A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO WEIGHT TRAINING
Everyone agrees that any good exercise program MUST include weight training! Well anyone who knows their stuff agrees on this. But us chicks find it so intimidating to step into the weights room of our local gym. I did too.
I was convinced all the guys in there were staring/snickering/laughing at me. My other half let me in on the secret. “No one is laughing at you. If anyone is staring its cos its awesome to see chicks doing weights”. Oh ok. This made me feel better and want to learn more.
It can be a bit daunting learning all the new lingo that comes along with weight training so below is the beginners guide to getting ripped! Or at least understanding how to design or read your program.
REPS – Reps stand for Repetitions and that is how many times you will perform an exercise. Ie 10 Repetitions of bicep curls.
EXERCISE – This means each individual exercise you perform ie Bicep Curl, Bench Press, Pull Ups…
SETS – A set is how many times you will complete a number of repetitions of an exercise. Ie Bicep Curl: 3 Sets of 10 Repetitions
REST – Rest is how long you will rest for in-between sets. Usually 60 seconds is suffice but you may need longer if lifting quite heavy loads. You may wish to rest for only 30 seconds to not only quicken up your total workout time but increase the intensity and raise your heart rate more.
DE-LOAD – De-Load is very important to ensure you are scheduling periods of rest or lower intensity into your program so you don’t burn out. De-Load is typically added into your program every 4 weeks. Ie in a 12 week program, a De-Load week is scheduled for weeks 4, 8 and 12. On a De-Load weights session you will lift only around 50% of the weight you have been lifting on each exercise in the previous weeks.
TYPES OF WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAMS
Below are the 2 main types of weight training programs but it’s important to know that there are heaps of variations of each!
HYPERTROPHY: Beginners should almost always start with what’s known as a Hypertrophy program. Hypertrophy means an increase in the size of a muscle. It is the result of an increase to the size of the existing cells rather than the number of cells.
Hypertrophy programs typically use the following ratio: 3 Sets of 10-12 Reps. Hypertrophy programs are good for beginners as they involve higher reps which allow more exposure to a new exercise and the movement patterns of each exercise to be enforced more. Generally simple exercises and pin loaded machines are used at first for beginners with the ability to advance to harder free weights progressively. (See Pin loaded Versus Free weights for more info).
STRENGTH TRAINNG: Once you have plateaued with your hypertrophy program its time to step things up a notch. This is where strength training programs come into play for a novice trainer like you and I. Strength training typically uses the following ratio: 4 Sets of 4-5 Reps. So the way this differs to a hypertrophy program is that it requires us to increase the number of Sets whilst decreasing the number of reps. Essentially you are lifting way heavier so you should only be able to manage 4-5 Reps and you perform this for 4 Sets. For a strength program you need to be performing exercise typically designed at producing maximum strength. No pin loaded machines here. Typical strength exercises include: Back Squat, Chest Press, Shoulder Press, Deadlift, Barbell Row, Pull Ups (weighted)…
PIN LOADED VERSUS FREE WEIGHTS
PIN LOADED: This is where all beginners begin They are the weighted machines you see in a gym. Its good to start with these machines because you still haven’t properly developed the “switching on” of your smaller stabiliser muscles that are heavily involved when using free weights. Alos if you get fatigue or injured you don’t need to worry as much about dropping weights and injuring yourself – or others!
WEIGHT LOADED: Now we are getting into the big girl weights Free weights refer to items like dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells etc. Any weights that aren’t connected to a machine and require you to control the weight. When beginning on free weights many people find balance to be the hardest part of the exercise but those stabiliser muscles will soon switch on and you will find the exercise easier.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I WEIGHT TRAIN?
It really depends on your schedule. As a general rule you should have a day in between each weights training session to allow your muscles to recover before doing it all again. The main aim is to train each major body part each week. The body parts that you must train are: Chest, Triceps, Back, Biceps, Legs, Shoulders and Abs. You must perform 3 different exercises for each body part for the best training response.
Here are a couple of ways you might like to split up the body parts depending on your time availability each week.
3 DAY SPLIT:
Monday – Chest, Triceps and Abs
Wednesday – Back, Biceps and Abs
Friday – Legs, Shoulders and Abs
2 DAY SPLIT
Tuesday – Upper Body: Chest, Back, Tricep and Abs
Thursday – Lower Body: Back, Shoulders, Biceps and Abs.
Now you have the basics down pat you can go forward and design your own weights program or at the very least understand your trainers program. From here go and google what exercises are good for each body part especially if you’re a beginner!
Don’t want to Google? Rather we just tell you how?
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