Rush’s Beginners Guide To Workout Routines
Okay, as i$e has his cutting guide and HOL is doing a bulking guide, I’m doing this as a kind of reference for beginners in designing a routine that works for them. Some may not have access to gym equipment etc so I will cover some exercises that require no equipment at all as well.
Basic Training Principles
SPORT - Specific, Progression, Overload, Reversibility, Tedium
FITT - Frequency, Intensity, Time, Type
These are the 2 basic acronyms you get taught in high school PE, and they work well to enable you to easily plan out your workouts in order to reach your goals.
– training must be matched to the needs of the sport/activity to improve fitness in the body parts the sport/activity uses.
– start slowly and gradually increase the amount of exercise and keep overloading. Ie if your goal is to run 20km, start small and work your way up.
- fitness can only be improved by training harder than you normally do. Increase the intensity to avoid plateaus.
– any adaptation that takes place as a result of training will be reversed when you stop training ie if you don’t use it you lose it.
In planning a programme, use the FITT principles to add the detail:
- decide how often to train.
- choose how hard to train.
- decide for how long to train.
- decide which methods of training to use.
When most people start out, or before they start out they say stuff like “I want to lose fat” or “I want to be fitter”. These goals may be the final result of a program, but it is important to use SMART goals to give you something to focus on, to achieve and something that is measureable. So instead of saying “I want to be fitter” you can have a goal of running 10km or bench pressing 75kg etc.
ACSM Position Statement
The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) has various position statements that sum up the research that has been done up until that point on a various number of things. This is basically a summary of their position statement entitled “Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise” - http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fu...loping.26.aspx
• Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
• Exercise recommendations can be met through 30-60 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (five days per week) or 20-60 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise (three days per week).
• One continuous session and multiple shorter sessions (of at least 10 minutes) are both acceptable to accumulate desired amount of daily exercise.
• Gradual progression of exercise time, frequency and intensity is recommended for best adherence and least injury risk.
• People unable to meet these minimums can still benefit from some activity.
• Adults should train each major muscle group two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment.
• Very light or light intensity is best for older persons or previously sedentary adults starting exercise.
• Two to four sets of each exercise will help adults improve strength and power.
• For each exercise, 8-12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 repetitions improve strength in middle-age and older persons starting exercise, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
• Adults should wait at least 48 hours between resistance training sessions.
• Adults should do flexibility exercises at least two or three days each week to improve range of motion.
• Each stretch should be held for 10-30 seconds to the point of tightness or slight discomfort.
• Repeat each stretch two to four times, accumulating 60 seconds per stretch.
• Static, dynamic, ballistic and PNF stretches are all effective.
• Flexibility exercise is most effective when the muscle is warm. Try light aerobic activity or a hot bath to warm the muscles before stretching.
• Neuromotor exercise (sometimes called “functional fitness training”) is recommended for two or three days per week.
• Exercises should involve motor skills (balance, agility, coordination and gait), proprioceptive exercise training and multifaceted activities (tai ji and yoga) to improve physical function and prevent falls in older adults.
• 20-30 minutes per day is appropriate for neuromotor exercise.
Now flexibility and aerobic exercise is fairly straightforward, not to many people have a problem in designing a program to help them there. Resistance training on the other hand results in a myriad of questions so that’s what I’ll be focusing on in the rest of this post.
Weight Training - Reps and sets
Now that you’ve set yourself a goal, and you understand how you’re going to progress to that goal, you need to develop a routine/program in order for you to reach that goal. Reps (the amount of times you repeat a lift) and sets (how many groups of reps) are important as the amount you do should reflect the goal you’re setting for yourself.
To put it in basics;
Increase strength - low reps, heavy weight, take your time in between sets. 1-8 reps x 3-5 sets.
Increase power - low reps, heavy weight, lift quickly, take your time in between sets. 1-8 reps x 3-5 sets.
Increase strength + size -medium reps, heavy weight, take your time in between sets. 8-12 reps x 3-5 sets.
Increase endurance - high reps, lower weight, less time in between sets. 12-20 reps x 3-5 sets.
Now that’s just a pretty general guideline, and it is a continual scale so just because you lift higher reps won’t mean you don’t get any strength benefits and visa versa for lifting low reps, you will still gain some endurance benefits.
So you’re got your goal, how often you’re going to be training, how hard you’re training and how many reps/sets you’re looking at doing, now you have to work on getting a routine that will incorporate your knowledge of training into a way that will work for you.
Workout A - Push, Pull, Legs
This is a fairly common split, and as the name suggests on day 1 you do exercises involving pushing, day 2 is pulling, day 3 is focusing on legs. (when I say day 1, 2, 3 thats workout days not calendar days)
Workout B - 2 day split (upper, lower, rest/cardio, upper, lower, rest/cardio)
You split your workout into upper body exercises, and lower body with a rest day or a cardio day in between to allow you to recover.
Workout C - 3 day full body split
As it says, you do a full body workout, 3 days a week with at least 1 day in between workouts
Workout D - 4 day split.
This is a fairly common split for those who are a little more advanced. A sample would be day 1 - chest/triceps, day 2 - legs/abs, day 3 - back/biceps, day 4 - shoulders, abs.
Now there are far more splits than these 4 but these are a nice starting/reference point. You don’t have to use one of these methods but be aware that muscles are rarely used individually and multi-joint exercises are the gold standard (eg exercises like deadlifts and squats, which use more than one muscle group)
Types of exercises
So you’ve got your goal, reps/sets, routine all down, now you can pick which exercises are best suited for your desired outcome. If you have access to a gym you will notice some people using free weights, some on machines, some doing bodyweight exercises etc. Which is the best? Answer: both free weights and weight machines each have their advantages and disadvantages. This is a straight copy and paste from - http://www.answerfitness.com/91/free...nswer-fitness/
if its too long, skip to the bottom and I did a very quick summary.
