Strength and weight training, whether at the YMCA or another gym, will take time and patience. However, even the best gym or equipment won’t be able to help you if you don’t follow basic steps and have a goal in mind. Unless you have these matters figured out, your strength training program won’t get anywhere, so here’s what you have to do.
Have a Plan
If you don’t have a specific training program, nothing you do will work or worse you could end up injuring yourself. This is one of the reasons why it makes more sense to work out in a gym than at home, because gyms offer you a personal trainer who can prepare a strength training program that’s just right for you. Granted there are a lot of books on the subject, but a personal trainer can help you choose the right equipment and routines.
A good strength training cycle would be 12 weeks with two week mini blocks. The mini blocks would change, i.e., the sets are increased along with the weight of the dumbbells you lift to match your increasing strength.
Monitor Your Progress
Your journal or diary will tell you how far you are progressing. For instance, if your journal says you were able to do 8 reps of 100 lbs last week then this week you need to do 9 repetitions with an increase of 1 to 5 lbs. At the same time of course you need to set realistic goals, something that a personal trainer can help you with.
Use the Right Movements
What this means is you need to do the classic moves like bench press, deadlift, squats, curls, calf raises and even sit ups, as it contributes to your strength development. If you’re thinking of focusing on a particular muscle group, single joint movements are ideal, but if you want to stimulate more muscles, multi-joint exercises are a must.
The Tempo is Very Important
Tempo here refers to the speed at which a weight is lifted. In most gyms, you will see that the concentric (raising) and eccentric (lowering) is around 1 second, very fast but you can vary this according to your own strength training plan. For instance, you can alter the tempo when raising and lowering. You could for example, perform a 5 second lowering and then pause for a couple of seconds before going up. Increasing and varying the tempo is good because the time under tension increases, forcing your muscles to get used to different stress levels.
Resting between Sets
The rest time between sets depends on how much you lift. Generally speaking, high reps from 12 to 15 require rest periods of 45 to 75 seconds, while with a few reps, 5 or less, you need about a minute or two of rest. It sounds as if it should be the other way around but it isn’t since more reps and lighter weight allows the body to recover faster, while few reps with heavy weights take more out of your body.
Don’t focus on just one set of exercises, like the bench press or deadlift since that will cause an imbalance in muscle development. If you’re serious about strength training, you should work out all your muscles and do some shoulder presses, curls with triceps extensions and more. It is very important that you give all your muscles a workout since that will lead to greater strength and make you less susceptible to injuries.
Stretching, Warm-ups and Cardio
5 to 15 minutes of cardio or stretching before lifting weights is necessary to increase your body’s temperature and make it more flexible. For strength training purposes, your cardio should be light for one minute and intense the next. This won’t just “wake up” your body but also burn some calories along the way.
Apart from warming up and stretching, you should also do some leg training workouts and upper body training. In addition, you should always do exercises or cardio training on the muscle that you will be working. Stretching a “cold” muscle should be avoided at all costs, so warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before lifting weights.
Give Your Body a Break
Whether you’re working out at Snap Fitness or somewhere else, take some time off and rest. If you have a 12 week training regimen and it’s done, give yourself about a week of rest before moving on. Provided you don’t go on an eating binge, the rest period will give your body enough time to recover without losing any of the strength or muscles you developed.
After resting for a week, your body will be more than ready to commence on another training program. Finally, don’t forget to eat properly. Make sure that after working out your meal has protein and different kinds of carbohydrates.