A STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM FOR THE AGES
A Strength training program. What is it? It simply is another way of saying weight training, pumping iron or lifting weights. So you’ve decided that it’s time. You’ve been putting it off for too long.
Thinking that your health has been needing an improvement. And you’ve been getting out of shape! Well, it’s never too late to decide to whip yourself back into shape. You’ve made a great decision. Let this be your guide.
LET’S GET DOWN TO IT
An important thing to remember about resistance training is to always do some stretching before warming up or lifting any weights. Stretching is a very important part of any srength training program.
If you don’t stretch, you could strain your muscles and be on your way to the doctor’s office instead of having a beneficial workout. Also, do some warm up sets. Start with light weights before hitting the heavier stuff. This is extremely important if you haven’t been to the gym in a while or at all!
You could also warm up by jumping on the exercise bike or treadmill for 5 minutes. Doing 2 sets of 10 jumping jacks or even an easy 5 minute jog or brisk walk. The idea is to get your heart pumping and blood flowing to get your body ready for some physical training.
TIME TO ADD THE WEIGHTS TO YOUR STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM
If you’ve got an idea and know more or less what your 1 repetition maximum is in any given exercise then you can work with that. If not, let me explain what a 1 repetition maximum is. It’s simply the maximum amount of weight you can lift 1 time. For example, if your’e doing a bench press. The maximum amount of weight you could put on the bar and press 1 time is your 1 rep. max amount. While it’s good to know what your 1 rep. maximum is, it’s not necessary to start training.
It’s simply the most weight you can lift 1 time. For example, in the squat it’s the most weight you could put on the bar and squat 1 time. On the bench press it’s the most weight you could put on the bar and press for 1 time etc. You get the picture, right.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A SPOTTER WHEN STRENGTH TRAINING
If you don’t know your 1 rep. max., you can go with what feels comfortable. Or you can try to see what your 1 rep max. is by doing what i’ve just explained above.
Although I don’t think it’s a good idea at this time. Especially if you haven’t touched a weight before or haven’t trained for years. Eventually though, in any strength training program. It would be wise to know your one rep max.
If you do decide to try and figure out your 1 rep. maximum. You must have someone be a spotter for you. It’s for your own good. Do NOT try and attempt to do it alone. For your own safety have a spotter. What a spotter will basically do is assist you at any time you have a problem completing the rep. As well as helping you putting weights on the bar and so forth. Again, get a spotter it beats getting injured.
I have a friend who back in the day was new in the gym. But he didn’t seem like he was a newbie. He was just a beast in there! Until 1 day he tried to figure out his 1 rep. max. Instead of waiting for 1 of us to show up in the gym or ask us to spot for him. He decided to do it on his own. It started and ended with the bench press.
He got set up. Put an amount of weight that he never benched before. And attempted to press it. But about 3/4s way up he struggled and then the weights came down. He tried to slow it down as best he could but he was zapped! The bar landed hard on his rib cage and fractured a rib before someone in the gym seen him in trouble and assisted.
My friend ended up making a trip to the emergency room. He was admitted to the hospital for a couple days. As well as missing a day of work. As you can see it’s better to be safe than sorry. Had he had a spotter all of that wouldn’t have happened.
If you don’t know your max and am unsure if you’d like to find out at this time. You can start off training with what’s comfortable for you. You can always find out your 1 rep maximum at a later time when you’re further into your resistance training. Of course, as you progress in your training your max. will increase.
BULK UP OR CUT UP
That is the question. Do you want to pack on the beef? Or get ripped? How you train directly affects the results you’ll get. Diet and nutrition also has a big effect on the results you’ll get. More on that later.
For the gym illiterate. Bulk up means you want to pack on some pounds. Not just any type of weight but mostly muscle! Cut up means you want to show the lines and show that definition within your muscles. Have you made your decision? What type of strength training program and results do you want to go for? Do you want to focus on training for a 6 pack? Or do you just want to get huge!! Whatever your decision it’s never too late to do it.
I knew of someone who was a smoker with a pot belly who drank daily. He was probably 1 of the unhealthiest person I knew. He’s had an unhealthy lifestyle for most of his life. Until slowly in his 40’s he started complaining about his health and his physical abilities. How he’s not as capable now as he was physically. How he’s feeling ill often and how his blood pressure and cholesterol numbers have gone bad for the first time.
He finally had enough! He was tired of getting winded so easily on a flight of stairs. Or looking like a balloon instead of having a 6 pack or at least 4 lol! So he decided it was time to make a change.
At 42 he thought maybe it wasn’t possible to get cut and pack on more muscle. But after a year he proved himself wrong. He had gone from a 35% body fat composition to 15%. Lost 40 lbs. of body weight but at the same time gained muscle! He had a metamorphosis and turned into the Hulk!
It can happen to you too! With the proper Training and Nutrition. You can make it happen. Now back to the previous subject. What do you want to be the focus of your training?
Will it be bulk up or cut up? In the next few pages. I will go over training to cut up and show more muscle definition as well as some exercises to get you started.
Then i’ll go over tips and techniques for training to pack on more muscle. Following that, i’ll go over diet and nutrition which should be a very integral part of any successful training program.
GETTING CUT IN A STRENGTH TRAINING PROGRAM
Training for muscle definition or to “get cut” will require high repitition sets. As well as sets requiring you to push to failure.
