“Implementing a proper weight lifting program will boost your metabolism. This step-by-step guide details the most effective way on how to do it.”
When you’re just beginning a weight lifting program, it is important to limit yourself to exercises that are easy. This is especially important for weight training. A personal trainer can be a tremendous help in getting you started on the right foot. He or she is likely to recommend that you start with a one-set, ten-rep weight lifting program of eight to ten different exercises that you’re to do two or three times a week. (Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know what I mean by sets and reps. I explain these terms for you a little later in this article.)
Weight Lifting Program Info
Common exercises include the . . .
- bench press,
- bicep curls,
- incline sit-ups or leg lifts,
- and a cardio routine.
Whatever you do for your weight lifting program, be sure to tackle your chosen exercises in an appropriate order. There are many systematic ways in which you can train your muscles. I’ve included an example exercise routine in the 7 Day Weight Loss Plan which we’ll go over later. But any qualified personal trainer or fitness coach can prescribe an exercise routine that’s right for you.
Always Train Your Muscle Groups In An Organized, Systematic Fashion
- Typically, your trainer will recommend starting with a larger muscle group and working your way down to a smaller one.
- If you’re doing more than one set of a particular exercise, you should complete all those sets before going on to the first set of another exercise.
- Moreover, you should do all the exercises for one muscle group before going on to another muscle group.
- Once you choose a predefined order in which to work your muscles, stick to it until and unless your trainer instructs you otherwise.
Example: Back Exercises
You will most likely be told to start by exercising your back, since this is your body’s largest muscle group.
- Your back routine might include three sets of a rowing exercise.
- If this is the case, you should do all three sets, but allow a proper resting period in between, before moving on to the next exercise group.
- Don’t do one set for your back, then one set for your arms, and then a repeat of the back exercise.
It may be difficult to fit in the various exercises in the proper exercise sequence, especially when your health club is extremely busy. But take your time and do it right.
- If your back workout includes two or three different back exercises, then do all of those back exercises together before moving on to the exercises for some other muscle group (such as doing squats to strengthen your leg muscles).
Example: Chest Routine
- On a chest routine, you should do all of your bench presses first, then your incline bench presses, and finally your flies.
If you do your exercises “out of order,” you’ll miss the added benefit of fully targeting blood to just one muscle group at a time. Only by targeting your muscle power to one specific group at a time can you fully enjoy the stimulation that your weight lifting program provides and optimize the long-term benefits that you gain from it.
Simply stated, start with the largest muscle group, and finish exercising that group before moving on to the next-largest one. Then continue this process until you’ve completed your entire exercise routine.
Getting “Stale” In Your Weight Lifting Program?
The only note I would add is that your body will eventually get a bit “stale” as it becomes accustomed to your established weight lifting program. This will probably happen about three months after you embark on your weight lifting program, provided that you’ve exercised on a regular basis during that time.
To deal with this stale condition, you’ll need to systematically alter the order in which you perform your exercises; otherwise, your results will begin to diminish. If you find that you need help with this, one thing you can do is to get hold of a good manual on exercise routines that will help you reach higher levels of success.
Exercise Sets And Reps
Walk into any health club or gym, and you’re bound to hear the terms sets and reps.
- A rep (which is short for “repetition”) consists of a single performance of one particular weight-lifting or other exercise movement.
- A set consists of the sum total of all the times that you engage in a particular movement in succession before taking a rest.
For example, suppose that you set out to do pushups.
- If you do just one pushup, that’s one rep. While if you do six pushups, that’s six reps.
- If you then decide to stop and take a quick rest, even if it’s just long enough to catch your breath, that signals the end of one set of pushups.
- If you then do six more reps (that is, after your short rest period), these six new pushups count as your second set.
The best way to increase your metabolism is to do three to four sets of eight to twelve reps apiece.
For example, you might lift a certain weight eight to twelve times in succession. Then rest for a bit (just long enough to allow your muscles to recover). And then repeat the entire cycle (of exercising and resting) two or three times.
