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General Guidelines for Strength Training

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General Guidelines for Strength Training

1. Train with a high level of intensity. It has been shown that the harder you train (intensity), the greater the adaptive response. A high level of intensity is characterized by performing an exercise to the point of concentric (positive) muscular failure, i.e., you've exhausted your muscles to the extent that the weight cannot be moved for any more repetitions.

2. Follow the "double progression" technique in regards to repetitions and weight. For a muscle to increase in size and strength it must be forced to do progressively harder work. Your muscles must be overloaded with a workload that is increased steadily throughout the course of your program, often referred to as progressive overload. Therefore every time you work out you should attempt to increase either the weight you use or the repetitions you perform relative to your previous workout.

Each time you attain the maximum number of repetitions, you should increase the resistance for your next workout. The point to remember is that the weight must always be challenging. The resistance should be increased in an amount that you are comfortable with, usually approximately 5-10%

3. Perform one-two sets of each exercise. In order for a muscle to increase in size/strength it must be fatigued or overloaded for an adaptive response to occur. It really doesn't matter whether you fatigue your muscles in one set or several sets - as long as your muscles experience a certain level of exhaustion. Numerous research studies have shown that there are no significant differences when performing either one, two or three sets of an exercise, provided, of course, that one is done with an appropriate level of intensity, to the point of concentric muscular failure.

4. Reach concentric (lifting phase) muscular failure within a prescribed number of repetitions. The general recommendation is 8-12 reps, but this can vary from individual to individual and for different body parts and depending on the individuals goals. Normally, a rep scheme may be anywhere from 6-10 to 12-15.

5. Perform each repetition with proper form. This one we can't stress enough as it's such a common mistake, especially among young trainees. A repetition should be performed by raising and lowering the weight in a deliberate, controlled manner.

So how many seconds per repetition? The general guideline is a 6 second repetition consisting of a 2 second lifting (concentric) phase, followed by a 4 second lowering (eccentric) phase. The emphasis is placed on the lowering, or negative, as research has shown this to be the most productive part of the rep. Thus in a 8-12 rep scheme with the above guidelines, each set should take you between 48-72 seconds until you reach concentric muscular failure.

NOTE: Do not pause at any point of the range of motion to let the muscles rest.

6. Train for no more than one hour per workout. If you are training with a high level of intensity, more than one hour is counterproductive, as it increases the probability of overtraining due to a catabolic hormone called cortisol. Overtraining, next to injury, is your worst enemy.

7. Move quickly between sets. The transition time between each set varies with your level of conditioning. You should proceed from one exercise to the next as soon as



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