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Successful Resistance Training 101 2013 – 12 Days of Fitness: Day 9

December 16, 2013 0 Comments

(This is Part 9 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

weighttraining1As someone who has spent a lot of time in the gym, I can honestly say that no reality TV show has anything on the things I’ve seen in the weight room. There are those who think they own the gym and consequently there are those who don’t go in there because of them. The novice needn’t be intimidated or afraid though because there is a vast difference between those who think they own the joint and those who really know what they are doing. Of all the exercises that one can choose, nothing will strengthen and reshape the body more effectively than resistance training. For that reason, it’s not something to be taken lightly or time spent wasted with minimal or no results.

For Resistance Training To Be Successful….

  1. Use Proper Form – I’ve seen it all. Legs flailing, rounded backs, flared elbows, bouncing bars, etc. You aren’t doing yourself any favors using bad form. The greatest chance for injury occurs towards the end of the set when form begins to waver. Do yourself a favor and do a little research before attempting an exercise. Hire a trainer, read a book, etc.; just don’t make the mistake of trying to be so macho you injure yourself. It’s not how much you lift; it’s how you lift it.
  2. Don’t Compare to Others – I think a lot of the boneheaded mistakes people make in the weight room are ego related. They want to know how much you lifted. They’re afraid of people watching them work out. They’re afraid of doing something wrong, so they avoid it. They’re afraid of not looking very strong, so they sacrifice form for more weight on the bar. You are only in competition with yourself. Don’t compare your numbers to others. Resistance training is about personal development; there is no room for ego.
  3. Mix It Up – The body is a very adaptive machine. Do the same thing over and over again, and it will become very efficient at that movement. That sounds good, but not if you want to make progress. I used to think Mondays was international chest day because everyone would bench on Monday and with that, the same exact sequence of exercises, sets, reps, and weights. Motor neuron adaptations take place very quickly. A large portion of your strength gains are not only from muscle growth, but better motor neuron recruitment too. Change your routine up every few weeks.
  4. Take Time For Recovery – The real result of the workout comes from the recovery; the workout was just the catalyst. You grow when you rest, not when you work out. Working out tears down your muscles so that you can build them up bigger and stronger while you’re resting. If you don’t allow enough time between workouts, you’ll be limiting your strength potential come workout time.
  5. Use Compound Movements – Compound exercises involve the movements of several joints. They allow for maximum muscle fiber and motor neuron recruitment. I see this a lot in what I call “charmers”. They work their chest and arms (biceps) only with using the bench press as their sole compound exercise. They don’t do squats, deadlifts, etc. so they have nicely developed upper bodies supported on toothpicks. For 90% of fitness individuals, compound exercises will be all they need to be successful. Isolation exercises are fun but not completely necessary in most cases.
  6. Work Out With Intensity By using compound exercises, you’re already on the right path towards boosting your intensity. Recruiting a large majority of muscles forces you to work harder. In doing so, you stimulate the release of all kinds of favorable hormones that will help you build muscle and lose fat. Another even simpler way to boost your intensity is to take less time between sets and exercises. I can’t tell you the number of people over the years who take credit for spending three hours in the gym for doing 20 minutes worth of work.
  7. Chart Your Progress – You need to provide a stimulus to your muscles if you want them to grow. More weight on the bar, an extra rep, or more work in a given time, all are ways to make progress. If you went to the gym and lifted 135lbs for 10 reps, and then did the same exact thing the next workout, or even 3 workouts later, why would your body think it needs to adapt? It already has the strength it needs to perform that activity. If you want to grow, you need to better your last workout.
  8. Man (Woman) Up – If you want the result and you’re going to invest in the time and energy it takes in the gym, you better understand that your nutrition is the biggest determinant of your success, not your exercise. Building muscle requires calories, and unless you’re eating an excess of them, you aren’t going to grow much at all. And no plastic tub of powder is going to be the only solution.

See you tomorrow for Day 10 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

 

 

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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