Once you've identified your goals, the next step is to choose the appropriate routine to achieve those goals. This website has plenty of routines to choose from and if you haven't chosen a routine yet, now would be a good time to review. Simply click the "routines" button from the upper left hand navigation menu.
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Pick a routine that accurately fits your training level, lifestyle, and goals. If you're a beginner looking to lose some fat, try going to the beginners section. If you've been training for a few years and want to start adding some serious muscle mass, try using the more advanced routine. If you want a fat blitzing program, try using the fat burning routines.
It's very important to assess your current physical situation and use a routine that fits with your current level. For example, if you're a beginner, you don't want to attempt the advanced routines.
After picking a routine, it's important to know what the exercises are and how to properly perform them. Each routine will have specific exercises according to the type of routine it is. I've laid out the exercises according to it's importance and how well it fits into the layout of the routine. I've learned from experience that to achieve your goals, you have to constantly improve from workout to workout while slowly increasing intensity levels.
This goes for beginners and advanced alike. For those of you who don't know what intensity levels are, the simplest way I can describe it is this:
"The amount of physical and mental effort needed to improve from workout to workout using varying degrees of angles, sets, speed, repetitions, and other workout variables".
This is a very simple description but it gets the point acorss. In order to achieve your goals, you need to increase the necessary effort (intensity) in order to improve in each of your successive workouts.
The exercises in the routines have all been hand picked because of their effectiveness. The hardest exercises are those that use multi muscle groups. However, these are the most efficient and effective exercises to perform. Often called "Compound Movements" these exercises use a system of muscles in order to lift the weight. It is because of this that these movements stimulate a much larger muscle area. For this reason, these movements are first and foremost in the routines. Since these exercises use up the most energy and are the most rewarding, it only makes sense to do them when you're fresh and full of energy.
What types of exercises are compound movements? Example would include:
Barbell curls;These are just a few examples but if the exercise takes more than two muscle groups to complete the lift, it is considered a compound movement.
The sequence of exercises are laid out in a way that uses compound movements first followed by isolaton and other single muscle group exercises. Isolation exercises are those exercises that "isolate" a muscle group. I personally feel these exercises are great but not as effective as compound movements. For example, squats (compound) are much more effective and efficient at stimulating a larger muscle area than seated leg extensions are (isolation).
Of course, you don't have to use the recommended exercises in the routines, however, I do suggest you follow the format. That is, trying following the presecribed amount of exercises, sets, rest, and repetitions. The programs have all been designed to provide optimal amount of rest and recovery times.
Let's go over some of the basics.
If I had to pick the most critical element to a successful weight training program, it would be workout improvements. In order to see the true benefits of resistance type training, one needs to constantly improve. This element is probably the most important aspect when it comes to weight training, yet it is the least discussed.
Simply showing up to the gym and using the same exercises, sets, repetitions, rest, and weight will not produce the desired effect you're looking for. Sure, this type of training may yield a certain amount of results, in the beginning. However, your body will adapt to these variables and will come to a state of equilibrium. That is, your body will stop adapting and over time, will stop making any additional improvements. Since you are not making any additional effort to improve, your body will also stop making efforts to grow.
I see this phenomenon everyday at the gym. I see the same guys showing up day after day, doing the same thing over and over, and never ever seem to get stronger or make additional gains. The fact of the matter is this. If you want to get the full benefits from weight training, you have to make constant improvements in your routine. The improvements I'm referring to are as follows:
Using the above noted points, will allow you to make the necessary improvements in your workouts which will result in faster, more solid gains. Always remember this. Successful weight training is about making small, mini improvements week after week. These small improvements will add up to huge results over longer periods of time (IE: 12 weeks). This will also help you avoid training plateaus.
This is often called progression but I prefer the term improvement. You see, it all boils down to making "mini" improvements in your program. This will determine your success levels. Once you stop improving, (two weeks or more) there is something wrong with your program. At this time, you have to evaluate your training and determine if it's your diet, exercise variables, or rest and recovery times.
The only exeption is for beginners. Beginners should be using a routine that will help them become familiar with the exercises and technique. These exercises will help them with balance and range of motion. However, after a certain amount of time has elapsed, it is time to start adding more exercises, sets, repetitions, or workloads.
This point ties into the above. In order to make the necessary workout improvements, you have to be willing to put in additional effort. Since you are trying to improve with each passing workout, your workout effort (intensity levels) will have to increase. There are various techniques to do this but I've found the above noted improvements are the best at making additional gains.
This is what I call the workout paradigm. As you make the necessary improvements and your body becomes stronger, one might think that the workouts would get easier. I wish this was true but it's the exact opposite. The workouts only get harder and harder. This goes back to the price you pay for having an strong and healthy body. Additional results require additional effort.
You need to be very specific about what it is you want. If you want to lose that spare tire around your waist and get back into shape, you need to choose a program that fits this goal. If you want to gain muscle mass, you need to choose a specific program that will allow for this type of muscle gain. This ties in very closely to choosing your goals. Once you've identified your fitness goals it is time to specify a program to achieve those goals.
In order to achieve your fitness goals, you will have to progressively add more and more muscle fibre stimulation. This can be done in a variety of ways which, as I've stated above can be performed using heavy weight, additional repetitions or increasing the speed of your workouts. Let me be very clear about this. You don't have to use super heavy weight in order to stimulate additional muscle growth.
I know, many of you may be under the assumption that heavy weight must be used if you want to build muscle. Heavy weight is all relative to the amount of muscle fibre stimulation it provides. Mind you, using heavy weight is very effective at building strength and muscle mass, it is not the only way to get the job done.
Using heavy weight for the sake of using heavy weight is very counter productive. This often leads to poor form and technique which will bring about unwanted injuries. Using progressively heavier weights in good form from workout to workout will be much more productive. Remember, it is all about making small improvements from workout to workout. If you feel you can add an additional 10 pounds to your last set of bench press' and still get the same amount of repetitions as you did last workout, this is an improvement.
However, if you can perform additional repetitions using the same weight, sets, and rest periods as you did in your previous workout, than this also is considered an improvement.
I personally find using a combination of increasing workloads and progressive repetitions is the best solution for building quality muscle mass.
Using this method, you can utilize both, progressively heavier weight while increasing the amount of repetitions you do. Let's say on day one, you do 12 unassisted repetitions with 120 pounds using the barbell shoulder press. For your next workout, your goal is to add another 10 pounds to the bar for your last set of shoulder press'.
Your aim is to perform 12 unassisted repetitons with this new weight. You won't add any additional weight for this exercise until you can perform 12 unassisted repetitions. Let's say on your third shoulder workout you are able to perform 12 repetitions using 130 pounds. You will once again add another 10 pounds to the bar and start the cycle over by pushing yourself to perform another 12 repetitions.
This is a very effective combination that will improve your efforts and intensity while allowing you to make improvements in weight and repetitions. This will also help save your joints and connective tissues associated with heavy weight and low repetitions.