Weight lifting routines that build muscle...
From the beginner to the advanced
Ok, how do you set up a weight lifting routine?
Setting up your weight lifting routine can be a confusing subject. It doesn’t have to be. Basically, you have to know what you want.
If you are a beginner looking to tone up and add a bit of muscle, you will have to start with a beginners weight lifting routine. If you've
been weight lifting for a couple of months and need a weight lifting routine that's a bit more challenging, you'll need an intermediate
weight lifting routine.
On the other hand, if you are an experienced weight lifter looking to try something different, you'll need specialized weight lifting
routines.It's a matter of finding out what you want and establishing your goals. If you don't know what you want, than you will have to
sit down and figure that out.
How do you build muscle with weight lifting routines?
If you want to build muscle, your going to have to use weight resistance exercise like weight lifting.
Weight lifting requires the use of weight bearing equipment such as barbells and dumbbells (free weights), and machines that use
cables and pulleys to help lift the weight. You can also use body weight bearing exercises such as chip ups and dips in your weight
If you are just starting out, I suggest you use a combination of machine and free weight exercises in your weight lifting routine.
This will give your body the time it needs to adjust to the different levels of stress that weight lifting places on your body.
As you progress in your weight lifting routine, I suggest you add more free weight exercises. Free weights and compound
movements such as squats, bench press, shoulder press, and bent over barbell rows apply a lot of stress on the supporting muscles.
These exercises are often called multi jointed exercises because they employ not only the targeted muscle but the supporting
muscles as well. By using free weights and compound movements in your weight lifting routine, you will challenge your body to work
harder and therefore make better muscle gains. Adding more free weight exercises will increase the intensity of your weight lifting routine.
The result? Added overall power and quality beef added to your frame.
Here are examples of compound movements to use in your weight lifting routines:
• Barbell bent over rows
• Bench press
• Barbell shoulder press
• Dead lifts
• Close grip bench press
Weight lifting routines
The following weight lifting routines are designed for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced weight lifter. If you are just starting
out, I suggest you start with the beginners weight lifting routine and slowly progress to the intermediate and advanced weight lifting
Remember to always ask for advice if you are not sure about certain exercises. Gym staff are usually pretty good and will provide
you with quality advice regarding all aspects of weight lifting. I’ve designed these weight lifting routines with the beginner in mind but
it can serve as a nice refresher for you seasoned weight lifters out there.
What is a repetition?
Weight lifting exercises consists of repetitions and sets. One repetition consists of a series of muscle contractions with a weight or
movement such as one push up. A series of repetitions is called a set. For example, 10 repetitions of push ups is considered one set.
The number of sets performed will depend on your current level of fitness and goals. Beginners can only tolerate a couple of sets per
body part. Anymore than one or two sets for a beginner is certainly not recommended as this can be counterproductive. If you are a
beginner to weight training, I suggest you design your weight lifting routine using light weight and higher repetitions.
As you progress in your weight lifting routine, your strength and muscle gains will be moderate but what you want to concentrate on
is form. This is very important. As a beginner, you want to perform the exercises with proper form. This will be very important as you
progress to the intermediate and advanced weight lifting routines.
As your form and style improves, you’ll want to move to a lower repetition range using heavier weights. Although you will want to
keep using the higher repetition range for warm ups. As your training levels advance, you can add more sets to your weight lifting routine
in order to stimulate more growth. For building muscle it is desirable to perform low repetitions using heavy weight.
The amount of repetitions you complete will depend on your goals as well as the weight lifting routine itself.There is no magic number
repetitions that will produce better results than any other number.You will have to determine your combination of body chemistry, feel,
and trial and error to determine what works best for you. What works for one person may not necessarily work another.
How much repetitions should I do?
Deciding on a repetition range to use in your weight lifting routine will depend on your goals.Do you want to build explosive strength,
power, and muscle mass? Perhaps you want to train for speed, strength and a well defined body? Or perhaps you need stamina, and
endurance. These points will help you in deciding what repetition range is best for you and your weight lifting routine:
3 to 5 repetitions
•Intensity levels are high
•Advanced strength training
•Build muscle mass, explosive strength, power, and speed
8 to 12 repetitions
•Intensity levels are moderate to high
•Intermediate to advanced strength training
•Build speed, strength, and muscle mass
15 to 26 repetitions
•Intensity levels are moderate to light
•Beginners to strength training or advanced for competitive athletes
•Build stamina and endurance, and moderate muscle mass
26 to 45 repetitions
•Intensity levels are light
•Beginners to strength training or advanced for competitive athletes
•Build endurance and minimum muscle mass
To build strength and definition, repetitions should be in the lower range. To build strength and muscle mass, your repetition range
should be between 8 and 12. The heavier you lift, the more strength and mass you will gain.
