TIPS FOR BEGINNERS: LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR MUSCULAR SIZE, STRENGTH AND EXPLOSIVE POWER.
If you missed Part I of “Laying the Foundation”, we suggest you click back on the July issue and start there.
As we mentioned in last’s months column, one of the most common mistakes beginning trainees make is to try to follow the routines of top bodybuilders as published in some of the more popular ‘muscle mags’. Unfortunately, the average untutored beginner usually fails to realize is that (a) only an experienced and/or genetically blessed individual – or one who is ‘chemically enhanced’ - could recuperate from such a program, and (b) the published routines are sometimes either exaggerated, especially in terms of poundages handled, or a figment of some ghostwriters imagination, and as a result more often than not ends up over trained, burned out, and totally frustrated. What the average beginning trainee should be following is the type of routine the bodybuilder or athlete used in the foundation period, the time when he was building, not refining.
If you are new to the wonderful world of resistance training, here are some tips to help you lay the foundation for muscular size, strength and explosive power.
* Start at a low level of effort and gradually increase.
Use compound movements with free weights as the basis of your workouts.
*Add resistance whenever possible. All things being equal, increased muscle strength translates to increased muscle size and functionality.
Stress good exercise form. As noted above, always strive to increase the resistance but never at the expense of proper exercise performance. Concentrate on every rep of every set and keep the tension on the target muscle or muscle group.
*Be consistent. Taking a killer workout one day and missing the next two sessions just puts you back two steps.
*Be intense. Bring your “A” game to the gym every time and your results will multiply accordingly.
*Learn the value of nutrition, mental attitude, and recuperation.
Now, for those new trainees who have completed Routine #1, here’s the next step:
ROUTINE #2 – SEMI-BEGINNER’S LEVEL
NOTE: The information presented herein is meant to serve as a general guideline and is not meant to be construed as a recommendation for any one individual personally.
While the first routine was built around exercises utilizing machines in order to allow the beginner to concentrate on ‘feeling’ muscle action as well to acclimate the muscles, joints and connective tissue to progressive resistance exercise, the second routine switches to free weights. Free weights involve not only the ‘target’ muscle or muscle group, but stabilizing and synergistic muscle groups as well. For example, in a machine bench press, the weight is ‘balanced’ as it moves along a fixed, two dimensional path. In a barbell bench press, stabilizing muscles are called into play to balance the weight as it moves in three planes of motion, thereby placing more demands on the overall muscular structure, enhancing motor skills, and providing what is sometimes referred to by strength coaches as ‘real world’ strength and functionality.
As we progress in routines we’ll be working with a mixture of free weights and machines to take make full use of the advantages provided by both.
As with routine #1, this routine should be performed three times per week, with at least one day’s rest between sessions (example: train on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Start with one set the first week, add a second set the second week, and a third set the third week. On exercises where there is a descending repetition pattern (12, 10, 8), use a light weight – approximately 70% of your maximum – for the first set, add approximately 15-20% for the second set, and use your maximum poundage for the required reps for the final set. Follow the routine below for four to six weeks.
Lying Knee In
Dumbell Calf Raise (one leg at a time)
Squat - or- Smith Squat
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Barbell Bench Press
Barbell Upright Row
Lying Tricep Press
As always, make haste slowly. Take your time and get the feel and balance of each exercise before adding weight. Follow this basic schedule for four to six weeks, then we’ll progress to the next level – the intermediate program.