Typically, the breaks between sets would last about thirty seconds.
How Many Sets Per Exercise?
The number of sets per exercise is always a personal matter, and you’ll notice that different exercisers are following different routines, according to their particular goals, interests, and personal preferences. One very important note: Don’t take the advice of other exercisers at a health club or gym. I’m sure they all mean well, but your goal is to persist in a given weight lifting program. It’s not to try one approach and then quickly switch to another.
It’s best to take the advice of one source that you consider to be an expert. You can start by following the expert advice in this website. Once you’ve mastered every aspect of what’s presented here, you should move on, either to a more advanced manual or to another fitness expert. Just be sure not to change your routine until you’ve truly mastered the one you’re following at any given time; this is where so many otherwise-successful people fail miserably.
As mentioned before, one of the wonderful things about muscles is that they get stronger and denser as we subject them to additional stress (in the form of progressively more-demanding exercises). That’s why we must continually add more stress to our weight lifting program. This is done by either:
- increasing the amount of weight lifted
- or decreasing the duration of the rest period between sets
As muscles adapt to a particular level of stress (weight or rest time), the amount of stress must be gently increased (by increasing the weight or cutting down on the rest period). That is if you are to continue to reap the benefits of the exercise in the form of denser, stronger muscles and an ever-increasing metabolism caused by those denser muscles.
If you refrain from upping the level of stress, your weight lifting program will still be beneficial, but you won’t develop the muscle density that you’ve set your sights on.
Please remember that, as noted in a previous article, muscle density does not equate to muscle size. An increase in muscle density is a direct result of a rise in the concentration of muscle fibers that work in harmony within a particular muscle. In effect, the more compact and concentrated the muscle fibers, the stronger and more solid the muscle.
An increase in muscle size, on the other hand, is achieved by performing a certain number of sets and reps of specific exercises in a way that increases not only the density of a muscle (the inner compactness of its fibers) but also its volume.
Example Of Progressive Resistance
Progressive resistance is your key to muscle density and metabolic enhancement through anaerobic training. You may have heard progressive resistance referred to as “progressive overload.” Same thing.
This is just the periodic introduction of additional stress to a weight lifting program. This is regardless of what form the added stress may take (either an increase in the “load” to which you subject your muscles in each set or a decrease in the duration of the rest period between sets).
- By way of example, suppose your start your bench press by lifting 100-pound weights.
- In no time at all, you’ll find that your arms, shoulders, and chest muscles have strengthened and become denser and that lifting 100 pounds is too easy.
- As a result, you’ll have to either add weight or reduce the rest period between sets in order to prevent your muscles from becoming too comfortable.
- You can either move up in terms of the amount of weight lifted (say to 105 or 110 pounds) or decrease the rest period between sets (say from thirty seconds to twenty-five or even twenty seconds).
As the weeks turn into months, you’ll keep adding weight at a rate of about five pounds per month or decreasing the duration of the rest period between sets by five seconds per month.
It’s time to alter your exercise routine (by choosing different exercises), when . . .
- You reach a point where your rest period is down to only ten seconds between sets
- Or you are unwilling to increase the amount of weight you’re lifting
Increasing Muscle Size
If your goals include increasing muscle size as well as muscle density, whether throughout your entire body or just in certain parts of your body, you can raise the amount of weight you lift in increments of ten pounds per month (rather than just five) without decreasing the rest period between sets. By making just that one modification in your weight lifting program, you will begin to add volume to your muscles.
Strength Training Goals
To reiterate: if you want to continue to make progress, you must progressively increase the amount of weight you lift or decrease the length of the break between sets.
Another point is that an increase in the number of reps will translate into an increase in strength. Some people believe they’re capable of gaining strength only by increasing the amount of weight they lift. Not so!
- Strength can also be enhanced by increasing the number of reps.
