Week 5 – Strength Training Tips

We’re already in Week 5! That means only 2 more weeks (technically, 1 1/2-ish – I’m a little late with my post this week).

Also, I realize this is a long post – but it’s full of good information that you should know before lifting weights. And, stop in during my shift and I’ll go through your routine with you! 🙂

I’ve talked with a few people about their strength training routines, and realized that many of you may not be using heavy enough weights or may not be doing the correct number of reps/sets. So, better late than never, here are some strength training tips that will help you for the rest of the challenge and beyond.

Always Warm Up with 5-10 minutes of light cardio or with warm up sets of each exercise using a light-medium weight.

Choose 1-2 exercises for each muscle group and do 1-2 sets of 8-16 repetitions of each exercise. As a beginner, you may want to start with about 15-16 reps until you feel comfortable with the moves and build some strength. After that, you can add more weight and reduce your reps for a different challenge.

Give yourself at least a day of rest to recover.

Each week, add either 1 repetition and/or a few pounds of weight to each exercise to progress. Just keep your reps at about 16 or below. Once you hit 16 reps, increase your weight and drop your reps down to 10 or 12 reps.

Choosing Your Sets, Reps and Weight can be the most confusing part of strength training. How many reps and sets you do will depend on your goals.

To lose body fat, build muscle: Use enough weight that you can ONLY complete 10-12 repetitions for 1-3 sets. Rest about 30 seconds-1 minute between sets and at least one day between workout sessions

For muscle gain: Use enough weight that you can ONLY complete 4-8 repetitions and 3 or more sets, resting for 1-2 minutes between sets and 2-3 days between sessions. For beginners, give yourself several weeks of conditioning before you tackle weight training with this degree of difficulty.

For health and muscular endurance: Use enough weight that you can ONLY complete 12-16 repetitions, 1-3 sets, resting 20-30 seconds between sets and at least one day between workout sessions.

To determine how much weight you should use, start with a light weight and perform one set. Continue adding weight until you can ONLY do the desired number of repetitions. The last rep should be difficult, but not impossible and you should be able to keep good form.

So, how do you know how much weight you need to challenge your body?

The larger muscles of the glutes, thighs, chest and back can usually handle heavier weight than the smaller muscles of the shoulders, arms, abs and calves.

You’ll usually lift more weight on a machine than with dumbbells. With machines, you’re usually using both arms or both legs for the exercises while, with dumbbells, each limb works independently. So, if you can handle 30 or 40 pounds on a chest press machine, you may only be able to handle 15 or 20 pounds with dumbbells.

If you’re a beginner, it’s more important to focus on good form than it is to lift heavy weights.

It may take several workouts to figure out how much weight you need

The easiest way to determine how much weight you should use on each lift is to guess!

Pick up a light weight and do a warm up set of the exercise of your choice, aiming for about 10 to 16 repetitions.

For set 2, increase your weight by 5 or more pounds and perform your goal number of repetitions. If you can do more than your desired number of reps, heavy up again for your 3rd set.

Remember, you should be lifting enough weight that you can ONLY do the desired reps. You should be struggling by the last rep, but still able to finish it with good form.

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3 thoughts on “Week 5 – Strength Training Tips

  1. Nancy St. Peter February 26, 2012 / 5:29 pm

    I followed your advice last week and did feel more out of my strength workout. I’m going to keep doing that and changing what I do with other machines each time I’m there.
    This 6 weeks has really flown past! this is the last week already! I haven’t seen much change in weight but I can tell a difference in my strength and endurance.

    • Vinter Vigglov Wellness Challenge February 27, 2012 / 8:42 am

      I’m glad you felt a difference, Nancy. Also glad it didn’t make you too sore. It’s hard to know where that limit is, because soreness doesn’t come on right away. (I was a bit sore over the weekend from lifting on Friday.)
      6 weeks isn’t that long of a challenge to see dramatic weight loss results, which is why I emphasized on total body/mind wellness instead of just weight loss. It’s so great to hear that you’re feeling a difference in your fitness! Go Nancy!

  2. Shirley Chihuly February 27, 2012 / 11:01 am

    I agree with Nancy, where has the 6 weeks gone? I haven’t lost weight, but I truly feel like this Challenge has made me more aware of doing exercise (coming to the gym), doing a food journal, drinking more water, and most importantly, having support from others. It is fun to read everyone’s comments on this blog. I appreciate the work Brie is putting in and the information she gives regarding American Heart Month, etc. Thanks everyone for making this Challenge fun! I will try to get to the potluck this evening, I am bushed with just getting back this morning. I haven’t slept in over 24 hours and am running on my last bit of energy. Hopefully, I’ll see you tonight at the potluck. Thanks again Brie for having this Challenge for us.

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