This document is to serve as a basic guideline for designing your own strength training routine. It is not an exercise prescription and does not take into account any previous injuries or physical conditions. It is highly recommended you see a physician before starting any exercise routine. Men vs Women Men and women are created very differently and correspondingly must train differently. First of all women have a fraction of testosterone necessary to build large amounts of muscle mass, therefore it is counterproductive for a female to train on a heavy resistance mass building routine. In my experience very few females are desirous of building large muscles, in fact this is probably most common anxiety women have concerning strength training. Second, it is important to note that single most significant factor in determining body shape is your pre-set genetic code. The maximum your muscle can hypertrophy (get bigger) was largely determined before you were born. That is not to say that you can not drastically change shape and size of your body, just that it is important to set realistic and attainable goals. With these facts in mind women and men generally proceed slightly different with a strength training plan. Females use lighter resistance and more repetitions whereas males who want to build muscle mass use heavier weights, increased resistance, and fewer repetitions. If you are a male not wanting to increase size of your muscles or a female wanting to "get big" this book is not for you. It is written from prospective of most common goals of strength training for men and women. "Toning" is not a specific goal and is an ambiguous term that in my experience implies both leanness and muscle size. You can use this book to build muscle size or endurance, increase strength and power.
I. Exercise Frequency I recommend a minimum of two sessions per week of strength training for men and women to ensure continue results. If you attempt to work out more Than three times per week you are probably wasting your time, conversely one total body workout is enough to maintain your progress, but is not enough to adequately exercise entire body. Bear in mind that frequency is ultimately affected by workout intensity, and that frequent low intensity strength training may not yield same results as a few high intensity work outs.
II. Basic Guidelines for Advance Weight Training
Vary Your Routine: There should be nothing "routine" about your routine. Your body acclimates very quickly to any stress put on it. You can reach a plateau after just a few weeks of strength training. In order to keep getting results you must constantly change your routine to keep your body guessing what is coming next. I recommend you change one or more of following on a weekly basis. 1. Exercises: Changing type of resistance placed on a muscle keeps It off balance by recruiting new muscle fibers. I recommend using a Combination of machines and free weights, each having their pros and cons (we will discuss this latter). Use a variety of exercises listed in last section for each muscle or muscle group.
2. Rest: Muscles can recover up to 90% after two minutes of rest Between sets. By reducing rest period between sets you can place Additional stress on muscle, however, this type of training may be Too intense to use every week. For men I recommend using a 1.5 - 2 Minute rest period between sets, especially for larger muscle groups of legs. Every fourth workout I would reduce rest period to about half, placing additional stress on muscles. You will not be able to lift as much weight or accomplish as many sets. At this level of intensity a chest workout may take as little as 10 minutes. For women who are building strength and endurance I recommend a minimum of 1 minute of rest between sets.
3. Order: Change order in which muscles are worked weekly with following exception, always work bigger muscles first. You can not fully work large muscles of your back if biceps are Exhausted, and if you can't lift your shoulders how are you going to work your chest. The following plan provides more than enough variety for changing exercise order.
2 Day Split
week 1week 2 1-legs & shoulders1-legs & triceps 2-Chest/Back/Triceps/Biceps2-back / chest / biceps / shoulders
week 3week 4week 5 1. legs / biceps1. legs / chest1. legs / back 2. back / chest / triceps / 2. back / arms / 2. chest / arms / shoulders shoulders shoulders
start over with week 1
3 day split
week 1week 2week 3 1. back / biceps1. chest / triceps1. back / chest 2. legs / shoulders2. legs / biceps2. legs / shoulders 3 chest / triceps3. back / shoulders 3. arms
week 4week 5week 6 1. chest / shoulders1. arms1. chest / biceps 2. legs / triceps2. legs / chest2. legs / back 3. back / biceps3. back3. triceps / shoulders start over with week 1
Number of exercises per body part: The number of exercises performed will vary from muscle group to muscle group. For example, biceps (a frequently overworked muscle group) will require just a few exercises versus large muscles in legs. Also, number of exercises performed per muscles group will also be directly related to number of sets per exercise. To keep you from getting confused I recommend following number of exexercises be performed for each muscle group. Once again this is only a guideline to adequately recruit fibers of each muscle group. The exact number of exercises performed will vary with intensity, repetitions, and fitness level.
Men Chest 4-6 exercises Back 4-6 Triceps2-3 Biceps1-2 Shoulders2-3
Women Chest3-4 exercises Back3-4 Triceps1-2 Biceps1-2 Shoulders2-3
Repetitions per exercise: When selecting number of repetitions per set it is important to note that intensity level. For males wanting to build mass each set should be performed to "failure with form." This simply means as many repetitions you can do to momentary muscle failure while maintaining proper form. Women may not need to train this intensely and should concentrate on getting a good muscle "burn" without complete failure.
Men: The following repetition scheme is based on protein breakdownor "tearing down" of muscle in order to build it back up and make it stronger. More reps will not stress muscle enough and too few will stress it too much and may promote injury.
Repetitions per set (cont.) Men 2 sets3 sets4 sets - 10 reps- 12-12 - 6 reps- 8-10 - 6- 8 - 4
Women: Women do not need to "pyramid" like men and may perform same number of repetitions per set. 1 set2 sets3 sets - 16 reps- 12 to 20- 12 to 20
Weight: I often tell my clients that amount of weight they are lifting is not relevant. This is for several reasons. Because you are changing your routine to keep your body "off guard" you may not be able to lift same amount as your last work out. For example, if you started out fresh with a dumbbell press last week and lifted to failure with 4 repetitions of 60 #'s, and this week you did two sets of push-ups prior to performing same exercise, you may only be able to lift 45 #'s for 4 reps. If you are lifting each set to failure you have reached maximum load your muscle can take for X number of reps, and you can not go beyond that limit. This is your primary objective, not to increase amount of resistance. The amount you are able to lift on any given day is based on factors such as diet, rest between sets, prior activities, and stress. Do not get discouraged by amount you are lifting. Concentrate on using proper form to muscle failure. Your first set should be used to warm up joint and muscle and should be a comfortable weight. Use your first set to judge progressive weight of your next sets. If your warm up set was very easy, and your goal is to lift 8 reps to failure on your next, you will know to adjust weight accordingly. Once you get comfortable with your bodies abilities, selecting resistance will become intuitive. "Pyramiding" simply means matching resistance to number of repetitions. An example of pyramiding for 3 sets of 12-10-6 repetitions would be using 20 #'s on your first set, 25#'s on second, and 30#'s on third.