Is Your Workout Balanced?
Take a good look at your weight training routine and count the sets
for each muscle group? If you find that your sets per body part are
not balanced adjust your routine by evening out your sets. Also make
sure you have a variety of exercises for each muscle group. For example
if you are doing all press movements for chest, add some fly movements
and vary the incline or decline to work the upper, mid and lower chest
Split Your Routine
One of the keys of getting great results from your weight training program
is to vary your workout routine every few weeks. Try a split routine
working half your body one day and half the next. Split your routines
into upper and lower body routines or go with a more specialized split.
My favorite splits include legs, back & triceps or chest, shoulders
and biceps. Try different muscle variations every 8 to 12 weeks and
find out what works best for you.
Control The Resistance
"Engage" muscle when lifting weights by using slow, fluid, and controlled
movements through your range of motion. As a general rule use the 2-4
count; 2 counts when flexing the muscle and 4 counts while stretching
the muscle out and returning to your starting position. Contract or
"flex" the muscle you are working every repetition without using momentum
to push or pull the weight. Controlling the resistance builds quality
muscle while using momentum (quick or "jerky" movements) puts major
load on the joints and sets you up for injury down the road.
Abs Need Rest Too
Treat your abs like any other muscle group and allow them 48 hours of
recuperation between workouts (every other day). Although the abs are
dense muscles that can take a pretty good beating, training them every
day can be over-kill and will not allow them enough time to recuperate
and grow. So blast the abs during your workouts using a variety of moves
that hit every part of the stomach with a minimum of two sets per exercise.
Then give them a day to recuperate. Remember that no amount of ab work
will spot reduce fat off of your mid-section unless it is very intense
and aerobic (elevates your heart rate).
Two Weight Training Movements To Avoid
Here is the good news. In the past five years there are five times more
Americans lifting weights as a part of their exercise program. The bad
news is that gym injuries from weight training are up 35%. Poor weight
lifting form and technique seems to be to culprit. Avoid injury by avoiding
the top two ways people are getting injured lifting weights:
DO NOT perform lat pulldowns behind the head!
Lat pulls are great for the back if the bar is pulled down towards
the chest. Pulling the bar behind the head puts undue stress on
the shoulders and rotator cuff.
DO NOT perform leg extensions to full extension!
Leg extensions are great for the thighs(quadriceps) if you limit
your range of motion to 15 degrees from full extension at the top
of the movement and lower the leg until your upper and lower leg
are at a 90 degree angle. Locking your knees out when extending
puts major stress on the ACL and the knee joint.
Another great reason why women should not fear strength training
Westcott's research has shown that the average woman who strength trains
2 to 3 times a week for 8 weeks gains 1.75 pounds of muscle and loses
3.5 pounds of fat. Unlike men, women typically don't gain size like
men because they have 10 to 30 times less of the hormones that cause
Shot clock weight training
Add intensity and pace to your weight workouts by setting your stop
watch to beep every 30 seconds. When you finish a set, hit the timer
on your watch. Rest 60 - 90 seconds for larger muscles like legs, back
and chest and 30 - 60 seconds for smaller muscles like abs, biceps,
triceps and shoulders. When the buzzer goes off, put on your game face
and hit the next set. A great way to minimize your training time, keep
your momentum going and avoid idle gym chit-chat.