Okay, this thread will be for all the newbies or people that want to learn some new things about how to set up a training routine and keep your program moving in the right direction.
"The body doesn't know muscles. It only knows movements."
"If you are still training body parts and not movements, you have missed a signifigant amount of information written on the subject of resistance training in the past 10 years."
"Write programs. NOT workouts."
Three great quotes. Three smart guys. Somethings to think about.
I'll try and keep this as simple as possible so that everyone can understand it. There is so much stuff to go into with writing a training program and I could write a book about it but I will outline basics and then hopefully people will ask questions and we can fill in the blanks.
Okay, were to begin. The main things to consider when coming up with a training program:
2) training split (how many days per week? Upper/lower? total body? push/pull/leg?)
3) exercise selection
4) sets and reps (volume)
5) rest interval*
6) rep tempo*
* both of those will go back to what your goals are *
So lets take it one by one....
1) Goals- pretty self explanatory.
2) training split- Given the quotes above obviously I am not going to tell anyone to train one body part per day. Is it bad? Maybe not for a few weeks as a change of pace or a way to increase volume (acclimation) for a short period of time before dropping back and lifting heavier (intensification).
In general there are a few splits I like:
- Total body 3 days per week with 1 day of rest between each workout.
- day 1- upper, day 2- lower, day 3- off, day 4- upper, day 5- lower, day 6 and 7- off
- day 1- upper push (chest, shoulder, tri), day 2- legs, day 3- upper pull (back and bi). With a day of rest inbetween workouts.
- day 1- upper, day 2- lower, day 3- total body. With a day of rest inebween workouts.
Obviously there are a lot of other ways to break things up. As a newbie the main thing you want to do is pick something you can stick to and make sure that you focus on learning and using good technique for all exercises.
3) Exercise selection- efficiency is an important thing in the weight room. Workout smarter not longer. The exercises you want to stick to are going to be main compound lifts (exercises which use multiple joints) as they will recruit the greatest amount of muscle fiber to get the work done. Some of my favorites:
upper push- bench (flat, incline, decline. barbell and DB), shoulder press (DB and BB), dips
upper pull- pulldowns (various grips), pull ups (various grips), bent over rows (barbells and DBs. Various grips), cable row, face pulls, shrugs (Db or BB)
lower body quad dominant- squat (back and front. no smith machine), lunges, bulgarian squat, one legged squat, multidirectinal lunges
lower body hip dominant- deadlifts, Romanian deadlift, Straight Legged deadlift, trap bar deadlifts, step ups, hyperextensions, glute ham raises, reverse hypers
with these exercises and all their varieties and progressions you can put together years of workouts. Be creative.
4) Sets and Reps- As a newbie you really need to allow tendon strength (connective tissue strength) to build up as it tends to gain strength at a much slower rate then muscle. I recommend taking the first few weeks of your training and using sets of 10-15 reps and reallt focusing on the form of every exercises. As a newbie anything you do will make you grow and get stronger. You can only go up! After you have been training for a solid amount of time you will have to get more creative with your program but right out of the gate you can keep it simple. 10-15 reps x 2-3 sets per exercises and really hammer the form. After those first few weeks you can begin to increase the intensity and lift a little heavier. Just build up slowly and don't rush yourself into an injury. Studies on rep ranges suggest that reps 1-5 are best for strength gains, 6-12 for hypertrophy (muscle growth), and 12-15(20) for endurance. So, after those first preliminary weeks of training be sure to choose your rep ranges wisely based on your goals.
5)Rest interval- In general the amount of weight you are lifting is going to dictate your (a) rep ranges and (b) your rest interval. For example, if you are lifting very very heavy chances are you wont get to many reps and in order to complete another set you will need a longer period of rest. It is recommended that for strength a rest interval of 2-5min is best, for hyerptrophy 60-90sec and for endurance 30sec or less. Ofcourse this is not the be all end all. As your fitness level increases you may find that you recover quick enough between sets and wont need as much rest. For example, some can lift at high intensities (heavy weight) on shorter rest invertvals, say 60-90. Again, a lot of this will depend on your goals and what you are trying to accomplish.
6) rep tempo is something that should not be overlooked. I don't like to dictate the concentric (the shortening or up phase of the lift) tempo just because the human body is built for speed and purposly slowing down the concntric will send improper signals to the CNS allowing it to think it is okay to move slowly. The eccentric tempo, if your goal is hypertrophy, would be a good thing to try and slow down and control. It has been showen in studies that slowing down the speed of the eccentric can lead to better gains in hypertrophy. This is due to the fact that during the eccentric (the lowering or down phase of the lift) a greater amount of trauma can be placed on the tissue. The isometric (the static moment of the lift between the eccentric and the concentric) can also be beneficial to those looking for a greater amount of hypertrophy as holding the weight in place for a moment will (a) require you to recruit more motor units then if you were just to begin the up phase of the lift since you have to hold and stabalize the load and (b) require you to use more strength on the up phase as you are putting an end to the potential enregy being stored in the muscle during the eccentric portion of the lift thus delaying the elastic energy. A tempo for hyerptrophy on the bench press might be something like 4/3/0, eccentric,isometric, concentric. So that is 4 seconds on the way down, 3 second hold at the chest and then press.
Hope some of that makes sense to people and as always ask questions and try and come up with a routine based on these guidlines and post it so that we can help you make it better.
also, take a look at Cowpimps training routine thread:
here is a good article written by DaleMabry on conjugate training:
a link to a great human anatomy textbook: