Friday, March 22, 2013

Starters Strength Routine

A few weeks ago I wrote about the need to start somewhere on your fitness.  The two part series started out with the basics of easing into physical activity and eating healthy.  You can review them here:

If you want to take it to the next level, then I would recommend a strength training routine.  For this post, I am only going to focus on strength training.  I will not be covering nutrition or cardiovascular conditioning.  I will, however, mention that strength training, cardio and healthy eating are the trifecta to getting physically fit and improving overall well being.  I will cover specific ways to train for cardiovascular improvement and different ways to improve on your eating habits in future posts.

You may have read or seen workout sessions that include an arms day, a legs day, etc.  These are what are referred to as "split workouts".  I'm not a huge fan of split workouts for strength gains with one exception which I will mention later on.  What I recommend is doing total body workouts.  This means that you make sure you hit all of your body's muscle groups in one session.  You achieve this by doing what are referred to as compound movements.  Compound movements are any movements that involve multiple joints and/or muscle groups.  For instance, the barbell bench press involves your shoulders and your elbows.  It also targets your chest (pecs) and triceps muscles.  Not only do compound movements target more muscle groups, but by doing so, it actually burns more calories during your workout.  Exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions are not considered compound movements due to the fact that they only involve a single joint (elbow) and you are specifically targeting only one muscle or a small muscle group.

So, with that in mind, your focus should be on one compound exercises that target your legs, chest, back and core.  You can also think of targeting muscles in terms of legs, a pushing exercise, a pulling exercise and core.  The following is an example of what I do in a typical strength conditioning week

Day 1

  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Barbell or Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  • Wide Grip Pullups

Day 2

  • Squats
  • Barbell Row
  • Pushups
  • Facepull (Cable Row with rope attachment towards the face)

Notice that I try and hit at least the legs, a push and a pulling exercise on each day.  If you are doing the exercises with proper form (i.e. with a tight core throughout the lift), then your core is also worked as well.

I also recommend that you go heavy on at least the Bench Press, Deadlift, Squat, Barbell Row and Shoulder Press.  I typically do 5 sets of 5 repetitions with 3 minutes of rest between sets.  Only lift as much weight as you can while keeping good form.  You will injure yourself if you try and lift too much weight with bad form.  Take it slow.  You will start to learn what limit you can push yourself with out hurting yourself as you accumulate time and experience.

Keep in mind, with all of the advice above that you must remain consistent in your training in order to see results.  If you do not workout on a regular basis, then you will not see the results that you would expect to see.  Persist!

I mentioned earlier that I did not like splits.  However, if you must do a split, then do a upper body routine one day and then a lower body routine the next.  Still keep doing total body exercises during this split.

A final note for any ladies reading this post:  This is the number one way you will achieve that level of fitness and the body you have been wanting.  This will not make you bulky or manly looking.  Women simply do not have enough testosterone in their body for that to happen.  What you will achieve is a fantastic body that is capable and athletic.

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1 comment:

  1. This is a great post--total body strength workouts are functional and effective. In addition to burning a lot of calories during the workout, you also burn a few extra AFTER you workout due to post workout oxygen consumption. Thanks for posting this!!