Getting the most benefit and efficiency from your weight lifting workouts requires understanding the keys to success in strength training. By maximizing the potential benefit of your weight lifting workouts, you can spend the least amount of time in the gym required to achieve your fitness and conditioning goals. In this article, we’re going to take a look at out top tips for effective and efficient weight lifting workouts.
Tip #1: Form, form, and form
When most of us begin incorporating weigh lifting workouts into our overall fitness plan to gain lean muscle mass, we mistakenly assume that heavy weight loads hold the key to big gains. The fact of the matter is that proper form is the best way to achieve effectiveness with your strength training. By utilizing proper exercise form, you are activating and working the specific muscle that you intend to stress and you reduce your dependence on additional muscle groups to progress through your reps and sets.
Tip #2: Incorporate multi joint exercises into your weight lifting workouts
Try to utilize exercises which require movement from more than one body joint. Examples of this include the bench press (elbow and shoulders) and the leg press (hips and knees). By using multi joint exercises in your weight lifting workouts, you stimulate more muscle fibers and actually increase your calorie expenditure, which in turn helps to decrease body fat while increasing lean muscle mass.
Tip #3: Rest between training days
This is one of the most often overlooked aspects of strength training. Your muscle tissue only grows when it is allowed adequate rest and recovery time. By allowing one or two days in between your weight lifting workouts, you give your body time to regenerate tissue and gain muscle mass much more rapidly.
Tip #4: Always record your progress
Many of us head to the gym week after week and simply add or subtract weigh loads depending on feel, rather than on data. By keeping an accurate log of your training sessions, you will be able to monitor your progress and increase weight loads in a consistent and methodical fashion, rather than haphazardly guessing. This will lead to larger gains in less training time.
By utilizing the tips above to maximize the effectiveness of your weight lifting workouts, you’ll be able to experience greater gains with less time in the gym.
As you’ll notice with articles here at Weight Lifting Workouts, we tend to alternate between presenting workouts and overall exercise and nutrition advice. Using weight lifting workouts to increase your physical fitness is never a one-dimensional approach. Understanding the larger landscape of how proper nutrition and exercise choices work together to boost your physical and mental well-being is essential to a well-rounded exercise regimen and healthy lifestyle.
In this article, we’re going to present 7 simple steps to keep in mind for maintaining effectiveness with your weight lifting workouts. These are key fundamentals which are always worth reviewing.
We discussed effective warm up techniques for weight lifting workouts in a separate recent post, but this is critical to an effective program. Without a proper warm up, not only are your weight lifting workouts less effective, but you increase your chances of injury.
Use simple free weight compound exercises
If you’re serious about effectively utilizing weight lifting workouts to build lean muscle mass, your best bet is most often to stick to the tried and true. Use the simple free weight compound exercises that work various major muscle groups with one motion such as the bench press, squats, dead lifts, and curls.
Limit your training to one hour
Weight lifting workouts tend to lose effectiveness rapidly after the 60 minute point due to a marked decrease in hormone production. Try to squeeze your routine into this time frame for maximum effectiveness.
When starting out, use heavy weights and low reps
After your initial high rep adaptation phase of 3 to 4 weeks, move to heavier resistance and low repetition training of around 6 to 8 reps per set. This will help you build sizable initial gains in strength before progressing onward.
When building your weight lifting workouts, create your splits so that each training day is only focused on one or two body parts. While it may be tempting to cram in a full body routine due to time constraints, it’s not a strategy for building muscle mass.
Recover between sets
You may have noticed how two or three minutes of rest between sets allows sufficient time for you to better execute your next set. Try to allow enough rest time in between your sets to get the most of the following set.
Remember to stretch
Not to preach here, but stretching provides a couple of key benefits for your weight lifting workouts. It prevents injury, but at the same time increases blood flow to specific muscle groups, thereby increasing the effectiveness of your prescribed exercises.
Follow these fundamental tips and you’ll squeeze more effectiveness from your weight lifting workouts each time you visit the gym.
So you’ve been getting to the gym for your weight lifting workouts for several weeks now and you’ve learned quite a bit during this initial phase. You learned proper technique, your nutrition is focused, and your weight lifting workouts have some consistency.
This may be a time of great initial gains for you as well. You’re probably starting to put on some lean muscle mass and the scale is rewarding you for your hard efforts. But where do you head next? You probably haven’t hit a plateau yet, but are ready to progress to the next phase and begin intermediate weight lifting workouts to continue your progression and mix things up mentally.
