Resistance exercise is one of the three major components in a healthy exercise programme, the other 2 being aerobic and flexibility training.
There’re numerous principles, which apply to all these modes of training and this article covers the basic principles, that should be applied to resistance exercise.
When preparing a resistance training programme it’s important to make sure that exercises are integrated to target every main muscle group in the body. This is imperative in order to keep a balanced body, avoiding possible muscle weaknesses, or postural problems. The primary areas to target are chest, back, arms, shoulders, quads, hamstrings and calves. In a few instances, several muscle group can be worked at a time by using compound exercises, but it’s still crucial to target each of the major muscle groups listed.
Another significant aspect to any resistance training programme is to permit enough rest for each muscle group between workouts. There’s little or no benefit to targeting the same muscle group more than once or twice every week, as when a muscle is worked, it requires adequate recovery time to repair and rebuild. Training splits are a wonderful way of avoiding muscle over training. A 3 day training split might look something like this:
Monday: biceps, back and hamstrings, Wednesday: quads, triceps, chest, Friday: shoulders, calves and abdominals
Another major element in any resistance training programme relates to the number of repetitions performed in each set of a particular exercise. The number of repetitions completed is directly related to the goals of the person. Training for muscular strength and toning generally needs 12 or more repetitions. Reps ranging from 8-12 stimulate muscular growth and muscular strength improvements are attained when rep ranges of 4-8 are used.
The final major element is progression. In order to enable your body to improve, you must continue to raise the stimulus on your muscles. This is attained by raising numbers of repetitions (whilst remaining within your desired rep range), increasing weights, or increasing the number of sets performed. It is also essential to change your exercises or training splits every 4-6 weeks to avoid plateaus in progress.