Beginners Guide to Weight Training Page 4

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The program is broken down into two workouts. The first workout is called workout A which will concentrate on lower body and certain upper body exercises. The second workout is called workout B and will concentrate on the upper body and abdominal muscles (stomach). You will workout 3 days out of the week alternating between workout A and B. A total of 3 workouts per week will be performed, alternating between workouts A and B. On day 1 for the next week, you will start on Workout B, and so forth. Given as:

Day 1 Workout A
Day 2
Day 3
Workout B
Day 4
Day 5 Workout A
Day 6 Rest
Day 7 Rest

Here's a quick look at the exercises, sets, repetitions, and rest periods.

Workout A
Muscle Group Exercise Sets Reps Rest
5 Minutes light cardiovascular  
Upper legs Dumbbell squats 1 12 1 1/2 minutes
Chest Dumbbell bench press 1 12 1 1/2 minutes
Biceps (upper arms) Seated dumbbell curls 1 12 1 1/2 minutes
Workout B
Muscle Group Exercise Sets Reps Rest
5 Minutes light cardiovascular  
Shoulders Dumbbell shoulder press 1 12 1 1/2 minutes
Upper/Mid Back Single arm dumbbell rows 1 12 1 1/2 minutes
Triceps (upper Arms) Dumbbell triceps extensions 1 12 1 1/2 minutes
Abdominals Ab crunches 1 12 1 1/2 minutes

For a printable version of this workout, please click here.

Prior to weight training, I highly recommend performing 5 minutes of light cardiovascular work. This can include an exercise bike, treadmill, elliptical trainer, stair stepper or other forms of cardiovascular exercise. Don't feel that you have to use a mechanical exercise apparatus. You can also walk / run on the spot, do jumping jacks, jump rope, or other various exercises. Weather permitting, try going for a short walk. The important point is to do a general warm up that will get the blood flowing throughout your body.

Each exercise will contain a description, illustration, and video for each exercise (next page). I suggest you print out each exercise page and add it to your binder. This will serve as a quick reference exercise guide.

The set and repetitions structure is very simple in nature and it will allow you to work all the major muscle groups in an efficient and timely manner.

The rest periods can vary from person to person. One and a half minute rest periods in between each exercise should provide you enough time to go from one exercise to the next. However, don't feel like you have to follow the rest schedule to the tee. If you are still tired from the previous exercise, take another minute to rest. If you feel the rest period is too long, shorten it up. The point is to proceed at a comfortable pace.

How Do You Decide How Much Weight Too Use?

As a beginner to weight training, you may find yourself confused as too how much weight to use for each exercise. Well, there are various techniques to figure this out but we're going to keep this very simple. All your going to do is pick the lightest weight, such as the 2 ½ pound dumbbells and use this as the starting weight. What you want to do is set your program up with a starting point. Once you have your starting point, you have your base weight and a measure of progress. For example, let's say in my first week of using the program, I am able to do 12 easy repetitions in the dumbbell bench press. I will write this information down in my trusty log and record the lift.

I now know that I can either do 12 repetitions next week for the same exercise, do more repetitions for the same exercise or use a little more weight and try to perform 12 repetitions. If you recall, I mentioned that the key to success at weight training is to make small improvements from workout to workout. By using a light weight to begin, you provide yourself with a starting point on which to improve upon.

Remember, pick a light weight and use that weight for most of your exercises. The exception may be dumbbell squats. If you've never performed squats before, you may want to forego the dumbbells and use your body weight. Only when you can comfortably perform the prescribed repetitions should you think about using dumbbells.

When Should You Start Using More Weight?

As you progress with the weight training program, your body will respond by getting stronger. That is, your body will start to adapt to the weight being used. As previously mentioned, success at weight training comes from making improvements. If you find that you can easily perform the prescribed repetitions, you may want to:

  • Perform additional repetitions (14 instead of 12); Or
  • Use heavier dumbbells (5 pound dumbbells instead of 2.5 pounds) and perform the same 12 repetitions

For example, let's say I perform 12 easy repetitions in the dumbbell bench press this week. For my next workout, I may choose to do an additional 2 (14 in total) repetitions with the same weight or use 5 pound dumbbells (instead of 2 ½ pounders) and perform 12 repetitions. However, you may still use the same weight and go on with your workouts. Just remember that the benefits of improving from workout to the next are much more rewarding IE: stronger body, toned muscles, additional fat burning, etc.,

However, you must feel comfortable with any change in your workout program. If you feel you aren't ready to move on, please keep on doing what your doing. When your ready to put in more effort, please do so when you are ready.

