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Personal Exercise Program
Introduction to Strength Training

Getting Started - Some Questions and Answers
Define your goals
Which program should I follow?
What's a rep?
How long should I rest?
How will I know if I am using proper form?
What about stretching?
How frequently should I exercise?

Beginner Program
Intermediate Program

Define your goals.
Every individual has different set of goals. Before you start, spend a few minutes thinking about what you would like to gain from your weight training program.
Here are some of the common goals:

  • Toning and firming the body
  • Increasing strength
  • Building muscle
  • Losing fat
  • General conditioning
  • Improving performance in a particular sport
Write down your goals and be sure they are realistic. Keep a log of your progress.

You will need some basic equipment including a flat or adjustable bench and some dumbbells.

Evaluate your daily routine and set aside three 30 minute time blocks per week if you are a beginner and four 30 minute time blocks per week if you in intermediate. Schedule the times in advance and stick with the schedule.

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Should I follow the beginning or intermediate program?
If you have been weight training for less than six months you are definitely a beginner. If you've taken a break from a weight training program for over a month you should also follow the beginning program for several weeks to a month before advancing to the intermediate level.

What is Bodypart Training?
Weight trainers group exercises or movements by bodypart and work one body part at a time. Each bodypart is worked with one to three or four exercises depending on your level of experience. Every bodypart should be strengthened to promote muscular balance and prevent injury.

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What's a "rep"?
"Rep", short for repetition, is a single execution of 1 exercise. Beginners will want to perform 12 to 20 reps of each exercise. Intermediate weight trainers typically perform 8 to 12 reps of each exercise but this will vary depending on your goals because different numbers of reps achieve different results:

  • For increased endurance or to tone and firm, perform 12-20 reps.
  • For increased muscularity, perform 8-12 reps.
  • For increased strength, perform 6-8 reps.

What's a "set"?
A "set" is a combination of any number of repetitions of a single exercise performed without resting.

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How long should I rest?
In general, you should rest about 45 to 90 seconds between sets. Larger muscle groups, like quadriceps will take longer to recover than a small muscle group like the biceps.

How much weight should I use?
During the first 2 or 3 sessions you will want to use light weights to get a feel for the exercise and learn the proper form. As you become more comfortable with the movement, begin adding small amounts of weight until it is difficult to complete one set of 15 or 20 reps using the proper form. After you can do 3 sets of 15-20 reps, it is time to increase the weight so that, once again it is difficult to complete one set of 15 or 20 reps using good form. Continue to increase sets up to a total of three and then add more weight and so on.

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How will I know if I'm using proper form?
We have included photographs and instructions of each exercise in the beginner and intermediate programs. Read and follow the instructions carefully and completely. Proper execution of each movement is extremely important because it ensures the exercise is effective and guards against injury.
In general, make sure you:

  • Maintain good standing or seated posture during each exercise.
  • If standing, place you feet about shoulder width apart to establish a firm base.
  • Perform the movements slowly, during both the lifting and lowering parts of the exercise.
  • Use the proper amount of weight. You should be able to control the weight throughout the movement.
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When should I stretch?
Stretching should be performed either immediately after your 5-10 minute cardio warmup or immediately after you complete your weight training session. Be sure to stretch at each workout. This will help prevent injuries and increase your flexibility.

How can I tell if I'm training too hard or not hard enough?
Your body will tell you the day after your workout if you have trained with enough intensity. It is normal to feel a slight degree of muscle soreness for about 24 hours beginning the day after a workout. If you feel extremely stiff and sore or if the soreness lasts for 2-3 days after your workout, you overdid it. Back off a little. If you feel absolutely no soreness, you probably didn't push yourself quite hard enough.

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How frequently should I workout?
Generally, beginners work out 3 times each week with at least 48 hours between sessions to allow the muscles to recover. Intermediates workout 4 times per week with at least 48 hours between workouts for the same body parts.

How long should my workout last?
A weight training session should typically take 30 minutes to an hour to complete. If it take longer than an hour you are either resting too long between sets or you are doing too many sets or exercises.

What about warming up?
Always warm up prior to beginning your session. This will help you to prevent injury. To warm up properly, perform 5 to 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise such as cycling, walking, jogging or calisthenics. You will know you are sufficiently warm when you are beginning to sweat. Be sure you always do a light warmup set for each bodypart before you begin.

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Beginner Program
Intermediate Program
Return to Introduction to Exercise

Not all exercises or diets are suitable for everyone. Before you begin this program, you should have permission from your doctor to participate in vigorous exercise and change of diet. If you feel discomfort or pain when you exercise, do not continue. The instructions and advice presented are in no way intended as a substitute for medical counseling. The creators, producers, participants and distributors of this site disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the exercise and advice provided here.

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