Deciding to embark upon a weight training program can be very daunting for the beginner. In weight training opinion is always very divided and strong. It can therefore be very difficult to determine who is giving the best advice and who is right or wrong.
If there is one thing I can guarantee you, it is that those who constantly seek perfection and never attempt to put anything into practice out of fear of being wrong or less than perfect will always get no results, while those who are less concerned about perfection and more concerned about simply getting in there and having a go, will always get some results. And the results they do get, and the things they learn along the way, all help to build the foundation for gradual improvement.
What I’m trying to say is, don’t develop paralysis through fear of being wrong or less than perfect – a pick up on the practices which make the most sense to you and immediately begin trying them.
Therefore, in this article rather then give you detailed information on exercises and programs I will give you a rough guideline on what to look out for, what to consider, and the things you absolutely must know in order to be successful in weight training.
In order to make things as clear as possible for you, I will split this article up into the three key components of any successful way lifting program. The three components are: lifting, diet and rest.
A good lifting program will ensure that at the very least all major muscle groups are trained a least once see a week. Each body part should be given at least 72 hours to recuperate before being worked again. However, it is sometimes inevitable that there will be some overlap and that some muscles which have already been worked directly end up being involved again in another exercise during the 72 hour recovery period. The key is minimizing this.
It is generally recommended that the natural trainee (i.e.: steroid free) train no more than four times a week. Personally, I like to train three times a week Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Before embarking upon any kind of weight lifting program it is imperative to know exactly what your goals are. Of course, taking part in any kind of resistance training will help to improve muscle strength as well as muscle size, but there can be serious limitations on your progress if you don’t go about things in the right way. For instance, in order to make size gains and strength gains, you will need to constantly and progressively add resistance in the form of more weight. Simply doing more repetitions of the same weight will not infinitely equate to more strength and size gains.
Also, there are optimum amounts of repetitions for strength or size and for achieving a mixture of both. That is why it is important to know what your goals are before training at all, so you can choose a program and training methods which will get you to your goals quicker. For example, low repetitions of one to five are primarily for strength and not size although you will gain some size using them. On the other hand, repetitions of six to twelve are more optimal for size but some strength gains will certainly accompany them, although the actual poundage being trained with is bound to be significantly less, and the trainee less capable of producing the sort of raw strength of someone who trains primarily for strength.
Whichever repetition and set ranges you decide to use in your training, it is important that you find it very challenging to a complete each set – especially the end repetitions of the very last set. If you find yourself breezing through your training without your capabilities being pushed to their maximum then you are training too light and your strength, size or strength and size gains will be less than optimal – or will not progress at all.
Diet is where most people fall foul. It can be very complicated in the way it is presented so I’ll try to make it a simple for you as I can. On the most basic level it all comes down to calories. In order to gain size of any sort (be that muscle, fat or both) you need to eat more calories than your body would normally need in a sedentary state. It is simply a case of energy in versus energy out – if you burn more energy than you are taking in then you will lose some kind of body mass be it fat or muscle or both. However, if you take in more than you burn some kind of energy storage will take place – in a sedentary individual this will be mostly fat storage. And, in an individual who is doing weight training this should overwhelmingly be muscle growth with fat gains being kept to a minimum.
Now, where it gets more involved is macronutrients. Macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fats. In the diet of any healthy individual a good balance of all three of these macronutrients should be present. It therefore stands to reason that somebody looking to gain significant amounts of muscle mass would need the same macronutrients – only more of them.
In weight training when you eat is equally as important as what you eat. Ideally, in order to maintain a constant state of growth and repair in your muscles you need to be eating every three hours and each meal should include protein.
It is also a well-known fact the most important meals of the day in a weight trainees diet are breakfast which will be the first meal you have taken in, in around seven to eight hours since you have been asleep and also the post-work out meal when your body is at its worst state of repair and desperately needing nutrients to begin repairing the damage before further muscle breakdown occurs.
As a rule of thumb, a person should look to eat between one and 2 g of protein per pound of body weight each and every day. Although there are a variety of protein sources including both vegetable and animal, the only sort of proteins which you should concern yourself with are the ones which contain all essential amino acids AKA complete proteins.
The best complete proteins include: eggs, milk, whey, beef, fish, cheese and chicken.
People are not robots. The demands placed on a person’s body through a rigorous training regime require that substantial and thorough rest is gotten in order for the body to recuperate and grow fully.
Of course, optimum periods of rest should be included and factored into a well-made muscle building program but, like I say, people are not robots and just because a program says you need X amount of rest it is not gospel: you need to use some common sense of your own to determine whether your training is progressing or regressing and if you feel that you have substantial energy or are feeling fatigued etc.
Too many people blindly follow instructions laid out for them without listening to their bodies and this is the biggest mistake a trainee can make. You should take rest whenever you need it regardless of what the piece of paper in front of you says.
Rest is important for two reasons. The first reason is for every physical activity you do outside of your weight training regime you are burning up valuable calories which otherwise would have been using to repair your muscles and grow them – and if you aren’t careful this can leave you in a calorie deficit where no growth will be made and you may even lose some size and strength. Also, the muscles are desperately trying to repair during the rest periods of your program. They cannot repair at optimum rates if you are constantly breaking them down again. This will result in overtraining, and overtraining should be avoided at all costs.
Well, I hope that this article has informed you of some of the most important principles in weight training. Although not exhaustive, at least you now know what to keep in mind when you are looking to build or find a ready-made program to follow.