BEFORE YOU START
If you are in your mid 30's or older, overweight, or
haven't exercised in a while, you need to get a physical from your doctor
before you start a weight training program.
WARM UP & COOL DOWN
A good warm up of 5 minutes of stretching exercises or mild
calisthenics increases your blood flow to your muscles, tendons, and
ligaments - and helps prepare them for your upcoming workout. You
should also start your workout by lifting a light weight or your first set
and add weight on your following sets. At the end of your workout
cool down with another 5 minutes of stretching which helps reduce muscle
To increase your strength, flexibility, and improve your shape in the
shortest amount of time - proper technique is a must! You need to
keep the weight you are lifting under control at all time, avoiding
swinging, jerking, arching, or bouncing movements. Pull or press the
weight evenly through your full range of motion. Don't be concerned
with how much you lift, but how you lift it!
LENGTH OF WORKOUT
Your workout can vary from 20 minutes if you are just beginning, 45-60 for
most weight trainers, or 2-3 hours for an advanced body-builder. The
length of your workout will depend upon your program, number of exercises,
sets, repetitions, and the amount of rest you take between sets.
NUMBER OF SETS
A set is a fixed number of repetitions (reps) or repeated movements of an
exercise. Most weight trainers attain their desired results in 2-3
sets. If you are just getting started, 1-2 sets is recommended, and
whereas serious lifters might perform 4-5 sets for each exercise.
NUMBER OF REPETITIONS
The general rule for most weight trainers is 8-12 repetitions (reps).
Beginning weight trainers should start out easy by performing 15-20 reps
with light weight and gradually work toward 8-12 reps. In contrast,
a power lifter will only lift a heavy weight 2-5 times.
WORKOUTS PER WEEK
Three workouts a week is the preferred number for most weight trainers.
A typical workout schedule is M-W-F or T-TH-S, with rest days following
each workout. If you are beginning or coming back after a long
layoff, you might train 2-3 times a week, whereas a hard-core body-builder
might train 4-6 times a week.
RESTING BETWEEN WORKOUTS
It is important to have days off, or rest days, between you workout days.
This allows your muscles the time needed to recover and build for the next
workout. Training too often and too much is counterproductive, a
tremendous waste of time, and greatly increases your risk for injuries.
REST TIME BETWEEN SETS
Resting between sets, usually 1-2 minutes, helps your muscles recover and
get prepared for the next exercise. However, if you want to burn
more calories and attain greater stamina, reduce your rest time to 20-30
seconds. Those lifting heavy weights need more time and require 2-3
minutes, or more to get ready.
HOW MUCH WEIGHT TO LIFT
Use the first couple of workouts to determine how much weight you should
start out with. Us as much weight as you can comfortably handle
(with the last rep being difficult) 15-20 reps for beginners; 8-12
reps for most weight trainers; and 2-5 reps for pure strength and power
WHEN TO INCREASE WEIGHT
Once you are able to perform your sets and reps fairly easily, increase
the weight. Repeat, until sets and reps once again become easy - add
weight and continue to repeat this pattern.
HOW TO BREATHE
Inhale at the beginning of each repetition, momentarily holding your
breath at the most difficult part, exhaling at the end of the repetition.
DO NOT hold your breath for the entire repetition, which can cause you to
pass out, especially if you are lifting weights over your head.
KEEP A RECORD
To help you plan out your weight training program, write down your
exercises, sets, reps, and weight you lift for each workout. This
will help you stay on course and allow you to see how you are progressing.
FREE WEIGHTS vs. MACHINES
Free weights (barbells and dumbbells) and machines (Universal, Nautilus,
Paramount, etc.) are both very effective for achieving excellent results
in strength and improving your shape. However, free weights develop
coordination, balance, and strength machines can not, and are therefore
preferred by many weight trainers, coaches, and athletes.
Most injuries occur when trying to lift too much too soon, missing
workouts, using improper techniques, and by die hard weight trainers
working so hard they exhaust their muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Having consistent workouts, giving your muscles time to develop, the rest
they need, and warming up properly greatly reduces your chance of