Blog 5

LIFTING WEIGHTS – A SIMPLE HOW TO GUIDE

October 15, 2018

Most people understand the benefits of gaining more muscle and losing fat.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that the most time efficient way to make this happen is by lifting weights.

So most people spend a whole lot of time on cardio – and little to no time with weights.

WHY?

Mostly because they don’t have a program that is both simple and efficient. Perhaps it is because they are confused as to which program will help them achieve their goals. And many people do not understand the basic principles of lifting weights.

Consistency is important. You need to develop a plan that is time efficient, safe, and produces results. The key is to keep it simple and to follow the plan.

A good trainer will analyze your needs and then create a plan that is right for you and will meet your goals.

Here are the basic principles to follow in creating a weight lifting plan:

REPS SETS AND WEIGHT

This may be the principle that causes the most confusion. Simply put a “rep” or repetition is one complete motion of an exercise. A set is a group of consecutive repetitions. And weight is the amount of resistance used in a single repetition.

The number of reps you should do depends on what your goals are. If your goal is muscle endurance you will aim for more reps than if your goal is muscle building. To tone your muscles and develop the type of strength and flexibility you need for everyday life, you should aim for between 24-30 reps in total for a particular exercise. Those reps are then spread out over several sets, again depending on your goals. But no matter the number of reps and sets, you should always use enough weight that the last rep is a struggle, but not such a struggle that you compromise good form. When you cannot do one more rep with good form, you are said to have reached muscle failure.

So for example if you decide to do 2 sets of 12 reps, use enough weight that the first set is a challenge but achievable. Rest no more than 10-15 secs between sets. At 8-10 reps in the second set you should be struggling, and after the 12th rep, not able to do one more. If you can then you do not have enough weight. If you cannot reach 12 you have too much weight.

REPITITION SPEED AND TEMPO

A common mistake is lifting too heavy of a weight too fast. This may cause the tension to end up in the wrong area of your body and increase your risk of injury. For optimal results each rep should take 6-8 secs with a slight but perceptible pause at each end of the movement, especially at the bottom where the joint is motionless. This will prevent you from using momentum to help start the next movement.

WHICH EXERCISES AND IN WHAT ORDER?

The exercises that are the best use of your time and yield optimal results are called compound movements. These are movements where more than one joint and muscle group is working within the same exercise. Examples would be squats, chest press and rows. Of course sometimes you need to focus on one muscle, especially those that are generally underutilized, such as triceps and calves.

As a general rule, exercise bigger muscles before smaller and alternate between muscle groups. For example if you are doing a full body workout, alternate between front and back, and between top and bottom.

Once you are familiar with the principles, you can expand into many different programs that focus more directly on your goals.

As always consider working with an experienced trainer who will be able to develop a personalized program and guide you through it.