Cost To Build Football Gym Weight Room All In One How to Choose the Right Weightlifting Routine

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How to Choose the Right Weightlifting Routine

Resistance training exercise, or weightlifting, is critical to achieving your goals. Research shows that a combination of weight training and cardio sheds more pounds and boosts metabolism than cardio alone. This is largely because you burn many more calories per day for every drop of fat that you replace with lean muscle fiber. In addition to weight loss benefits, resistance training gives you higher bone density, a more coordinated and better functioning collection of muscles and joints, and better agility and balance. Furthermore, athletes can use weightlifting to improve strength capacity, reduce injury potential, and cross-train with sport specificity.

Unfortunately, the number of weight training “routines” that exist in magazines and on gym walls can be intimidating and confusing, and what works best for your next-door neighbor or marathon-running friend may not be your body’s cup of tea. So how do you choose what is best for your personal goals? I’m going to describe four basic and popular lifting methods and then help you decide which one to choose based on your personal needs.

1. Body split training

This style of training involves dividing the body into several “groups” of muscles and working those muscles on certain days of the week – for example, a 5-day split would look like this:

Monday: Chest/Back/Abs

Tuesday: Shoulders/Biceps/Triceps

Wednesday: Quads/Calves

Thursday: Shoulders/Abs

Friday: Hamstrings/Low Back

This training style is very popular with the bodybuilding crowd, as it allows a person to focus on a specific muscle group and work those muscles to exhaustion. With proper rest, this leads to much bigger and defined muscles. Sets can be as high as 10 sets per exercise, and repetitions fall anywhere in the range of 8-20. Rest periods can be as short as 10 seconds and as long as 5 minutes. Strategies include back-to-back sets, pyramiding up or down repetitions and/or weight, pre-fatigue, bouncing, super-slow, negatives, and many other tricks in the field of bodybuilding. If you just want to “big and cut”, this is a good approach. The problem with this style of lifting is that it only works well if you can sufficiently fatigue the muscle groups, so you need to plan on spending at least an hour and a half in the gym and up to three hours weightlifting each day. Most lifts are single joint lifts, meaning the focus isn’t on calorie-burning, strength or athleticism – but just muscle isolation and growth. Most of us don’t have that kind of time: the people who benefit the most from a body split routine have a lot of dedication and devotion to their exercise program and one desire: build muscle.

2. Traditional weightlifting

When most of us think of “resistance training,” we think of a traditional weightlifting program. It consists of 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions of a specific exercise, with 45-60 seconds of rest after each set. Once the exercise is done, you move on to the next one. Typically, a routine consists of 8-10 exercises that work the entire body. Usually, this type of routine is done 3-4 days a week. It’s a great, straightforward way to add strength, bone density and lean muscle mass. Compared to some other forms of lifting, traditional weightlifting doesn’t burn as many calories or elicit a high cardiovascular response, because you sit and “rest” during the exercise. If your goal is maximum weight loss and/or toning and cutting, there are better programs for you. The same can be said about athleticism. If your goal is just to stay fit and keep your body strong, this would be a good option.

3. Circuit style training

Circuit-style training involves choosing a series of exercises—usually multi-joint movements that work a large number of muscles and joints at the same time—and performing the series one after the other, with minimal rest between exercises. Heart rate and metabolism are screamingly high during a circuit training workout, and the intensity or volume of exercises performed with this approach can be very high. When you’re trying to get “bang for your buck” from your resistance training routine, a circuit style training program can be very effective. Reps are typically in the 10-20 range, and many exercises include a cardio component, such as a 250-meter row, a 2-minute treadmill sprint, or throwing 25 medicine balls over a gym wall. As mentioned, weightlifting exercises are mainly multi-joint, such as “squat to press”, “lunge to curl” or “deadlift to overhead extension”. Most of the clients I train who want to lose weight and tone up will have a program that has some resemblance to a circuit training routine. Often, a 20-30 minute core routine every day of the week literally melts away the fat. The downside to circuit style training is that because the rest periods are so short, you typically can’t lift as much weight and strength gains can be slower than with body split training or traditional weightlifting.

4. Duration

Periodization simply means that the training year is divided into workout cycles or “periods”. Each cycle of the training year has a different type of weightlifting. For example, the training year can be divided into 1) off-season; 2) building muscle endurance; 3) muscle strength and/or mass building; 4) strength and explosive power development and 5) strength maintenance or competition season. Obviously, an athlete preparing for competition benefits most from this style of training. Periodization allows the athlete to “peak” or maximally prepare physically before their event. An example of a periodization weightlifting plan for an Ironman triathlete training for a June race, with three full-body workouts per week, might include:

July-September: Off-season, cross-training

October-December: Build muscle endurance, 3 sets of 15 reps, 8-10 exercises, 30-45 second rest

January-March: Muscle strengthening, 4 sets of 12 reps, 6-8 exercises, 60-90 second rest

April-May: Strength and speed training, 5 sets of 4 repetitions, 3-4 exercises, 2-3 minutes rest

June: Strength maintenance, 2 sets of 10 reps, 4-6 exercises, 1-2 minutes rest

This plan may look different for a basketball or football player, but the basic concepts are the same: take the body through several different training periods to perform at its best when it really matters. No serious athlete should choose any weightlifting routine that does not include periods.

Of course, there are many options and limitless combinations of workout routines. In one to two e-mails, an online personal trainer can design a routine that is personalized to your goals. Then, your trainer can constantly change your workout to avoid a training plateau, your body’s adaptation to exercise. A personal trainer is full of such useful information! In fact, on my diet and fitness website,, I’ve published a new e-book filled with hundreds of fitness tips and tricks, pages of workout combinations, and dozens more. Health and wellness articles. It’s called Ben Greenfield’s E-Health Handbook of Diet and Fitness Secrets, and between now and August 1st, you can get it for just $19.95 at . If you’re looking for more direction and information about fitness, check it out!

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