In this article, we’re going to present an intermediate workout designed to be preceded by an introductory routine. Visit the “Beginner Weight Lifting Workouts” page in the navigation bar if you’re not quite to this point yet and you’ll find some great routines to get started with.
Weight Lifting Workouts Selection: Intermediate 4 Day Split Routine
Frequency: 4 Days per Week
Workout Durations: 1 hour, including 15 warm-up (see Warming Up for Weight Lifting Workouts)
NOTE: Perform days 1 and 2 consecutively then include a rest day prior to conducting days 3 and 4 consecutively
Chest and Triceps
Bench Press: 10 – 8 – 6
Dips: 2 sets to failure
Incline Dumbbell Press: 8 – 8
Triceps Extension: 8 – 8
Close Grip Bench Press: 8 – 8
Triceps Pushdown: 10
Leg Press: 10 – 8
Squats: 10 – 8
Stiff Leg Deadlift: 15 – 12
Leg Curl: 10 – 8
Seated Calf Raise: 12 – 10
Shoulders and Traps
Dumbbell Press: 10 – 8
Military Press: 10 – 8 – 6
Bent Over Lateral: 10
Side Lateral 10 – 8
Dumbbell Shrug: 10 – 8
Biceps, back, and forearms
Pull Up: 2 sets to failure
Bent Over Row: 10 – 8 – 6
Lat Pulldown: 10 – 8
Deadlift: 15 – 12
Dumbbell Curl: 10 – 8
Dumbbell Wrist Curl: 10
Close Grip Barbell Curl: 10 – 8
This intermediate program can add incremental gains to the progress you’ve already achieved. Conduct this routine for six to eight weeks prior to progressing or altering your weight lifting workouts and you’ll see impressive results.
One of the most neglected aspects of weight lifting workouts is a proper warm-up. Many of us tend to rush into the gym and start cranking out our weight lifting workouts without allowing our body to properly prepare for the upcoming training session. By doing this, we not only increase the risk of injuries, but our workouts also become less effective. Since warm-ups don’t provide a physical benefit that we’re actually able to see, they’re easy to overlook. However, by taking the time to incorporate a proper warm-up into your weight lifting workouts, you will enhance your overall workout performance and achieve results more quickly.
Generally, exercise warm-ups are broken down into two categories: general and specific. General warm-ups are likely what you’re most familiar with. We head to the gym and prior to starting our weight lifting workouts, we hop on the treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike for 10 minutes. This type of warm-up is actually very ineffective for preparing your physiology for strength training. For one thing, it completely neglects the need for increased blood flow in the upper body musculature. Secondly, it does nothing to prepare your joints for the added strain of strength training.
A far better way to prepare for your weight lifting workouts is the muscle-specific warm-up. This style of warm-up is used to increase blood flow and joint flexibility in the specific physical areas which you will be training while you lift.
Throughout this type of warm-up you are preparing your central nervous system to engage in specific repetitive movements. You’re essentially going to be adding a few light weight sets to your overall training session which will prepare your body for the increased weight loads to follow. Here we will present a quick, yet effective 3-set muscle -specific ramp up which will help you decrease your chances of sustaining an injury and also achieve your strength training results more quickly.
Weight Lifting Workouts Selection: 3-Set Ramp Up
Workout Duration: 5 minutes
Guidelines: Choose one exercise that will engage the specific muscle groups which you will be training during your workout. Using your intended first-set weight load, multiply that load by the percentage listed for each set below and conduct the prescribed number of reps.
As you can see, this warm-up takes almost no time to complete, yet will increase the effectiveness of your weight lifting workouts by building blood volume in the specific muscle groups which you intend to train for the day.
No matter whether you’ve been doing weight lifting workouts for several years or are just getting started, motivation can sometimes be difficult to maintain. At some time or another, we’ve probably all dealt with a lack of fitness motivation and as our lives fill up with various commitments, weight lifting workouts can often be one of the first priorities to hit the bottom of your daily to-do list. In this article, we’re going to share our top 5 tips to boost your motivation and get you excited to get to the gym and fit your training routine into your day.
Write Down Your Plan
The first step in staying motivated for your weight lifting workouts is to develop a plan. Without a written training program, you’re much less likely to achieve your training goals. Set goals, write them down, and even take the time to share those goals with family or friends. If you have others holding you accountable, you’ll carry more motivation into your workouts.