What About Water?

This is very important. Water is the stuff than helps ensure proper muscle contraction and basically keeps your body moving. Never go into a workout dehydrated. For a complete discussion about water and it's importance in weight training, please click here.

Before working out, try consuming two glasses of water. As you workout, sip on water in between your exercises. You should be consuming another glass (or two) of water as you workout and one once you've completed your workout. Water will help ensure your muscles are doing what they're supposed to be doing, and that's providing proper contractions. Proper contractions mean an efficient working muscle. Remember to drink enough water before, during, and after working out.

Rest And Recover

Rest is when your muscle recovers from working out. It's during recovery when your muscles (And body) start to re-build. Beginners will often think muscles grow and get stronger as you workout. They don't. Muscles adapt to weight training while they're resting. That is, your muscles (And body) will start to grow and get stronger while you're resting. Think of it this way:

  1. Weight training is what gives your body a reason to change;
  2. Diet and proper nutrients provides your body with the building material to initiate the change;
  3. Rest and recovery facilitates this change by giving your body the time it needs to process weight training and diet.

The end results it positive growth and all the benefits that go along with weight training. Weight training benefits takes a certain amount of time because our bodies need time to adapt. It doesn't happen overnight. However, if you are consistent with the weight training program, follow a proper diet, and get the prescribed amount of rest, you'll get there much sooner - Which is what we all want, Right?

Fortunately, you have Building Muscle 101's beginners guide to help guide you every step of the way. All you have to do is follow the program and have the will to change. I've laid out the program that will allow for the optimal amount of rest. This way, your body will be well rested with each weight training session.

What Are Sets and Repetitions?

For those of you who are completely new to weight training, you may not know what a set and a repetition is. It is imperative that you understand what these two terms are. Allow me to explain what each of these terms are and how they relate to one another.

An exercise repetition is to complete the movement from start to finish, once. For example, lets say you want to do a shoulder press. I want you to lift your hands (using no weights) up to the sides of your shoulder with your palms facing outwards, now press them up until your arms are fully extended. Lower your hands back to your upper shoulders. You have just completed one repetition for this exercise. If you were to do that ten times, that would be considered ten repetitions. Another example is the push up. To perform one repetition, simply get into position and lower your body to the floor and push back up to the starting position. That one motion is considered one repetition.

A set is a series of repetitions. For example, 2 sets of 10 repetitions of the push up exercise would be to perform 10 push ups (10 repetitions), rest for 1 minute and perform another 10 repetitions. You have just completed 2 sets of 10 repetitions. Sometimes given as:

2 x 20 repetitions or 2 x 20 reps

What About Muscle Soreness?

There's really no way of getting around this. Your muscles may become sore after working out and may last a couple of days. This is a totally natural response to weight training and is a positive sign that your muscles are trying to adapt. Over time, the muscle soreness will subside and won't be as severe but like anything else, it's a part of weight training. It's a part of the price we all pay to have a stronger, faster, healthier, and leaner body.

Watch your diet, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of rest. These elements will help alleviate some of the muscle soreness. Also, you may try topical formulas such as tiger balm to help alleviate some of the muscle tension and pain. For a more detailed discussion, please read this page here.

What About Diet And Supplements?

Diet is very important. Supplements can also play a role in your overall program, which we will go over. However, I've written a nutrition guide which, you can print off and stick them into your binder. The diet section will go over the basics of nutrition and I will provide a healthy menu plan that will be the perfect partner to your training program. You can go directly to the beginners diet section at:

Beginner diet and menu

When should you start following the health menu plan? I suggest sooner than later because it will only help to enhance your efforts.

As far as supplements are concerned, you don't need them. At this stage, your body is not quite ready to be using sports supplements. Through proper nutrition, you will receive all the necessary nutrients you need to attain great results.

However, if you really want to take sports supplements, there are two that I recommend. The first one is a good multi vitamin / mineral pack and the second is a protein powder. I suggest you take the vitamin pack immediately after your breakfast. As for the protein powder, try taking two servings throughout the day, one as soon as you wake up, and another immediately after weight training. For more information on supplements, please click here.

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As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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