it will be a little easier. The muscle fibers were recruited from the prior session to help you lift that heavier weight, and now you can lift it much easier. The muscle fibers have shown up to the party, per se.

If you can lift a weight easily, for so many reps (to be discussed) then raise the weight.

Example: Lets say you always do 12 lb. dumbbell curls for 15 repetitions, easily. That weight is way too light for you. So, now you need to pick up the 15 lb. dumbbells and try for 12 repetitions. If you can easily curl that weight for 12 reps, do more reps, but the next time, you need to raise that weight. Then, on the next session, curl 20 lb. dumbbells and shoot for 10 reps. This goes on and on.

2. Increase Your Repetitions
Now, on your next session you can either, add more weight to recruit more muscle fibers, or you can use that same weight, but try to lift it for at least one more repetition. You never want to be doing the same as your prior session. You always want to be adding a little extra stress to your muscles, to keep recruiting more and more muscle fibers, each and every workout session.

When you think that you possibly cannot get another rep, dig in and get that one more. That is the one that is going to recruit more muscle fibers and make you stronger.

3. Change Your Time Under Tension
To Change your Time Under Tension, means to put your muscles under stress (tension) for a longer period of time. This Time Under Tension is the length of time it takes you to complete one full repetition.

The longer your muscles are contracted, and under tension, the more muscle fibers they will recruit to help them complete that repetition.

When you lift a weight with speed, you are using momentum to help you complete that exercise. But the slower you raise and lower a weight, the less momentum you are using. You are having to dig in, to move the weight. So, that little extra that you are using to help you complete that repetition, is what is recruiting more muscle fibers, and making you stronger.

When you first start weight training, try to keep your Time Under Tension for a 3 count (or 3 speed). For example:

Start with lifting the weight up (positive contraction), on a 1 count.

Pausing at the top of the contraction, for a 1 count.

Then lowering (negative contraction) for a 1 count.

As you get stronger, you can try to slow your speed by another 1 count.

For example:

That would be up 1ct, pause 1ct, down 2ct.

Over time, you can gradually slow your speed and take the momentum out of the lifting and lowering phases of the exercise. The faster you lift and lower a weight, the easier it is. Then, of course, the slower you lift and lower the weight, the harder it is. If something is easy, then you are not stimulating your muscle to adapt to a new tension or stress, and consequently, change and muscle growth will not occur. Don’t waste your time. Recruit some muscle fibers!

Working The Negative

Working the negative means slowing down the lowering (eccentric) phase of an exercise. You are again, taking the momentum (and gravity) out of the exercise. Slowly lowering the weight down, poses a bigger challenge to the muscle, resulting in recruiting and building more muscle fibers, faster.

For example, if you can not lift the weight for one more rep, have someone assist you in lifting the weight, so that you can slooooowly lower the weight, again. Doing this over and over helps recruit more muscle fibers, so maybe next time, you can lift that weight, without anyone’s help.

Also, another good example of when “working the negative” would be beneficial is on the pull-up bar.

Most women can’t do many pull-ups, so how are they going to get better at that exercise, if they can’t even do them at all?

You guessed it….by doing the lowering (negative) phase of the pull-up; they will recruit more muscle fibers. (Remember, under stress, the muscle fibers recruit and come to the rescue. If the muscle fibers recruit, the muscle builds and gets stronger.)

To do this negative on the pull-up bar, find something to stand on to get up there and hold the bar, or just jump up and hold it. Now slooooowly, lower yourself. Then jump up again, and lower yourself again. Over time, you will be able to pull yourself up on the “positive” phase of the exercise, because you recruited muscle fibers, and they adapted to the new stress they were under.

And it’s pretty exciting when you can do a certain exercise that you couldn’t do before! Your hard work is paying off.

4. Change Your Rest Time In Between Exercises
When you change the amount of rest time in between your exercises, it sort of keeps the muscle guessing. (As someone said to me once, “I don’t think that my muscles are that smart!”) But they really are; they will adapt to any variable if it’s always constant, and never changes.

For example, start off with 1-minute rest periods in between each exercise. Then, sometimes after performing an exercise, jump right into the next exercise without resting for 1 minute. This is called a Superset.

You always want to keep your muscles guessing!

5. Change Your Exercise Routine
You do not want to perform the same exact exercise routine each and every time that you train. Remember, change is good, especially when it comes to stimulating your muscles to grow.

There’s no exact number of how many times you should do those same exercises, as long as each time that you do them, you are either, using a heavier weight, using the same weight but getting more reps, slowing down your time under tension, doing a super-set (no rest in between two exercises), etc., etc. You always want change – more intensity!

With the New Training Programs for Upper & Lower Body, lets do each program four times, before changing to the next Training Program.

