Setting Up Your Weight Lifting Routine

Now that you've identified your goals, it's time to develop a plan. This plan will act as your blueprint and will guide you in your weight lifting routine.

The first step is to design a program that meets your goals and objectives. If you haven't decided on some goals and objectives, I stongly suggest you sit down and ask yourself why you want to train with weights. It's very important that you identify your goals.

There are several steps involved in designing your weight lifting routine. These steps are outlined as follows:

- Choosing your exercises
- Deciding on the order of your exercises
- Determine the amount of repetitions, sets and weight
- Rest periods between sets
- Rest time between workouts

Let's take a look at each of these variables.

Choosing your exercises

Choosing your exercises can be a little tricky if you haven't done any previous weight training. If you haven't done any weight training before, you need to pick an exercise that will help develop balance and allow for you to get a "feel" for the weight. For example, there are 40 different kinds of chest exercises you can do. Which one do you need? Personally, for a beginner, I'd start with a basic dumbbell exercise such as the flat bench dummbell press. The dumbbell press will allow you to develop balance which is very important in weight training. See the image below:

As you progress with your weight training routine, you may want to add another exercise or change up your exercise choice. However, I recommend you stick with a basic exercise such as the dumbbell press and keep at it until you can comforable add more weight.

If you are just beginning, you need to pick at least one exercise per body part but no more than two. I'd say start with one exercise per body part for the first two months and see how you progress. Here are some examples of exercises for each body part that I recommend you do:

• Chest - Flat bench dumbbell press
• Shoulders - Seated dumbbell press
• Back - One arm dumbbell row
• Biceps - Seated alternate dumbbell curl
• Triceps - Standing cable press down
• Thighs - Leg extensionsrip bench press
• Hamstrings - Lying leg curl
• Calves - Seated calf raise
• Abs - Crunches

Here are some more example exercise you may want to include in your weight training program - Click here.

Deciding on the order of your exercises

The rule here is to always start with your largest body parts first. Because large body parts require the most effort, it's best to hit them when you have the most energy. For example, if you are going to do a full body workout, you may want to follow this type of progression:

1 - Thighs;
2 - Back;
3 - Chest;
4 - Shoulders;
5 - Biceps;
6 - Triceps;
7 - Hamstrings;
8 - Calves;
9 - Abs

Determining the amount of repetitions, sets and weight

I'm going to assume your not a seasoned weight trainer. The first thing you have to establish as a beginner to weight training, is balance. Once you establish balance, you can adjust to the weight and get the benefit from weight training. You simply can't show up to the gym and lift some weight and expect to get toned muscles, because it doesn't work that way.

The first thing you have to do is establish a base, which is basically your balance with the weight. Once you establish some balance, you will gradually add, either more weight or more repetitions. This period generally lasts for about two months, maybe more, maybe less depending on your consistency. The more consistent you are with you program, the faster you will attain the results. I personally think a 12 repetitions scheme will work fine for all beginners because it's just enough repetitions to help get your body used to the weight.

How many sets should you do? If you are just beginning, I'm going to recommend one to two sets. No more is needed at this point. You will follow this kind of regiment for about 3 to 4 weeks until your body adjusts.

In terms of weight, how much should you start out with? Let me put it this way, go to the start of the dumbbell rack and pick the smallest weights you can find. Generally, these will be the 2 1/2 pound dumbbells. Your first workout will be with these. If you can lift these with ease, your next workout will be with the 5 pounders.

For a complete discussion, click here.

I feel you have to "challenge" your body on a consistent basis in order to stimulate more growth. For example, if you do a biceps curl with a 15 pound dumbbell for 8 consecutive workouts, you won't get as much improvements as if you had increased the weight to 20 pounds dumbbells after the fouth workout. By using the 20 pound dumbbells after the fourth workout, you increase the intensity of the exercise. However, you will need to work your way up to this.

Beginners to weight lifting will not use all out intensity. Over time, as you improve your form, technique and gain a better understanding of your mind body connection, you will increase the intensity of your exercises.

Exercise speed

When you first start out weight training, it's hard to determine the speed at which you should be the exercise. The best advice I can give to you is that your movement each way, should last about one breath in and one breath out. Try this, keep one arm at your side and curl it up. As you curl it up, you should take a deep breath in. At the top of the movement, you should have taken in a full breath. Now, slowly exhale and gently return your arm to the starting position. This is generally the speed at which you should be doing your exericses. Remember, don't go too fast or you will start to develop bad habits.

Do not jerk or swing the weight.

Muscle soreness

There's not getting away from this. Your going to be getting sore, so get used to that idea. However, the soreness does start to susbside after a couple of months. The best advice I can give you is to get plenty of rest. The first couple of weeks is going to be the hardest but if you can pull through, the muscle soreness won't be so bad.

The thing you have to remember about muscle soreness is that it's a part of growing. As you muscle breaks down from weight training, it adapts by growing and getting stronger. It's during this phase that the muscle get's stressed and rebels by getting sore. No worries, it all gets better, as you get better. For a more detailed discussion, please click here.

Proper workout clothing

You should wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that allows you to move comfortably. For a complete discussion click here

Keeping a training and meal log

This is very important - keep a log of everything you do. Training logs help keep your program on track and keeps you motivated. I've been weight training for over 20 years and I still keep weight training logs. I think the most important aspect to weight training logs is that you can see your actual progress and keep close tabs on your weight, reps, and sets. If you don't have access to logs, you can go to the page below. Simply print off as much as you want and keep them in a binder. Actually, I've added a calender as well, so you can keep track of your days on and days off. Click here for the logs.

Alright, let's start designing your program. But before we do that, you will need to decide what kind of equipment you need to use. Let's go over some of your options here.

Once you've taken a look at the equipments page above, take a look at the following routines on this page here.

Resources you may want to see:

- Burning fat

- Weight training tips

- Nutrition

All the best,


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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