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Top 5 Tips on Strength Training
by Raphael Calzadilla
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
-- Frank Outlaw
Weight training can be both incredibly fulfilling and sometimes frustrating. A great deal of mystery surrounds effective weight training methods, but it's key to try to decipher truly effective tips amongst all the information on this topic. Additionally, you need to be open to change and create specific goals for yourself to better understand how to approach your own fitness program.
Throughout 24 years of training experience, I have observed people's resistance to change. Every Monday in most health clubs and home gyms, hundreds of people are performing the same routine, exercises and repetitions. Change is one of the best tactics to stimulate a loss in body fat, increase strength and endurance, and enjoy your routine. Think of the body from "the inside out." When you lift weights, the body senses stress and its job is to adapt as quickly as possible. When it begins to adapt, you stop seeing results. However, once the training parameters change, the body must re-adapt, thereby accelerating your progress.
Strategic, well thought out change in your weight-training and overall fitness routine is pivotal to ongoing progress and consistency. There are several essentials to weight training. The following tips will help you get started by simplifying key essentials and have you on your way to physical change, increased strength and, ultimately, a more enjoyable fitness regimen.
1. DEVELOP A SPECIFIC GOAL
This is where you truly begin. Knowing what you are working toward and creating a mental picture of your goal will determine your weight training parameters and program, as well as increase your focus and dedication. Is your goal to reduce body fat, increase muscle "tone," train for a competitive event, or increase energy? Different training parameters apply for a person who wants to just "tone up" versus someone who is training for a marathon.
The more specific your goal, the more effective your program. Write them down! Make them measurable and realistic (ie. lose five pounds; increase the weight of an exercise by 5 percent etc.) This is where your eDiets journal becomes invaluable.
2. CHANGE YOUR WORKOUT ROUTINE EVERY 3-4 WEEKS
Periodically change the order of your routine. For example, instead of performing lunges at the start of every leg exercise routine; begin with leg presses, or possibly dumbbell squats. There are many ways to restructure a training session, but switching the order in which you perform your exercises is one.
3. VARY THE VOLUME AND REPETITIONS OF YOUR SETS
Stop performing the same amount of sets and reps each workout. Vary the volume of your sets and reps for three weeks. For example, if your legs and butt are a visually weaker muscle group, perform three additional sets of leg exercises for 15-20 reps. Another example: For the next three weeks reduce the number of sets for legs and butt exercises. However, increase your weights by 5 percent and attempt to get 12 repetitions per set. Your muscles will recognize the change and you will see the results. You need not fear "bulking up" if your nutrition program has you in a slight caloric deficit (slightly less than maintenance).
4. VARY THE TEMPO OF YOUR REPS
When it comes to tempo, slow repetitions are a popular method, but incorporating various tempos in your routine, from slow to medium speed, can enhance your body. For example, when working toward a goal of shapely shoulders, perform seated dumbbell presses and work at a moderate tempo (one second pushing the weight up and two seconds on the lowering). Then, for your next shoulder exercise, take a pair of dumbbells and perform lateral raises with a four count on the eccentric part of the movement (the downward movement). This provides different rates of tension on the muscle, leading to further progress.
5. VARY THE TIME BETWEEN SETS
For muscle and strength gains, many individuals wait anywhere from one to three minutes between sets. A more efficient way is to vary rest time between exercises. If you're working on your chest, perform a dumbbell incline chest press with a weight that allows you to lift 12 reps per set, taking one minute between sets. Then, go to a dumbbell chest press and use a rep scheme of 12-15 reps, waiting 45 seconds between sets. If you are advanced and add a third chest exercise, perform a dumbbell fly for 15 reps waiting only 30 seconds between sets. You'll experience a great burn in your chest muscles at this point, as you are stimulating as many muscle fibers as possible. This will also help to stimulate an increase in body-fat loss.
Whether you're inexperienced or highly experienced, these points will guide you toward effective change and will ultimately keep you enthusiastic, stimulated and most importantly -- consistent.
A drug-free competitive bodybuilder and 2005 winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health-and-fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics
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