Building a strength training routine can be one of the trickiest parts of a fitness program. Ask 10 personal trainers what the best strength training routine is and you will get 10 different answers. Below are 7 must-know guidelines to use when building a strength training program. Each guideline provides the basic foundation that all strength training programs abide by. Learning the proper way to use free weights will greatly improve your strength, fitness, and health levels.
1) We cannot strength train a muscle today and tomorrow. We have to allow at least 24-36 hours of rest. Lifting on consecutive days leads to overtraining, muscle fatigue, and possible injury. All of our strength gains are made during the rest time!
2) We cannot spot reduce. This means if we want to lose weight in our stomach, doing 100 crunches a day will not make our stomach flab disappear. To reduce stomach fat, we need an overall reduction in body fat. Reducing overall body fat results from eating well, regular exercise, and proper rest.
3) We can spot tone. If we want bigger biceps, we can strength train for hypertrophy (fancy word for muscle growth). It is possible for us to focus on one specific muscle group. This is sometimes called targeted training. Studies have shown that machines isolate a muscle better than free weights.
4) Our strength training routines must be regular and consistent for results to take place. It took us years to put on the weight. We shouldn't expect it to all fall off in three weeks. The best outcome from your fitness and strength training program should be a lifestyle change. Replace bad habits with healthy ones and reap the rewards.
5) Realize that our strength training routine must be changed every 4-6 weeks. This will prevent our body from hitting a plateau and it will keep things interesting. We can change our method, our exercise or our intensity level. Not changing our routine on a regular basis will eventually stop producing results. We will continually grow stronger as we progress with our fitness program. Be sure your body is challenged on every workout.
6) Our strength training routines must be built according to our specific goals. Specific goals may be: fat loss, hypertrophy, maintaining weight or adding bulk. Each goal will have a different method that is best suited for optimal results. Someone who is interested in losing body fat will strength train differently than someone looking to increase muscle bulk. Knowing what your specific goals are will aid in creating the best strength training program possible.
7) Our strength training routines must work all of the major muscle groups in our body 1-3 times per week. This includes our biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest, back, abs, quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Leaving out muscle groups will create an imbalance.
By using these 7 guidelines, anyone should be able to build a decent and effective program. The idea is to develop a safe strength training routine that provides us with major health and fitness benefits. Strength training has certainly increased in popularity over the past few years. Knowing how to build a strength training routine for our specific goals will move us one step closer to a fit body.
By Lynn VanDyke
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