The Advantages of Weight Machines
Weight machines are often the first choice of equipment for people who are new to weight and strength training. And this is for good reason.
Weight machines by design encourage good form, because they limit the range of motion to the specified exercise you are performing. They also isolate the specific muscle group you are targeting by disengaging secondary muscle groups that normally are called upon stabilize the body during performance of an exercise.
If you’ve never performed a bench press (a free weight exercise), for example, you may not be familiar with how to align your arms properly in relation to your body in order to perform the exercise effectively and with minimal risk of injury. A chest press machine, on the other hand, will ensure that your arms are positioned correctly and will give you a sense for how the movement should be performed.
By starting out on weight machines, you can work on get a feel for the exercise, which can then be applied to a free weight workout.
Machine weights also tend to allow you to use more resistance, because you aren’t limited by the smaller (and often weaker) stabilizer muscles that are called upon to balance a free weight. This can help you make bigger gains in strength, and can help beginners establish a more solid base before moving on to more challenging free weight movements.
The Disadvantages of Weight Machines
The primary disadvantage of weight machines is that they don’t engage stabilizer muscles or develop core strength and conditioning as well as free weights.
Your “core” is the chain of muscles that stabilize the spine, pelvis and shoulder and provide a solid foundation for movement in the legs and arms. When you use machines, you don’t need to engage these muscles to balance your body. Over time, this can lead to weaknesses or muscle imbalances which can make you more vulnerable to injury. It can also create aesthetic imbalances in muscle size or definition.
Weight machines aren’t as effective in developing the smaller muscles and connective tissue that your body uses to balance resistance — for example, the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons that help stabilize your shoulder. Because free weights require you to balance the weight during the movement, they can help you strengthen these critical muscle groups.
Finally, because weight machines isolate as specific group of muscles, your body doesn’t require as much energy to perform them as when you perform compound, free weight exercises that call on more than one muscle group to execute the exercise. So from a fat and calorie burning perspective, free weights require more energy which can help with fat loss.
The Advantages of Free Weights
Free weights such as dumbbells and barbells offer more flexibility and options in terms of movement and the different types of exercises you perform.
Many free weight exercises are considered “compound exercises.” A compound exercise is one that involves movement at more than one joint. This means it engages additional muscle groups beyond the primary one that is being trained.
For example, when you perform a dumbbell chest press on a bench, you engage not only your chest, but also your shoulders, abs, lower back and even legs to balance and stabilize yourself during the exercise. When you perform a chest press on a machine, the equipment does all of the stabilization and balancing for you, and isolates the movement so that it’s primarily limited to the muscle being trained.
Free weights also do a better job of accommodating the unique physical quirks that everyone has. No two people are built alike, and weight machines — because their motion is fixed — can force people into movements that are uncomfortable.
Free weights, on the other hand, allow you to make very subtle self-adjustments in the movement and your positioning, which increase your comfort and actually allow you to execute the exercise with better results.
This flexibility is especially important for people who have experienced injuries in the past, since machine weights can cause them to move the weight in a plane that aggravates their condition. Overhead shoulder press machines are infamous for this type of thing.
Free weights also allow you to try out different variations on an exercise. Because you control the positioning of your body and the plane of movement, you can target the muscles differently depending on how you perform the exercise. And because you are calling on stabilizer muscles during the exercise, many people find that free weight training gives them better overall muscle development and definition than when using weight machines alone.
The Disadvantages of Free Weights
There are two primary disadvantages to using free weights.
The first is that people who are new to weight or resistance training may not know how to perform an exercise with proper form. Because free weights don’t force a plane of motion, people can develop bad form habits more easily with free weights than with machines.
This is why it’s often beneficial to practice a bit on a weight machine to get a feel for the exercise before trying the free weight version. It’s also a good idea to have a personal trainer or member of the gym staff show you how to perform an exercise with free weights. They can make sure you are using good form and executing the exercise properly. Failure to do this can cause injury or muscle imbalances.
Free weight also limit the amount of weight you can use. This can be a good thing, because it lessens the chance that you’ll lift too heavy for your current conditioning, but it can also hamper progress, especially for more experienced lifters.
What About Cable Weight Machines?
Cable weight machines can actually offer some of the benefits of both free weights and machines.
Unlike fixed-motion weight machines, cable machines allow you to adjust the range and plane of motion much like free weights. They also require you to stabilize the resistance during the motion, which is excellent for strengthening smaller stabilizer muscles and connective tissue and building more functional coordination between muscle groups.
Cable machines also have advantages over both machine weights and free weights because they encourage constant tension on the muscle through the entire range of motion. This can translate into better strength gains and improved muscle size and development.
Tl;dr - free weights work on stabilisers, don’t lock you into a position, more functional strength gains. Machines, good for beginners, can provide a solid base of strength and enable you to isolate muscle groups.
I must emphasise the importance of proper technique. If you are unsure of how to perform an exercise, then ask a personal trainer or even someone at the gym. Some people don’t like helping others, some are more than happy to give a few pointers.
Next post - Sample workouts and a general overview of exercises for chest, back, triceps, biceps, shoulders, legs, abs, and bodyweight exercises. Might chuck in some rehab stuff that i prescribe for clients just incase anyone is suffering from back pain or something serious preventing them from engaging in physical activity.