Strength training: my training once a week twice a week
If you are, or want to be, a bodybuilder or competitive athlete, this might work for you, but I’m targeting the hobbyist or beginning athlete.
Many people who want to “exercise” avoid strength training with weights or other resistance training because they feel that it is too difficult and that they will have to, as my father once said, “work to death.” In reality, while it is true that you get what you put in from exercise, there are ways to do it without paying gym fees, lengthy workouts, or a “no pain, no gain” philosophy.
It is true that if you ARE training for competition, as an athlete or bodybuilder, you may have to endure a lot of pain and sacrifice to reach your goal. However, if you are a desk-bound executive, a working mom, or a stay-at-home mom, you can do good quality strength training in just a few minutes a day.
By the way, remember that a good general fitness exercise routine will also include a cardiovascular (aerobic) component. While you COULD split the two, you can get a lot done in a short amount of time – less than half an hour a day, five days a week – by combining them.
For example, I walk around on my treadmill for about five minutes to get my heart rate up and my muscles warm up. Then I do some strength training, a basic exercise, and then about five more minutes on the treadmill. I do this for about 20-30 minutes a day, five days a week.
And I feel great afterwards and my wife gets tired of hearing me say how much I am looking forward to the next day’s training.
Did I mention that I am 67 years old and have very bad osteoarthritis?
Now one thing that I can’t tell you in the following instructions, or even what I wrote above, is how intensely to exercise or what weight to use for an exercise. YOU will have to “exercise” some judgment on that and, especially at the beginning of this program, be wrong at times. You may feel that a certain weight feels “good” at first only to realize halfway through the workout … or the next day … that you should have chosen a lighter weight. It is better to start with a weight “too light” and gradually increase, than to start too high and injure yourself or simply feel that there is too much effort or pain involved.
My once a week twice a week strength training is based on some pretty solid exercise principles.
1. A muscle needs to rest for at least 48 hours after exercise to strengthen and repair itself.
2. High reps with low weight (resistance) are best for getting fit and burning fat.
3. Most “muscles” need to be worked from a couple of different angles.
4. Some muscles don’t need as much work as others.
5. A “muscle” only needs to be trained for strength once a week!
I put the word “muscle” in quotes at n. 3 and no. 5 because when we think and talk about muscles, as in “I exercised my biceps,” we overlook the fact that many muscles can have two or more components. , often referred to as “heads”. Take the biceps muscle for example: it has two heads (bi = two cep = head) and a bodybuilder will have to do different exercises to fully work both.
The common person who exercises for health and fitness reasons does not have to go to the extremes of a professional bodybuilder, but they and we are going to use the same principle. We will train each muscle from a couple of different angles. That is how …
For the sake of discussion, let’s say my training week is Monday through Friday. I want at least two days of total rest in my exercise routine. That would be Saturday and Sunday in this example. With the training plan that I am going to outline, you can also do your rest days Wednesday and Saturday, or any other schedule … that’s up to you.
Okay, now that I have a break from formal exercise built in, and you shouldn’t just sit in front of the TV on your “off” days … go do something … I need to incorporate that 48 hour break mentioned In 1. Let’s put the # 3 also while we’re at it. So if I do a chest exercise, like dumbbells (one angle) or a bench press (another angle), I’ll do them a few days apart … let’s say Monday and Thursday. Upper back muscles can be worked with lying down jerseys and rowing … on different days a couple of days apart. The thighs can be worked with squats and lunges, again a few days apart.
Oh, # 4? Your arms. A bodybuilder will work his arms from all kinds of angles because to compete they have to produce certain effects. You want to be able to play softball on the weekends, carry the groceries, and have strong arms. So, do a couple of tricep exercises, let’s say a press and a tricep extension … with rest days in between, of course, and do some curls. If you’re bench pressing and rowing, your biceps and triceps (in front of and behind your arms) will work a lot. Focus on your upper chest, upper back, and thighs.
Do your first exercise and then your second exercise without resting. Then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and do another set of each. Start with a 60-second break and gradually work your way down to 30. If you find two difficult at first, stretch it to 90 seconds. If it is still too difficult, you may need to lighten the resistance you are using.
Start with a couple of sets of 10 reps and gradually increase the reps to 20 and increase the sets to three. Once you can comfortably work at that level for a couple of weeks, take the weight off (resistance). Think “five pounds” in total. If you are using dumbbells, it will be a 2 1/2 pound increase on each dumbbell. When resistance increases, decrease reps and build again. If it just feels “too hard”, go back to your previous level and stay there for a couple more weeks and then try to get back up.
So, do two exercises a day, work specific muscle groups a few days apart from a different angle, don’t work the same muscle groups on the same day, and give yourself two rest days a week.
Do I have the idea?
There are many exercises and many exercise equipment, so try different ones, find what works for you, and go with them. I personally have a set of adjustable dumbbells and a bench. That is my gym.
No good exercise routine lacks something for the core. Most people think of “crunch” when they think of working their core. However, the core area contains several different muscle groups and these must be targeted differently. I do a different basic exercise, low reps (10-12), high sets (4-6), every day I exercise. One day I do normal sit-ups. They work the upper rectus abdominis muscles (six pack for you). The next day it’s the obliques, then the lower abs, then the transverse abdominis, and then the entire rectus abdominis.
THE GREAT FINAL
So, you start off with some cardio, just to warm up. About five minutes will do. Then do your two strength exercises, doing a set made up of both exercises in a row and then resting before doing the next set. Then do your basic workout for the day and finish with a little more cardio … at least five minutes. Then a little later in the week, hit the same muscles again, but from a different angle with a different exercise.