Make Small Changes
One of the primary factors for getting derailed on your path to achieving your training goals is a radical shift in routines or schedule. Once you decide on your goals and training plan, stick with it for a while. And when you decide to makes changes to your program, start with small incremental changes, for instance altering the number of sets or reps in your weight lifting workouts. Don’t change your entire routine every time you flip open the latest fitness magazine and see Mr. Olympia’s new workout. You need to make steady and gradual progress toward your goals.
Know When Change is Necessary
While small changes to your workout routines are good, it’s also necessary to mix up your training style from time to time. You may want to gradually progress from one program to another and phase in a completely new routine over time. Additionally, in order to stay mentally fresh and motivated for your weight lifting workouts, you should add in alternative training from time to time. Try something new one day every couple of weeks like yoga or martial arts, and you’ll keep your mind stimulated for your next workout as opposed to just grinding out the same routine 4 or 5 days a week.
Find a Training Partner
If you’ve been lifting for any amount of time, you’re probably aware of the motivational benefits of having a training partner to work out with. Having someone else holding you accountable for showing up at the gym makes it a lot harder to pass up your training session. Having someone to train with and talk to in the gym can go a long way in maintaining progression toward your goals.
Reward Yourself for Hitting Your Goals
Sometimes we view fitness as an all-encompassing goal which requires is to live a monk-like lifestyle and avoid all of those guilty pleasures like burgers and beers. However, guilt leads to resentment and if you don’t take the time to reward yourself for incremental achievements along the path to your goals, your weight lifting workouts will become a burden. Try not to take your fitness so seriously that you forget to reward yourself for the hard work you’ve done along the way.
Finding the motivation to stick with your training can often be a difficult task, but try mixing things up with these 5 tips and you’ll be much more likely to look forward to each and every one of your weight lifting workouts.
By now you’re probably familiar with the concept of HIT, or high intensity training, weight lifting workouts. This form of strength training has been around for decades now, but still has many fundamental principles behind it that can produce massive gains with a relatively minimal investment in time.
So What Are HIT Weight Lifting Workouts?
HIT training utilizes high intensity controlled efforts to stimulate increases in lean muscle mass. The theory is founded on the principle that you don’t need to conduct weight lifting workouts frequently or for long periods of time, but that intensity holds the key to stimulating huge muscle gains.
As strength abilities increase, the concept involves increasing the weight loads in a progressive fashion to continually stimulate adequate overload to cause muscle gains. Because of the inverse relationship of how hard you can lift and how long you can lift, these training sessions are unusually short in duration. Because of the level of intensity with HIT weight lifting workouts, adequate rest and recovery is vital to seeing any real gains with this training strategy.
Many followers of the HIT approach will continually stress the importance of exacting proper form with this method. Specifically, it is best to avoid any jerking or bouncing movements that can lead to injury when using very high weight loads. There are many variations on the HIT-style workout, with some of these advocating slow, natural lifting movements and others bordering on the extreme slow end of the lifting spectrum with single reps sometimes taking up to 30 seconds.
Let’s take a look at a sample HIT weight lifting workout…
Weight Lifting Workouts Selection: 2-Day HIT Split
Workout Durations: 45 Minutes
Training Frequency: 2 Days per Week
Again, this type of workout is not for everyone, but if you are stuck in a plateau or pressed for time, give HIT training a shot. You can utilize this type of routine for a 4 to 6 week period to break through plateaus with your weight lifting workouts and get back to gains with as little as an hour and a half per week.
Here at Weight Lifting Workouts, we often focus so much on providing information that will help you reach your mass building or weight management goals that we don’t take a step back to reiterate some of the secondary benefits of lifting workouts and regular exercise. Certainly one of the benefits you likely never thought could come from your weight lifting workouts is better sleep. However, when you engage in regular physical activity, you will actually help to regulate your sleep cycles and subsequently sleep better at night. You didn’t think you could actually lift your way to better sleep, did you? Perhaps we’ll cover lifting your way to better sex in a future article, but for now, that’s off-topic.
Many individuals who engage in regular weight lifting workouts and cardiovascular activity will find that they do tend to experience better overall sleep. The primary driving factor behind this correlation is the role that exercise plays in regulating the transitions between the phases and cycles of sleep which we experience each night. Activity actually helps to make these various transitions more regular and smooth.
