Weight Training Workout Program


weight training triceps

Weight training is a specific type of strength training. This being said, all exercise routines should include some form of strength training in order to create a well rounded approach to good health and fitness.

The way in which you design your weight training program can make the difference between achieving your personal health and fitness goals or abandoning them altogether.

Simply going to the gym or fitness center and erratically lifting weights or visiting the gym and working out in an irregular manner will not build lean muscle tissue in a significant or efficient manner. Hence, it is important that you take a few moments to define exactly what your personal health and fitness goals are.

Prior to actually beginning your weight training routine, you will want to take some time to define the specific details associated with your personal health and fitness goals.

Below are a few items to consider prior to actually beginning your weight training routine:

  1. Define your personal fitness goals and the timeframe in which you want to achieve them (e.g. overall muscle tone, 17" arms in 6 months, 12% body fat within 9 months, max bench press of 300 pounds in 4 months, to compete in a body building competition within 2 years, etc.).

  2. Determine the amount of time you can dedicate to your weight training routine (e.g. 2 hours a day after work, 5 days a week).

  3. Design your weight training routine to meet your personal fitness goals (i.e. define your weight training routine down to the specific exercises, number of sets, and the number of repetitions for each set).

  4. Monitor your results to ensure that you are on schedule to meet your personal fitness goals within the time allocated. If you are not on schedule to obtain the results you defined in your personal fitness goals, you will need to make modifications to your weight training routine.

In order to effectively increase your lean muscle mass and maintain it, or to continue to increase your muscle density, you need to consume an appropriate diet, implement a proper weight training routine, and get plenty of rest. Without accomplishing all three of these items (regardless of the quality of your program) you will most likely fail to meet your personal fitness goals.

In fact, more often than not, many individuals that begin a weight lifting routine fail because they spend so much time developing their routine that they forgot to include the additional items mentioned above with their overall weight training plan.

Two Primary Types of Weight Training


woman lifting weights

High Intensity Training: This type of weight training is typically performed at least 3 to 6 times per week. Each workout, in general, will target 2 or 3 primary muscle groups.

The exercises are intended to be performed in a progressive fashion with a lower number of repetitions per set until another set of the same exercise would be too difficult to complete. Gains in lean muscle mass are intended to occur every weight training session.

Periodization: This type of training relies on focusing efforts over the long term. Workouts are generally performed 3 or 4 times a week, but you may spend the first few weeks focusing on endurance, then switch to a heavier load, and then for the final weeks of the weight training routine do very heavy loads.

Gains in lean muscle mass typically occur at a more even rate over a longer period of time rather than every session. This approach is directed at the individual seeking to tone their body, maintain lean muscle mass and minimize the effects of bone loss.

Many people do not adhere to just one style of training, instead applying of mix of the two to their overall weight training plan. In general, when people work different muscle groups every time they exercise (i.e. Monday: Arms, Chest, Shoulders; Tuesday: Legs, Back, Abdominals) they are using this hybrid method of exercise, usually referred to as "hard gainer."

Specifics of Your Routine


Once you have determined the type of weight training program you are going to perform, you will need to define the specifics of your weight training routine. Start by determining how many repetitions you will perform for each set of each type of exercise. In general:

  • Strength - 1 - 7 repetitions

  • Tone/Appearance - 8 - 15 repetitions

  • Endurance - 16 or more repetitions

When weightlifting, remember that you will be doing sets of whatever amount of reps you choose until you are too tired to do another set. This is very important to your muscle building program. Periodically modify the amount of weight you lift for each exercise and the number of repetitions you perform for each exercise. By doing so, you will help to prevent the specific muscle from beginning to plateau and continue to push the muscle for more strength and growth.

In addition, each muscle will respond more quickly to a weight lifting routine that is continually changing, thereby keeping the muscle off balance. Do not be afraid to modify your weight lifting routine to determine how best to obtain your personal fitness goals within the shortest timeframe.

Another important aspect to consider when designing your weight lifting program is a term referred to as "progressive overload." Simply put, you will need to gradually increase the amount of weight you use and always incorporate some heavy lifting into every session. Your body will not be quick to respond to exercises by building more muscle if it is unconvinced that it needs to do so. Constantly pushing yourself past what you think your muscles can handle will ensure that your body is always working to keep up.