- Muscular endurance comes from taking shorter breaks between sets.
- Muscular density/metabolism enhancement comes from persistently working on improving muscle strength and/or muscular endurance.
Always Exercise In Proper Form
You should always be sure to do your exercises in proper form. After all, the key to maximum metabolic benefit in a weight lifting program lies not just in doing an exercise (regardless of style or form). The essential ingredient is to do the exercises correctly. So that you get the most out of each exercise you’ve chosen.
That’s one of the reasons why health clubs usually have mirrors located near or around their free-weight area. The mirrors are there so that, among other things, you can pay particular attention to your form.
- Your exercising motions should be clean and fluid and in a direct line with the muscle’s proper axis.
- If at all possible, you should not allow your line of exercise motion to stray.
- Pay close attention to maintaining good form from the first rep of the first set to the last rep of the final set.
- Never jerk or throw the weights around.
- Never create an unbalanced movement. (That is, you should never hold less weight in one hand than you hold in the other.)
- Whenever possible, work out with a training partner. (Someone who can assist you in your workouts and whom you can assist in return.)
Negative And Positive Resistance
Whenever you do any type of strength-training exercise, you’re really asking two different parts of your muscle to participate.
- The “positive” phase of the exercise is called concentric contraction. It takes place while the muscle is lifting a weight (either lifting the dumbbell in a bicep curl or elevating the bar in a bench press). The end of that motion is the point at which your arms are close to your chest (in the curl) or fully extended (in the case of the bench press).
- The other part is the “negative” phase of the exercise which is called the eccentric contraction. This is the phase that calls upon muscle resistance as you slowly return the weight to its starting position.
It’s just as important, if not more important and more physiologically demanding, to let the weight slowly return to the original position in the negative phase as it is to push or pull the weight, as the case may be, in the positive phase. Returning the weight slowly and with resistance on every repetition is important, because this is the phase that promotes greater flow of red blood cells to your muscles, which in turn builds greater strength.
Check If Your Form Is Correct
Of course, another way you’ll know your form is correct, in addition to using mirrors to check yourself as you exercise, is that you’ll feel warmth, some fatigue, and a “burning” feeling at the end of each set for each muscle group. If you don’t get this sensation, review your form and pay greater attention to what you see in the mirrors. They’re telling you something. Your form may be poor. If your form is poor, you may not be allowing a full complement of blood to reach your target muscles.
Though getting tired is not a sure sign that you’re doing an exercise correctly, either feeling lactic acid accumulate in your muscles or not experiencing fatigue is usually is a sure sign that you’re not doing it right.
In addition to lifting form, lifting speed has a major effect on how much blood moves to your target muscles. You might think that the faster you lift the weights the sooner you’ll notice great results, the opposite is true.
Although fast lifting creates a certain momentum, it doesn’t promote optimal blood flow to the muscle.
What does promote this blood flow is slower movement.
Slow lifting creates less internal muscle friction. And it requires a more even application of your muscle power through your range of motion.
You say you don’t believe me? Well, just try it.
- For example, try doing a bench press with a slow, even pressure.
- And do it with perfect form and no wavering.
- You’ll find it’s much more difficult than a quick pressing motion.
- The slower movement also generates a more rapid flow of blood to the muscle groups you are training.
- You might also unwittingly discover that too much speed has the undesirable effect of increasing your frequency of lifting-related injury.
How Fast Should I Lift Weights?
Your exercise trainer might recommend, as I do, taking one to two seconds for each lifting movement (the positive phase) and three to four seconds for each lowering movement (the negative phase).
Whatever your actual lifting speed, always remember to come back slower during the resistance phase with each and every repetition. All of which brings us back to proper form.
If you discover that the weight you’ve chosen to lift in a certain exercise is so heavy that you cannot maintain proper form and at the same time perform the negative phase slowly and in full control, you should lighten the weight until you can do it exactly as intended.
