Weight Training Exercises - FAQs
What are recommended safety precautions?
Because weight training exercises require you to move mass (and oftentimes heavy mass) around there are several safety precautions you should take in order to avoid getting injuries.
Generally it is often recommended to warm up before engaging in taxing physical activity.
This usually takes the form of light physical exercise before moving on to more serious exercises.
Furthermore, personal trainers usually recommend that their customers engage in stretching exercises either before or after exercising in weight training.
Engaging in stretching exercises has the benefit of loosening up the muscles as well as adding flexibility and are recommended in an effort to reduce the risk of injuries.
How to exercise using proper form?
Because weight training involves moving mass around (which can lead to injuries) and because the objective is to strengthen specific muscle groups it is important to use proper form in order to minimize the risk of the former and to be successful in the latter.
You will use proper form if you use the following guidelines:
- You slowly pick up weights from the floor and slowly replace them using contracted muscles (i.e. you don't drop weights on the floor).
- You perform your motions at a slow pace without using swift movements (i.e. you don't rush through your reps).
- You try to focus the resistance on the muscles being targeted (i.e. you don't cheat by using other muscles).
How many sets or reps (i.e. repetitions) to use for weight training exercises?
Because muscles can be developed for different purposes there are different ways to exercise in weight training.
Generally you'll want to choose from the following three choices for every weight training exercise you use in your workout routine.
1 - Muscle Size and Power (approx.: 3 sets of 6-8 reps)
As the name implies, the muscle power objective can be pursued if you want to achieve maximum size in your muscles or if you want them to be explosively strong (i.e. very powerful for short bursts at a time).
In order to develop muscles this way you'll want to use no more than 3 sets in which no more than 8 reps are used.
Muscle size and power is often used for muscles that are prominently displayed on the human figure, such as the pectorals, or the biceps and triceps.
2 - Muscle Strength (approx.: 4 sets of 10-12 reps)
The muscle strength objective is pursued when you want your muscles to be effective when a high number of repetitions will be involved, or in other words when you want your muscles to be strong for a continued period of time.
You'll want to use approximately 4 sets from which 10-12 reps are performed.
The muscle strength objective is often used for muscles located in your back and your abdominals.
3 - Muscle Endurance (approx.: 4 sets of 16-20 reps)
The muscle endurance objective is pursued when you want your muscles to be able to perform the same motions over an extended period of time or in other words when you want your muscles to be strong and not become tired rapidly.
You'll want to use at least 4 sets from which at least 16 repetitions are performed.
The muscle endurance objective is often used for muscles in your lower body, such as those located in your legs or your buttocks.
How much weight to use for any given weight training exercise?
Because the distribution of muscle strength is unique to each there is no short answer to this question.
A personal trainer simply cannot tell all his/her customers to perform a bench press using 100 pounds because it will be too difficult for some and too easy for others.
Rather the idea here is to use the right amount of weight that will make you successful in accomplishing the objective set previously (muscle power, strength or endurance).
For example, say you are pursuing a muscle power objective in which you have decided to perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions each. You'll want to make sure you don't add too much weight so that you are able to perform all 8 repetitions before your muscles are too tired to finish the set.
Conversely you'll want to make sure you add enough weight so that you are not simply breezing past the repetitions and finish your sets of plenty of energy still left in the tank.
While it may take a few workout sessions to find the right combination, once you'll do it'll be easy to monitor and increase weight as you progress.