Friday, 17 May 2013

Building a workout routine

Recently we had a request on Facebook for how to build a good weight training regime. It got me thinking, how do you build a good regime? My personal rules have become so ingrained that its hard to express them in so few words, but I'll give it a try. Everything you are about to read is my own opinion, formed from years of experience as it may be, but its still only my opinion. Its not a comprehensive guide, but rather a set of rules that have helped me, and which stand up to reason – the greatest test for fitness advice!

Rule 1: In order to get bigger, start big, get small. How often, in a commericial gym, do you see guys whacking out a few sets of bicep curls, a few sets of bench, then five minutes on the treadmill and that's them? Maybe I spend too much time watching other people when I should be checking my own form, but I see this kind of behaviour a lot. These guys are putting the cart before the horse, working the small muscles before the big muscles – or even not at all. In every session you should aim to exhaust the larger muscles before you start to work your way down to the small. Which means, start with legs (even if you hate doing them, you NEED to train legs, as I will discuss below), next to back, then to chest, then shoulders, THEN you can start thinking about your biceps and your triceps. Bicep and triceps are small muscles, and work best as a part of a chain, utilised in large compound movements. Do the big movements first, and you will experience big gains. Bicep curls are the icing on the cake, not the main course. 

Rule 2: Do legs. Legs are the biggest muscles in your body, if you neglect them, you are neglecting over 50% of your strength, almost all your explosive power, and also hampering your ability to burn calories. This means doing deadlifts and squats, the two great, and most neglected, strength exercises. If you don't know how, find someone to teach you. If you aren't squatting, you aren't lifting.

Rule 3: This is less a rule, and more a guideline. Start with low reps, and heavy weights, then work yourself down, as you work smaller muscle groups, into the higher rep range. This means you are recruiting the full range of muscle fibres in your first few exercises, as it takes the entirety of your muscle to lift near its max ( when you can only manage 3- 5 reps of an exercise), and then as you get onto your isolations (bicep curls etc) you are burning out your muscles and exhausting the smaller muscle fibres which are hit by isolations. 

These are just a few simple rules. There are many, many more. All of these rules have exceptions, and you will probably hear different fitness professionals argue different methods for different results. By and large though, these rules will serve you well as an amateur, and unless you are specially looking to body build professionally, or compete in a specific event, will do you well. But I encourage you to research for yourself, and to find what works for you, after all, that's the joy of weight lifting. Good luck!

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