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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Beginning A Strength Training Program - By Jim Duggan

In my last article, I described a general plan for getting in shape and getting stronger. The beginning of a new year, traditionally, is a time to start an exercise regimen. For most trainees, their exercise goals fall into one of two general categories: Gaining muscular mass, or losing excess bodyweight. Generally, those who want to increase their muscle mass are younger. Beginners, in particular, want to gain size and strength. When it comes to losing weight, it is usually the "older" trainees whose goal it is to drop some unwanted pounds.

On the other hand, there many older trainees who don't necessarily want to lose weight. Rather, they still desire to build strength and lift heavy weights. There are many people who, having worked out in the past, wish to resume an exercise program. People fall into this category for any number of reasons. Job, career, and family responsibilities are the biggest reasons for discontinuing an exercise regimen.

Anyone who has any kind of medical problem, and those who have not been active, but are eager to begin, should check with a physician before embarking on a Strength Training program. Those who were never very active, but are now contemplating a weight-training program, should undergo a complete physical to be on the safe side. It makes no sense for a sedentary individual try engage in an intense strength-training. Such a mistake could lead to serious injury. Always be smart.

Those who trained in the past, and are in fairly decent condition, might have to make some adjustments, particularly if they find themselves lacking energy after their workouts. Sometimes it's better to reduce the number of sets of an exercise. Or even reduce the number of workouts performed in a given week. Many times, especially after a long layoff, people try to do too much. What makes things worse is if they try to follow the so-called "routines" found in the popular muscle magazines. Too often, these "routines" contain too many exercises , too many sets, and too many workouts per week without sufficient rest and recuperation. Sometimes, when it comes to lifting weights, less is more. You have to listen to your body. You know your capabilities better than anybody else. Perhaps you can't lift three days per week, or even twice per week. At least not at first. In that case, you should settle for once per week, until your body becomes accustomed to the increased load placed upon it.

Many trainees haven't actually trained hard for a long time. Perhaps even years. But they think they can do something they did when they were actively working out. As you get older, you have to train smarter. And sensibly. This means keeping your ego in check. That's why after laying off for a few months, most people, especially older trainees, will find that the weights they are using "feel heavy," when they resume training again.

Then there are the individuals who are beginning a training program who have never lifted weights before. Many times they are so hyped about training when they first start, they can't resist training to capacity every day. Most people who try such an approach lose interest and quit. We've all seen people like this. It's better to start slowly and keep your mind hungry for more. Do not overtrain. Remember, you can "burn out" mentally as well as physically. Slow and steady will always win the race when it comes to building lasting strength and health. Size and strength that is developed slowly will endure longer. Beware of anybody who tries to sell you on any shortcuts. That's why you should avoid the "muscle magazines. " They are not usually genres for a typical, drug-free trainee. In lifting, as in life,my out reap what you sow.

For those trainees who are over the age of 65, by all means continue to train. Just remember that there is no reason for anyone to attempt something that he/she has done two or three decades earlier. Yes, you should definitely lift weights if you can. If you continue to feel good about your training, then you don't have to make any changes to your program. However, if you find that you can only lift once per week, you can still engage in a comprehensive exercise program. Walking, swimming, riding a stationary bicycle are effective alternatives to lifting weights. Remember, you can do less lifting and still remain active. Just don't fall into the trap of inactivity. Don't just sit around and fall into a sedentary lifestyle. Try to be more methodical and remain active. By training sensibly, intelligently and consistently you can maintain your enthusiasm as well as your strength and health.

One of the most memorable quotes that I remember came from Bob Whelan's training facility. "Regular workouts = long-term investment strategy." I've always remembered this because it is so true. It's not some flashy, gimmicky sales pitch. It's an accurate description of how you should approach your strength training. We're all in this for the long haul. By following a common-sense approach, you will build lasting strength and enduring health.
BODY • MIND • SPIRIT