Weight training programs are all different, but the overall aim is to increase your strength, number one, and fitness, number two. Generally there are two main categories that weight training is associated with: Isolation and Compound movements. Although some people prefer to primarily use isolation or compound exercises, both can be used to increase your strength and fitness. The best way to construct your weight training program is to plan when you will train, what exercises you will do and how many sets and repetitions per exercise.
Time is a very important factor in weight training. Your body needs sufficient time to exercise and enough time to rest. Beginners should aim for 2 sessions a week, so that their body has more time adapt, regain strength and improve fitness. More advanced weight trainers should aim for three sessions a week, as more experienced weight trainers have increased fitness levels and do not need as much time to rest (Livestrong, 2015).
Generally, exercise routines should take no longer than 1.5 hours at high intensity. This will ensure you do not over train and have more time for your day to day life. Even 45 minutes of high intensity weight training per session is enough.
Training at a high intensity is a good way to increase your fitness levels. Minimal resting between sets, less than 2 minutes, improves cardiovascular endurance although negatively impacts your strength capacity between sets. If strength is your goal or vice versa, your resting time should vary. It is recommended that you rest until your breathing has regulated so as to ensure that your strength is at an optimal level between sets. This is usually between 2-3 minutes or more, depending on your fitness level, the amount of weight you are lifting, and the intensity of your effort, i.e. did you train to failure.
The best exercises to have in a weight training program are compound exercises. Compound exercises work more than one joint or muscle group. For example the front squat exercise causes you to bend the knee joint and hip joint making it a compound exercise. Compound exercises are the best for increasing joint strength, burning calories and building muscular strength. Some example of these exercises include barbel squats, squat cleans and bench press (British Weight Lifters Association, 2009).
Isolation exercises should also be included in a weight training program. Isolation exercises target one muscle group or joint. These exercises are great if you have an injury and plan to avoid using that particular muscle. Isolation exercises are also great for improving a particular muscle group without involving other muscle groups. Some of these exercises include dumbbell curls, calf raises and leg curls (using a machine).
Weight trainers should aim for 10 – 15 repetitions per exercise. 10 – 15 repetitions are the best for maximum muscle growth and safety. Any program that suggests repetitions below 6 should be done under precaution and instruction, as the risks to injuries are greater if your exercise form is incorrect. 10 – 15 repetitions equally balance the strength and fitness aspect of weight training, which improves your overall performance (British Weight Lifters Association, 2009). I personally like to use a repetition range between 6 and 12.
The best way to increase your strength for a particular exercise is to slightly increase your weight after you are able to fully complete 10 – 15 repetitions. For maximal muscle growth, exercises should be done until failure i.e. your muscle has fatigued to the point where you cannot complete a repetition. For example, you can squat 100kg for 10 repletions today, aim to do 12 repetitions next time you squat, and if you get 12 repetitions during the next workout day your new squat weight will be 105kg until you can complete 12 repetitions with this new weight. Needless to say that your exercise form should remain textbook.
Weight training can offer many benefits to your body if you lift correctly and safely. With a healthy diet and regular exercise you will feel(and look) really good. Stick to these guide lines and after a few months of hard work you will start to see results. Remember, like weight training, we should to try our hardest in life with everything as said in Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters