Basic Weight Training Tips
Tips: Beyond the Basics
by Thomas F. Strafaci, CSCS
So you've started a weight training program and you've been at it for 6
months. You've gotten over the initial muscle soreness and stiffness and now
you're starting to see a little change in your body. Pretty cool, huh? Well
now it's time to move up and beyond your basic program.
Intermediate weight training is the level at which 90% of trainees work at
for the duration of their weight training lives. Truly advanced programs are
usually reserved for bodybuilders, Olympic lifters and power lifters whose needs
are very specific and demanding.
Let's look at the specific characteristics of a good weight training program
and see how they may apply to your program:
- Frequency of Training
- For optimum recovery, trainees need at least 48 hours between training
sessions for the same body part. This rule applies to every trainee...from
rank beginner to advanced bodybuilder. If you train all body parts each
workout, you should only train every other day. If you prefer splitting body
parts, just remember to rest each body part for 48 hours before it's next
- Exercise Volume
- If you are training every body part at each workout, you should limit your
exercises to one compound movement per body part. Compound exercises require
the movement of more than one joint, i.e., squats, bench presses, pull
downs, etc. If you are splitting your body parts, you can add simple
exercises to the corresponding compound exercises. Simple exercises require
the isolated movement of one joint. For example, you can add dumbbell flies
to your bench press, or leg curls to your squats.
- Exercise Intensity
- Compound exercises need more sets than simple exercises to be both safe
and effective. Simple, one-joint exercises are more direct in nature. A good
rule of thumb for the intermediate trainer is four to six sets of compound
exercises and two sets of simple exercises. Rep schemes generally involve
eight to ten reps for upper body movements and twelve to twenty reps for
lower body movements. Try experimenting with such principles as forced
reps and training to failure for short periods (one workout every
two weeks). They're harder to recover from and always require a spotter or
- Workout tempo is not addressed by many trainers, but it is very important.
You should train at a fairly rapid pace with minimal rest between sets.
Strive for less recovery time between sets and exercises. This develops your
anaerobic and, to some degree, your aerobic energy systems.
These techniques will help you move beyond basic training and allow you to
make steady gains in your weight training program.
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