So far we have examined the myths of weight lifting for women, the benefits of weight lifting on the mind and body, and how weight lifting can aid in athletic performance. To close out this series I would like to discuss how to put it all together and actually incorporate strength training into your weekly routine. Here is everything you need to put together the optimal weight training program!
In order to successfully create a weight training routine you need to first assess your goals. What is the main objective you want to achieve? Of course, this can vary greatly depending on the individual. For this reason we can combine goals into two categories: looks and performance. People who fall under the category of looks have some type of goal pertaining to the way their body looks; building muscle, losing fat, getting a six-pack, toning up their arms, etc. People who fall under the category of performance have some type of goal pertaining to the way their body performs; improving running speed, jumping higher, building strength, etc. Your training routine will be based upon your individual goal.
It’s important to have a general and basic understanding of the major muscle groups in the body when training with weights. This knowledge will help you to understand which exercises work which muscle group, as well as how many times per week each muscle group should be worked…which we will be getting to next. The major muscle groups to consider while resistance training are the shoulders, back, chest, biceps, triceps, abdominals, and legs (including calves). Now let’s take a look at how many times we should work each of these muscles per week.
Training frequency is the amount of times each muscle group is worked each week. There are three types of training frequencies. A once per week training frequency is when each muscle gro
up is worked once per week.This is ideal for people who want to maintain their current fitness level, without any goals of
build muscle, strength, or changing their appearance. A twice per week training frequency is when each muscle group is worked twice per week. This is ideal for intermediate and advanced trainees with any type of goal. A three times per week training frequency is when each muscle group is worked three times per week and is ideal for beginners with any type of goal.
Types of Resistance Training
There are three different types of resistance training exercises one may engage in: free weight exercises, body weight exercises, and machine exercises. Free weight and bodyweight exercises both allow you to engage in completely natural movements, as well as works the abdominals, other muscles, and is ideal for gym and home use. Machine exercises on the other hand, are known as isolation exercises, as they target the specific muscle being worked. They are not, however, a functional type of exercise so other muscles aren’t engaged, nor are the movement patterns natural. So, how do you know which type of exercise is right for you?
If your goal is performance related (e.g., building strength, improving speed, etc.) then your routine should consist mostly of free weight and body weight exercise, with machines kept to a very minimum and possibly none. If your goal is looks related (e.g., improve body composition, get ‘toned,’ lose fat, etc.) all three types of exercises work, but again, the best bet is to use free weights and body weights as the majority of the workout, but machines are a completely fine alternative.
Now, with all of this information in front of you, you’re ready to go out and train those muscles. I hope, through this series, that I was able to inspire some of you to add strength training into your routine in order to experience the amazing benefits it will bring you, inshallah.