Example:

Do Upper Training Program A (1), and chart all your weights & reps.
Then, the next time, do that same Upper Program A (2), trying to beat your prior weights or reps. etc. In doing this, you will always be requiring your body to adapt to new stresses and recruiting more muscle fibers.

HOW MANY DAYS TO TRAIN

Give each body part at least 2 – 3 days rest before training that body part again. So, if you plan on training 3 times a week, an example would be:

Monday Lower Body & Abs
Wednesday Upper Body
Friday Lower Body & Abs
Then Monday Upper Body
Wednesday Lower Body & Abs
Friday Upper Body

You could even choose Monday, Tuesday & Thursday, etc. Whichever days you want, just as long as each body part has 2 – 3 days rest.

Or Training 2 times per week:

Monday Lower Body & Abs
Friday Upper Body
Then Monday Lower Body & Abs
Friday Upper Body

WHICH BODY PARTS TO TRAIN?

You always want to train your bigger muscle groups first, such as legs, back, and chest. Then, train the smaller muscle groups next, such as calves, abs, shoulders, triceps, and biceps. This is because if you train your smaller muscles, first, you will fatigue them. Then, you won’t be able to train the larger muscles very well, because, the support, smaller muscles, are already fatigued.

FREE WEIGHTS OR MACHINES

Setting up a home gym with free weights and maybe even some machines, makes working out that much more convenient in all of our busy lifestyles. With a home gym, you can just get up out of bed and get your workout taken care of first thing in the morning. And if you have children, you don’t have to worry about finding someone to watch them while you race to the gym. You can work out anytime that is convenient for you.

Also, if you want to workout at home, free weights are cheaper and take up less space. Plus, you can train your entire body with free weights, but you will have to learn what types of exercises to perform. Machines are more expensive and take up more space, but are easier to use, especially for a beginner.

Free weights make your body use your primary muscles and your secondary muscles to stabilize the weight, which makes the secondary muscles stronger, as well. Whereas, machines balance the weight for you, so you are only using your primary muscles.

And with free weights, each body part works independently to move the weight. But with machines, the stronger body part can carry the load, which then, the weaker body part never catches up.

With free weights, you might need someone to spot, or assist you, so you won’t injure yourself when the weight gets too heavy at the end of your set. But machines are safer and easier to use.

In my home and training studio, I use both free weights and machines. They compliment each other in helping obtain the results I am after.

HOW TO CHOOSE WEIGHT, SETS, REPS?

The first day that you start training is really your “Discovery Day.” You need to figure out how much weight to use, how many reps to begin with, and how many sets to perform on each exercise. We are going to make it very easy.

How Many Reps?
On that very first day, lets start with 15 reps.

How Much Weight?
Use enough weight that is comfortable for 15 reps, so that last rep is hard to perform.

On that very first day try to choose a heavy enough weight that you think you can only do for 15 reps. If you can get that weight more than 15 reps, that weight is too light for you! Put it down and pick up a heavier weight. Try this with each exercise, so that you figure out your starting weight loads.

When To Increase Weights?
Once you are able to do more than 15 reps, increase the weight.

Then, the next time you train, and that chosen weight gets too light, more than 15 reps, put it down and pick up a heavier weight to perform for 12 reps. NEVER stop at a number. If you are shooting for 12 reps, but you can get more than 12 reps, dig in and get them. Remember if you do the same exact thing than the time before, you are going to be exactly the same. Recruit some muscle fibers, dig in, get stronger!

Then, of course, when that load is too easy, put it down, raise the weight, and now shoot for 10 reps. Then, shoot for 8 reps, and 6 reps.

How Many Sets?

On the Training Programs, we are going to perform 2 Sets, per exercise. I personally, think that 3 sets are too much. Remember, more is not, necessarily better.

My reasoning for 2 sets is to give everything you’ve got to the very 1st set.
Then, if you possibly have anything left, you will give it to your 2nd set.
I believe if you have more energy to do a 3rd set, you didn’t give everything you’ve got to the first 2 sets.
Plus, I believe to do a 3rd set would be overtraining, resulting in muscle wasting, not muscle building.


Doing Too Many Sets/Reps

If someone is doing too many sets or reps, they are tearing down the muscle so much, that even on their rest days, they will not rebuild back up to the point where they began.

For example, picture a ladder, and say you are starting at the top of the ladder. You want to stimulate and tear down that muscle, say, a few rungs down the ladder. So, on your rest days, you will easily and gradually rebuild up the ladder, and past the point that you started.

If you are fatiguing your muscles by doing numerous sets or repetitions, you are not only wasting your time, but you are also tearing the muscle down, without any stimulation. You are actually, tearing down the muscle so much, that when your body tries to rebuild itself, it has a hard time even building back up to where it started.