Far too many beginners pay attention only to the amount of the weight to be lifted, and not to the quality of the movement performed. Your muscles cannot know how much weight is on the bar or machine, but they will respond very well if you are not only using good, controlled form but also executing the return phase slowly and with the proper resistance.
It is very important to select at least one exercise for each major muscle group in order to promote well-balanced muscle development. Training only a few muscle groups, or training one particular muscle group more than the others, increases the risk of injury.
Another important element of strength training is exercise sequence. When performing a variety of weightlifting exercises, it is advisable to proceed from the larger muscle groups to the smaller muscle groups. This allows for optimal performance of the most demanding exercises at those times when you are feeling fresh and energetic and your fatigue levels are at their lowest.
Another reason for starting with the larger muscle groups, one that is often overlooked, is illustrated by the common example of training both back and biceps.
- Ordinarily, you would want to train your back first, since it is the larger muscle group of the two.
- So let’s say you’re doing the Rear Pull-Down.
- In that exercise, you are indirectly working your biceps, too, since both muscle groups are at work in the pulling motion.
- This means that your biceps will actually be warmed up and ready to train when you get to exercises that focus directly on them.
You will derive a similar benefit when you perform exercises that require pushing motions. Since they tend to involve use of the chest, shoulders, and triceps. By the time you’re done with your chest exercises, both your shoulders and your triceps will be warm and ready to train.
Of course, you might not always do your pulling motions (the ones with your back and biceps) on the same day as your pushing motions (the ones with your chest, shoulders, and triceps).
In fact, as you advance you will want to split up your exercise days. This is so that you train certain muscles on one day of the week and others on a different day. This topic will be further discussed in a section down below.
To Avoid Injury, Avoid Over-Training
Beginning weight-trainers are often a gung-ho group. Unfortunately, that’s one of the major reasons why so many of them drop out of a weight lifting program long before they’ve given themselves a chance to adjust to a healthful change in lifestyle.
Be sure to pay close attention to your body and to what it tries to tell you. You may well be over-training, if you ever find that you’re feeling . . .
- “burnt out”
- or wishing you could skip a workout
This is a common complaint of beginners.
Not providing your muscles with enough rest could very well hinder your progress.
Training the wrong muscle groups on consecutive days—or doing too many sets or exercises on the same muscle group—may also set you on the road to failure.
Remember, weightlifting temporarily “injures” the muscles that you’re training, and they need time to recover and grow.
Ordinarily, that rejuvenation process takes a couple of days. So the general watchword is: don’t exercise the same muscle group two days in a row.
Splitting Up Your Exercise Days
As you become slightly more advanced in your weight lifting program, you may find that splitting up your exercise days is more effective for you. For example . . .
- You might want a weekly routine that includes chest, shoulders, triceps, and abdominal muscles (abs for short) on Monday.
- Then on Tuesday you might switch your routine and exercise your back, legs, biceps, and abdominals/stomach muscles. (Note that you can train your abs on both of those training days. But then be sure to give your whole body a needed rest on Wednesday—you deserve it!)
- You could go back to the chest group, including chest, shoulders, triceps, and abdominal muscles, on Thursday.
- And on Friday you could again exercise your back, legs, biceps, and abs.
- Then you would rest over the weekend and start all over on Monday.
Listen To Your Body
Whatever weight lifting program you create, remember one thing: Listen to your body! If you’re over-training, your body will tell you. If that happens, take it easy. Allow your muscles to grow and strengthen at their pace. Do that instead of following some arbitrary schedule you’ve set up for yourself.
In no time at all, you’ll begin achieving spectacular results. And I’m not talking just about the results you can see: the shapelier body; the smooth, sculptured muscles; the tight, toned physique.
I’m talking about the high-speed metabolic system you’ve created that’s constantly burning up calories each morning and afternoon, and even while you sleep. It’s incredible, and so are the results you can obtain by undertaking the other important half of the metabolic-exercising duo: aerobic exercise >> Next Page