A word of extreme caution. The heavier you lift, the more stress you put on your body. Lifting heavier weights increases the
chances of injury. Therefore, the heavier you lift, the more advanced you should be.Heavy weight lifting requires the proper form, style
and inner body awareness. These attributes will not come overnight and should be practised in your beginning stages. Do not be tempted
to show off as this will lead to injuries.
What is a set?
A set is the completion of a series of repetitions.Beginners should perform one to two sets per exercise for the first couple of months
of a weight lifting routine.This should be sufficient to stimulate increases in muscle size and strength. After a couple of months, you will
probably need to add one or two more sets to further stimulate improvements.
What is progressive resistance?
Two of the most common mistakes people make in their weight lifting routine is to:
1) Increasing the amount of weight too quickly
2) Not increasing the amount of weight to stimulate further improvements
As you begin your weight lifting routine, don’t let your excitement and enthusiasm get the better of you. If you are not ready to
increase the amount of weight, don’t try and force it. Increasing the weight before you are ready for it will lead to poor form.Poor form
leads to injuries. Trust me, you don’t want injuries.
Avoid adding weight if you cannot perform the necessary repetitions in the proper form.Use weight that allows you to perform the
exercise in proper form and in your target repetition range.
For example, If you set a target repetition range for 12 and you cannot complete 3, chances are that your are using too heavy a
workload and you will have to lighten the load.
Determining your target workload for your weight lifting routine will take some trial and error. The following notes will help you
determine when to increase your weight:
•Performing 12 repetitions in good form using the same workload
•Performing all of your sets for 12 repetitions in good form using the same workload
If for example, you can perform 2 sets of 12 repetitions in good form, you might want to increase the weight. Another option is to
increase the number of sets to 3 sets of 12 repetitions if building endurance and stamina is your goal.
However, if you’re goal is building muscle mass, and strength, consider increasing the weight.
How much weight should I increase?
Increase the weight by 5% to 10% of your current workload. For example, if you’re current workload is 100 pounds and you can
perform 2 sets of 12 repetitions using good form, take 5% to 10% of 100 pounds and add it on to your exercise in your weight lifting
In this case, 105 to 110 pounds.With this new workload, your repetition range will decrease but strive to get the range back up to 12.
Repeat this process of evaluation on a weekly basis using your weight lifting log.
If you want to build muscle, you have to use heavy weight but the trick is to perform the exercise using proper form.As you improve
your form and your strength increases you may add additional weight to your weight lifting routine to further challenge your muscles.
Remember that the bigger and stronger you get, the more resistance you will have to apply to your muscles in order to stimulate
Intensity ranges from high to low. For our purposes, high intensity training means to train with heavy workloads using low
repetitions for your weight lifting routine. Low to medium intensity training means to train with lower workloads using higher repetition
ranges for your fitness purposes.
Building muscle requires high intensity ranges. You will need to determine your intensity levels that will correspond to your weight
lifting routine.Training to complete failure using all out effort requires high intensity ranges. Training to failure is required for maximum
growth. High intensity effort triggers the body to produce more of the hormones that stimulate muscle recovery and growth.
If you don’t feel “the burn” or discomfort in the muscle you are working, it either means you are not ready for the high intensity set
yet or you are not working hard enough.
To truly understand the power of high intensity training, click here.
Training to failure
In order to maximize your growth potential, you will have to train to complete failure in your weight lifting routine. Training to
complete failure means to train where it is physically impossible to perform one more repetition.Training at least one of your work sets
to complete failure will produce optimal growth. Training to failure is a high intensity technique designed to stimulate optimal growth.
Beginners should not perform any failure sets for the first 3 months of the weight lifting routine.If, after 3 months you have
established correct training techniques and want to bring your weight lifting routine to the next level, consider training to complete failure
on at least one of your work sets. Remember to always use a spotter when training to failure.