Using Rest As Part of Your Program


Rest is a key component of your exercise program. If you do not allow your muscles enough time to recover from a weight lifting session, the gains in lean muscle mass will be minimized.

In fact, numerous studies have consistently shown that at least 95% of muscle growth that occurs as a result of lifting weights occurs when you are at rest.

Although it may be strange to think about it this way, when you lift heavy weights you are actually destroying the fibers of your muscles.

The body naturally repairs the muscle tissue that was destroyed by lifting weights, and adds more muscle fiber to the existing muscle to prevent the tears from occurring again.

An easy way to think of this is if you suffer a major cut on your skin, the scar that grows back is not old flesh but new flesh that has been manufactured by your body to repair the damaged region and prevent further cuts from occurring. In theory, if you were to continue to cut the same spot and let it repair before cutting it again, it would eventually become too tough to cut!

At the very least, a serious weight training routine should:

  1. Work the same muscle group twice per week.

  2. Last 45 minutes or longer.

  3. Be performed 5 times a week.

  4. Last 11 continuous weeks before the occurrence of a week and a half break.

Types of Exercises to Incorporate Into Your Weight Training Routine


Summarized below are some of the best exercises for each major muscle group:

Legs

  • Squat
  • Leg Press
  • Leg Extension
  • Lunge
  • Dead Lift (Regular and Straight Leg)
  • Lying Leg Curl
  • Calf Raise

Chest

  • Flat Barbell Bench Press
  • Incline Barbell Bench Press
  • Flat Dumbbell Presses
  • Incline Dumbbell Presses
  • Flat Dumbbell Flyes
  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes
  • Crossover Cables
  • Bar Dips
  • Push Ups

Back

  • Lateral Bar Pull Downs
  • Bent Over Rows
  • Dumbbell Pull Overs
  • Single Arm Dumbbell Rows
  • Pull Ups
  • Seated Rows

Shoulders

  • Seated Straight Bar Military Press
  • Seated Dumbbell Military Presses
  • Standing Front Dumbbell Lateral Raises
  • Standing Side Dumbbell Lateral Raises
  • Standing Bent Over Lateral Raises
  • Standing Strait Bar Upright Rows
  • Standing Shrugs

Biceps

  • Standing Strait Bar Biceps Curl
  • Seated Preacher Biceps Curls (French Curl Bar)
  • Seated Dumbbell Biceps Curl
  • Seated Dumbbell Concentration Biceps Curl
  • Seated Strait Bar Wrist Curls

Triceps

  • Standing Triceps Push Down
  • Lying Strait Bar or French Curl Triceps Extension
  • Flat Strait Bar Close Grip Bench Press
  • Standing Reverse Single Arm Triceps Extension

Abdominals

  • Lying Abdominal Crunches
  • Lying Abdominal Twist Crunches
  • Incline Abdominal Twist Sit-ups
  • Hanging Abdominal Knee Ups

The Perfect Weight Training Program?


It's important to remember that no single weight training program is perfect for everyone. What works idealy for one individual may not work at all for you. Each human body is different and the various muscle groups of one individual will respond differently from those of another individual.

weight training biceps

Furthermore, it is important that you initially design your weight training program with a large degree of variety and evaluate which exercises produce the largest response in terms of muscle strength and growth. Make sure to incorporate a healthy and nutritious dietary regimen and get plenty of rest.

While adhering to an intense weight training program can be difficult at times, for individuals that are looking to increase their strength and lean muscle density the rewards will justify the means.

One final point to remember is that there is a fine line between "good pain" and "bad pain." Lifting heavy weights places a large amount of torque on the body's joints (e.g. elbows, knees, wrists, back, etc.), so it's important to pay careful attention to your body and eliminate any exercises that are physically hurting you.

At times the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain" can be difficult to discern, as any time you are tearing down muscle tissue there will be pain. The important point is to listen to your body and learn what it is telling you, and make any changes to your weight lifting routine that you deem necessary.

For additional information on weight training, weight training programs, nutrition, bodybuilding and various related tips, please visit the Weight Training section of our website.