Weight Training 101
Weight Training: Research in exercise training has led to the recognition of a number of general principles of conditioning. These principles must be applied for a successful exercise program. – R.Barnett
Adaptation is the unique ability of the human body to adapt or adjust its functional capacity to meet desired needs. This is the root of all training and conditioning.
This means that if one desires to develop strength, resistance or strengthening exercises must be employed. This principle is simple; however, it is frequently ignored. There are many fraudulent claims for an exercise system that promises overall physical fitness from one simple training technique.
Overload, means that to improve any aspect of physical fitness you must continually increase the demands placed on the appropriate body systems. To develop strength, progressively heavier weights must be lifted.
Individuals frequently make the mistake of attempting too rapid a fitness change. An example is a middle-aged man who has done no exercise for 20 years and suddenly begins a vigorous training program. The result is frequently an injury.
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how rapidly you should progress. In general it might be reasonable not to progress to higher levels of weight training more often than every one or two weeks.
Another important practice is to gradually warm-up. Start the exercise session slowly and gradually taper off at the end. The warm-up allows various body systems to adjust to increased metabolic demands. The heart rate increases, blood flow increases, and muscle temperatures rise.
Slow walking and stretching for 20 minutes or more at the beginning of your training is a good practice. At the and end of your exercise session slow walking and stretching for five minutes is recommended. At the end of the five minutes the heart rate should be less than 120 beats per minute for weightlifters under 50 years of age.
Frequency, Intensity, and Duration
It is generally agreed that to build muscle size and strength, weight training must be performed on a regular basis. A frequency of about every other day or three days per week appears minimally sufficient.
The intensity of exercise required to produce benefits has been the subject of much study. Regular weight training at approximately 80% of your one-rep-max (1RM) is adequate to improve musculature.
In terms of general fitness, a reliable way to gauge exercise intensity is to measure the heart rate during exercise. Maximal heart rate can be estimated by subtracting one’s age in years from 205, and multiply the result times 80%. Exercising at 80% of intensity will improve physiologic functioning and provide health benefits.
I recommend that weight-training sessions be between 20 minutes and one hour. More or less is generally not recommended.