1. As with any resistance training program. Start with Compound exercises. Compound exercises consist of a group of several major muscles being involved in the exercise at the same time. Exercises such as the bench press, squat and deadlift are some examples of a compound exercise.
2. If you haven’t trained before or for a while. 3 days a week would be a good starting point. After 3 months or when you feel comfortable you eventually want to train 4-5 times a week. Alternating between upper body, lower body and core exercises. After a couple months of training you can start adding exercises that focus on muscle isolation to your program. Muscle isolation exercises focus more on 1 major muscle. For instance, Arm Curls focus on the Biceps. Arm extensions focus on the Triceps etc.
3. For each exercise start off with 3 sets each with 10 repetitions in the 1st set, 12 in the second set and 15 repetitions in the 3rd set. Eventually, after a few weeks or when you feel ready. Put in a 4th set until muscle failure. Start off with 1 compound exercise per workout in the 1st week. 2 exercises after a couple weeks and work your way up to 3 or more exercises per workout.
Always warm up for the 1st set using about 50% of your 1 rep. maximum for that exercise if you know it. If not, use a weight that you feel comfortable at to warm up. Then work your way up to heavier weights until muscle failure. This will help stimulate muscle hypertrophy that will increase strength and muscle definition.
4. Use upper body exercises such as the Bench Press, Dumbbell Fly, Back Rows, Shoulder Press, Arm Curls, Arm Extensions etc. Get yourself familiar with the many different exercises.
5. It’s important to start off with a compound exercise such as the Squat. Then, after a few weeks you can incorporate other exercises such as the Deadlift, Leg Lunges, Leg Press, Leg Curl, Leg Extension etc.
6. Exercises for Core training include Ab Crunches, Sit Ups, Planks etc. Mix it up by using light weight plates to add a little resistance. Workout the core at least once a week
7. Add Super sets into your program after a couple months of training. Super sets are pushing and pulling sets done back to back. For example a set of Arm Curls followed by a set of Triceps Extensions. These will help you burn calories faster and aid in removing fat which will ultimately help in seeing the “cuts” and muscle definition you’re striving for.
Training for muscle definition also involves some aerobic training as well to help burn calories and fat. This will help uncover your muscles and show the “cuts” and muscle definition you aim for. Running, jogging, biking, swimming, the treadmill and elliptical are some ways to get aerobic activity. Add these and other exercises into your strength training program.
A strength training program to bulk up is slightly different than training for muscle definition. Although similar it has some variations in the resistance training itself as well as the nutritional aspect. Heavier weights and lower repetitions are involved.
Resistance training for all is possible. Keep in mind especially when working with heavier weights. That stretching, warming up and using good form during the exercise is very important. Also, when working with heavy weights a spotter is recommended:
1. If you haven’t trained in years or haven’t trained at all a 2 day a week resistance training schedule using only compound exercises is sufficient. Allowing your body sufficent time to rest is a must to prevent injuries and burnout. As well as to give your body time to rebuild and grow. If you’ve trained recently then a 3 day a week training schedule is sufficient. Always allow a muscle to rest at least 36 hours between training.
For the 1st couple or weeks work the upper body on 1 day and then the lower body on another .
If working out 3 days a week, on the 3rd day pick your choice of 2 exercises. On the 1st and 2nd day of training during the week your training should only consist of 1 compound exercise each day.
Each exercise should consist of 3 sets of 10 repititions. The first set being a warm up set. The last rep should be close to muscle failure. If not, the resistance must be adjusted. A good compound exercise for the upoper body is the Bench Press. A good compound exercise for the lower body is the Leg Squat.
2. After 2 weeks you should be ready to add another exercise to your training schedule on day 1 and 2. Add another upper body exercise and another lower body exercise. Within a month you should be able to add a little more weight to increase the resistance.
3. After a couple of months into your strength training program go ahead and add another upper or lower body exercise. In 2-3 months time you should be getting stronger and able to increase the resistance again for continued growth. Push yourself to get stronger while focusing on form.
DIET and NUTRITION
What you eat is just as important as how you train for getting the results you strive for. Here are some nutritional guidelines for helping you to “get cut” as well as to bulk up.
NUTRITION FOR MUSCLE DEFINITION
You’ve been working out now it’s time to eat to help your muscles shine! Eat HIGH protein foods!
1. Cut carbs from your diet or at the minimum eat a low carbohydrate diet. Consisting of 100 grams or less of carbohydrates per day.
2. Don’t eat foods containing sugar and avoid sugar-sweetened drinks.
3. Eat 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
4. It’s not necessary to eliminate fat from your diet or count calories. As long as you stick to the low carb aspect.
5. Try to avoid eating processed foods
EATING TO BULK UP
1. 1- 1.5 grams of protein per lb. of body weight per day. Protein shakes before and after workouts are ideal. As well as before bedtime to help muscles recover and build.
2. Increase calorie intake by 500 per day.
3. Eat as much carbs as you want but go easy on the sugar.
4. Creatine is a great dietary supplement to aid in your training to help you bulk up.
5. Aim to eat 6 smaller meals a day as opposed to 3 meals a day.
Following these guidelines will help you reach the fitness goals you strive for. You can improve your physical fitness at any age with resistance training! It is recommended to seek a doctor’s advice before starting any fitness program. Stay dedicated and most of all be safe. You can do it!