MAKE MIND/MUSCLE CONNECTION

When you are training with weights, focus on what you are doing. Clear your brain! Think of nothing else, but what you are doing. Concentrate! Make your “mind” think of the body part that you are working. Make your brain send the signal to that particular muscle. You really do want to concentrate and focus on the “mind/muscle connection.

CARDIO/ WHEN, WHAT KIND, HOW MUCH?

Cardio After Weight Training
I, personally, do not think cardio should be performed before weight training. If cardio is performed prior to weight training, it will use up your energy (strength) that needs to be saved to lift the weights.

And remember, the more strength you have, the more weight you can lift. The more weight you can lift, the more muscles you can build. And the more muscles you can build, the higher metabolism you will have, which results in more calories you will burn.

Our goal is to perform cardio training after weight training.

What Kind of Cardio?
Interval Cardio Training is bursts of short, explosive energy. Such training is alternated between high and low intervals for short periods of time. This quick explosive training, like sprinting, recruits more muscle fibers to help your muscles adapt to the stresses that they are under, which in turn, helps them grow.

This type of cardio training is different than endurance, long distance training, that wastes your lean muscle mass for energy.

Cardio for How Long?
For about 10 minutes only, the goal is to perform high & low intervals, with a 1:3 ratio. For example, 20 seconds at a high intensity, then 1 minute at a lower intensity. This can be done outside while sprinting (your neighbors will think you’re crazy, like mine probably do), bicycling, or while on the stairmaster, treadmill, etc.

 

STRETCHING

It’s best to stretch before, and especially, after weight training.

Before training,
it’s best to stretch (no bouncing), to get blood flowing to warm up your cold muscles and to extend your range of motion. And those who are not very flexible need to stretch more than others, because tight muscles are more prone to injuries, especially if they try to jump right into a workout.

Now, during your workout, you are actually shortening the muscles while performing contractions, so it’s very important to stretch after weight training, to re-lengthen the muscles and to reduce soreness.

POST-TRAINING RECOVERY

Lactic Acid is the by-product in the muscles, from an anaerobic (without oxygen) activity. When lactic acid accumulates in the muscles, it causes muscular pain, fatigue, and retards contraction.

There are many methods to help the body recover at a faster rate. Here are a few:

Contrast Showers
Immediately after a strenuous workout, take contrast showers to help recover.

Contrast showers are bursts of very hot, then very cold water, for as hot and cold as you can stand it. Change the water temperature about every two minutes. Keep doing this about four times.

What this does is help your muscles dilate and constrict, to improve circulation to your muscles, which helps you recover much quicker.

Feed The Muscles
Our whole goal with weight training is to gain lean muscle mass, then to eat properly to keep that lean muscle mass. Why do all the work weight training, and not the easy part by nourishing your body with the proper nutrition, to keep those muscles?

Your muscles need protein to build or those muscles will waste away. Like a tree needs water to grow, a muscle needs protein to grow.

Also, make sure you eat enough calories, including protein, complex carbs, and good fats. If you don’t eat enough, your body will use the protein that you are supplying, for energy, instead of using it to repair and rebuild your muscles.

Glutamine
Don’t forget the importance of glutamine. Remember, glutamine is a supplement that helps your body recover and rebuild faster. It blocks that stress hormone, cortisol, which is released when your body is under any stress, actually. But right now, we are talking about the stress from weight training. Cortisol, breaks down your muscles. We want to block cortisol, to give the body more time to recover and rebuild.

Glutamine is a great muscle-sparing supplement! I can’t stress that enough!

Rest
One of the best ways to recover and rebuild your muscles is to rest!

Many people think that more is better when it comes to exercise. But this is absolutely not true. Remember, when we are working out, we are tearing down the muscle tissues, and building on our rest days.

If you are exercising every day, your body is always in tear down mode. You are never giving your body a chance to rest, recover, and rebuild. You are actually doing more harm than good.

Give each body part at least 2 – 3 days rest in between training that body part again. The same goes for abdominals.

Many people think that they should do abdominal crunches each and every day. Abs are just like any other body part. If you are doing abs every day, you are tearing down abs, every day. When are they building? Your abs need at least 2 days rest, also.

TRIVIA QUESTION

Here\'s a question for you:

Say it’s Friday and a guy has a big date or event he is going to that night, and he wants to look muscular for that event. He now goes in the gym, before the big event, and hits the weights hard for a full session. What did he just do? Did he build up or tear down his muscle mass?

You got it……… He tore down his lean muscle mass, resulting in fatigued, soft muscles. He now, will not be lean and hard for the big event.

What should he have done?

He should have trained 1-2 days prior, so that his body would have had time to rest, recover, and rebuild bigger leaner muscles.