How long should I rest between sets
Rest periods between sets will depend on your training goals. If you are a beginner, take as much resting time necessary to fully
recover from your sets without feeling dizzy or nauseated. It will take some time for your body to adjust to a new weight lifting routine.
It will take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks for your body to adjust to the new weight lifting routine.Generally, for compound movements
such as squats or barbell bent rows, you want to make sure you are completely recovered before attempting the next set.
How long should I rest between workouts
I can’t overstate the importance of getting quality rest between your weight lifting routines. It is vitally important that you get the
proper amount of rest in order to allow your body to grow.
The amount of rest necessary will depend on your age, genetics, and current state of health.If you are a beginner, you generally need
anywhere from two to three days rest.
Depending on your intensity levels, you may need more. Just remember that your body should never be sore before you go into a
workout. If your body is sore, take another day off. Your goal is to go into a workout feeling good, strong, and energized.
How much time should you spend weight lifting? This will depend on your goals and weight lifting routine. Beginners should spend
anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes in the gym. Intermediate and advanced trainers should spend anywhere from 30 minutes to
60 minutes training.
There is no hard and fast rule as to how much time you spend training. The important point to remember is deciding how much time
is needed to get the job done. Remember to cut the chit chat and focus completely on the weight lifting routine and exercises.
Stretching is very important.I recommend that you get into the habit of stretching once or twice a day, before, during and after your
weight lifting sessions and on non training days.Stretching improves flexibility and if the muscles become tight and inflexible, blood flow
is impaired, thus reducing muscle contraction.
When stretching, make sure that you start slowly and hold for 5 to 15 seconds while maintaining good breathing. Do not force
yourself into stretching positions. It will take some time for you to develop good stretching techniques so be patient.
Be sure to include stretching in your weight lifting routine.
Warming up and cooling down
Try and get into the habit of warming up before your weight lifting sessions.
Warming up can consist of an aerobic activity such as riding the stationary bike, stair climber, elliptical trainer, or any other multitude
of aerobic activities.
Follow this up with a period of stretching. I usually ride the stationary bike for about 5 to 10 minutes before all workouts.This gets
my body warmed up and helps with the knee joints before a heavy leg day.Always include warm up exercises in your weight lifting routine.
It is very important that you breath correctly when doing your weight lifting exercises.Keep these basic rules of breathing in mind when
performing your weight lifting exercises:
1) Never hold your breath during the repetition
2) Breath in when your muscles are elongating and breath out when they are contracting
3) Try and keep your mouth open while performing your weight lifting exercises. By breathing through your mouth you equalize the
pressure in your chest.
Aerobic training is very important and I strongly suggest you include aerobic training in your weight lifting routine.
Aerobic training can be any type of exercise that causes your heart rate to increase and makes you breath harder than normal.
Don’t worry, your not going to have to join any “aerobics” classes to benefit from aerobic exercise.
Aerobic training is a very useful tool in fat burning. The body has two sources of energy; sugar and fat. Sugar or glycogen is stored
in the liver and muscle and is the easiest from of energy for your body to use.Glycogen is the bodies preferred source of energy.Fat on
the other hand, requires more work to be used as energy.
Why? The problem is that fat can be broken down only as long as oxygen is available.Oxygen must be present for your body to burn
fat for energy, but not to burn glycogen. In the initial stages of exercise, oxygen is not yet available.
It can take anywhere from 20 to 35 minutes of constant exercise before fat is fully available to the muscles as fuel.Depending on your
current conditioning will determine how efficiently your body burns fat.Exercise, particularly aerobics, enhances the development of
capillaries to the muscle which in turn improves the blood flow where it’s needed.With better blood flow and improved oxygen uptake by
the muscles, your body becomes better adapted at building muscle.
This is the number one reason why you shouldn’t neglect the aerobic part of your training.
I recommend that your aerobics sessions be at least 15 to 20 minutes in length. Although beginners will want to take it easy when
first starting aerobic training.
Beginners will want to start off doing 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic training and increase the amount of “work” time when it feels
comfortable to do so.When doing aerobics training, shoot for training in your target heart range.
In order to find this range, take the number 220 and subtract your age in years(for example, if your 32, it would be 220 - 32 = 188),
then take that number and keep your heart rate within 60 to 80 percent of it (for example, take 188 x 60% = 113 beats per minute).
Try and stick to this range while you train.Make sure that you record these numbers in your training log.Remember the above noted
points while you are putting your weight lifting routine together and you should be fine.