So you’ve decided to strength train, but do you have a well rounded strength training routine? There are many books and programs out there that will dispense information, but the bottom line is that you are very unique. Your goals, your fitness level, your experience and your personal strengths and weaknesses all make you unique.
The reason I bring this up is because unless you find a program that talks directly to YOU, you will have a hard time finding a routine that works for YOU.
A well rounded strength training routine should include 7 factors. If your routine is missing one of these 7 factors, I strongly recommend find a new program. The 7 factors are: reps, sets, rest, recovery, exercises, pace and change. Some specific details are below.
Well Rounded Strength Training Routine Factor #1- Reps. How many reps you need will depend on your goals. As a general guideline you want to work anywhere between 8-12 reps for adding lean muscle and toning up. Working at a rep range above 15 is for endurance training. Rep ranges under 8 are primarily used for adding muscle mass and higher gains in strength.
Well Rounded Strength Training Routine Factor #2- Sets. I like to stay between 3-5 sets for general health and fitness. Sets higher than 5 should be supervised and part of a program designed by a trainer specifically for you. Sets under 3 are primarily for powerlifting and 1RM work.
Well Rounded Strength Training Routine Factor #3- Rest. In between each set should be at least 1 minute of rest. This allows your muscles to gather back strength for the next set. The only time rest between sets may be skipped is during a superset. This is where you work one muscle and then immediately move to the next muscle and then back to the first muscle. Even under this circumstance, the first muscle is resting while you work the second muscle. So the rest period still exists.
Well Rounded Strength Training Routine Factor #4- Recovery. If you work your biceps today, they need to rest tomorrow. You should allow 48 hours of recovery between working the same muscle. This ensures proper rest. Gains in strength occur during your recovery day.
Well Rounded Strength Training Routine Factor #5- Exercises. You should do an exercise for each major muscle group. If you are just beginning I like to recommend a full body routine. You would choose an exercise for each muscle group and complete the proper amount of reps and sets that day.
You can split up your exercises and perform them on different days. For example you can do upper body today and lower body tomorrow. Work your larger muscles first (chest, back, quads, etc) and then work the smaller muscles (triceps, biceps, calves, etc).
Well Rounded Strength Training Routine Factor #6- Pace. A good rule of thumb is to move through each exercise by following the speed of your breathe. Exhale on the hard parts and inhale on the easy parts. Or another unit of measure is 2 seconds on the lift and 4 seconds on the lowering.
Well Rounded Strength Training Routine Factor #7- Change. You should change your strength training routine every 4-6 weeks. This will prevent your body from plateau’ing and keep things fresh.