I spend a good bit of time at the gym. Usually, I am the only woman buzzing through a swarm of men on the weight room floor. When I ask other women why they don't incorporate strength training into their weekly cardio routine, their reply is always, "It's intimidating."
When starting a weight training program, my female friends are wondering where to begin. They hear buzz words like, exercise order, reps, single-and multiple-joint exercises, assisted machines and rest periods. By breaking down the few buzz words and building your confidence level, I hope to see more of you on the weight room floor.
There are two classifications of exercise: single-joint and multiple-joint. A couple examples of a single-joint exercise are dumbbell biceps curls and leg extensions. These single-joint exercises target specific body parts: the biceps and the quadriceps. Bench presses and squats are examples of multiple-joint exercises involving two or more primary joints. Typically, multiple-joint exercises are performed before single-joint exercises for optimal strength gains.
Using assisted machines and performing single-joint exercises are perfect for those beginning a resistance training program. The machines' fixed movement will help beginners with their form. They are also easy and safe to use.
A set is a group of repetitions performed with-out stopping. Adults interested in muscle gain may want to do more sets with few repetitions. One to three sets are my suggestions for those who are interested in conditioning or fat loss.
The word rep stands for repetition, which is one complete movement of an exercise consisting of a concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering) phase. How many reps you do depends again on your goal. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that for each exercise, eight to 12 repetitions improve strength and power, 10-15 improve strength in middle-age and older persons starting exercise, and 15-20 repetitions improve muscular endurance.
When starting a strength training program, you should train your large muscles before your smaller muscles. Larger muscles are your chest, back and quadriceps. Smaller muscles are your shoulders, biceps, triceps and calves. Because your smaller muscles are also used when training larger muscles, training them first will leave you weak and fatigued for your larger muscle exercises.
Rest between sets is important and not to be overlooked. I like to have my stopwatch handy for this recovery period. When training heavy, looking for a gain in muscular strength, a rest period of one to two minutes will increase strength. Training with lighter weights for muscular endurance calls for shorter rest periods generally about 30-45 seconds.
Before heading to the gym, you should write down your exercise plan. After each exercise, make note of how much weight you used and how many reps and sets you performed. Mix it up from week to week. Train heavy one time and light the next.
Resistance training is excellent for your health. The benefit of training is to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. No matter how many sets, reps or exercises you do, you will already be ahead of the risks.