A scientific study which was recently executed at the Stanford Medical School illustrates that these correlations do hold up in the real world. Researchers selected a large group of middle-aged individuals with a history of insomnia. The subjects were asked to begin a regular exercise routine several times per week. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that on average, the test subjects experienced a drastic reduction in the length of time required to fall asleep. The average subject actually experienced a 50% reduction in the time it took to doze off for the night. Additionally, these individuals were able to stay asleep throughout the night for one full hour longer.
The study confirms two basic correlations between weight lifting workouts or cardiovascular activity and sleep patterns. The first is that a lack of physical exercise prevents the body from experiencing necessary fluctuations in body temperature rhythms throughout the course of the day that are necessary for good sleep. Secondly, regular physical activity actually makes these fluctuations in body temperature more pronounced, which can lead to even better sleep. When you participate in cardio or weight lifting workouts, you increase the body’s core temperature to a very elevated level. The body compensates 2 to 4 hours later by reducing body temperature by a corresponding amount. This drop in body temperature several hours after exercise can actually help induce sleep.
Now before you start heading do the gym and doing your weight lifting workouts right before bedtime to help you combat sleeplessness, you need to keep in mind that exercise produces other effects on the body that can prohibit sleep right afterwards. We generally all experience an elevated heart rate and increased endorphin production immediately following exercise, and these are two factors that help to increase the body’s energy levels. So the lesson here is that exercise can help you sleep, but it’s best to conduct your training sessions in the morning or afternoon. This gives your body time to “come down” prior to going to bed.
So, there you have it. You may not have guessed it, but there is actually scientific evidence that your weight lifting workouts can help you get a good night’s rest.
If you’ve looked around on the internet for any weight lifting workouts, you may have noticed that the majority of them require quite a bit of time. We all tend to lead pretty busy lives these days and from time to time your weight lifting workouts can take a back seat to other priorities in your life. It’s one of the first things that many of us tend to brush aside when our schedule gets filled up. Here at Weight Lifting Workouts, one of our primary goals is to offer you workouts and routines that you’re easily able to integrate into your lifestyle. If fitness becomes a chore, you’re much more likely to veer off the course that will eventually lead you to your goals.
This particular routine from Weight Lifting Workouts is a ten minute per day, 4 day split. You’re probably wondering whether or not it’s possible to actually get yourself into shape with as little as ten minutes per day. This really isn’t to be considered a cornerstone or foundation routine. If you happen to have an insanely busy week or are on the road with travel plans, this lifting workout can help to maintain your existing strength and fitness levels. This is intended to provide your body with a surge to your cardiovascular and muscular systems that will increase blood flow for short periods of time. In turn, this can provide adequate maintenance for shorter periods of a week or so to prevent loss of muscle mass.
This weight lifting workout is intended to be completed in a circuit fashion, using super sets. The listed exercises can be completed in around ten minutes per day if they are carried out in this manner. They’ll provide a nice jolt to your heart rate as well.
Weight Lifting Workouts Selection: 10 Minute 4-Day Split Routine
Objectives: Cardiovascular and Muscular Maintenance
Workout Durations: 4 day split, 10 minutes per day
Even though this routine is presented as a 4 day split workout, it’s best not to conduct the routine more than two days in a row. A day of rest in between is advisable.
|Day 1 Circuits x 4||Leg Circuit (Repetitions per circuit)|
|Calf raise||20 – 20 – 20|
|Squat||10 – 8 – 6 – 4|
|Day 2 Circuits x 3||Arms (Repetitions per circuit)|
|Dip||10 – 8 – 6|
|Standing Dumbbell Curl||10 – 8 – 6|
|Tricep Extension||10 – 10 – 10|
|Incline Curl||10 – 8 – 6|
|Day 3 Circuits x 3||Trapezius / Back (Repetitions per circuit)|
|Lat Pulldown||8 – 8 – 8|
|Barbell Row||12 – 10 – 8|
|Shoulder Shrug||15 – 15 – 15|
|Seated Cable Row||12 – 10 – 8|
|Day 4 Circuits x 3||Deltoids / Chest|
|Dips||12 – 12 – 12|
|Dumbbell Flyes||10 – 10 – 10|
|Seated Dumbbell Press||12 – 12 – 12|
|Dumbbell Press||10 – 10 – 10|
Once again, this particular regimen is intended for cardiovascular and muscular maintenance. However, if you happen to have been away from training for an extended period of time, you may choose to utilize this as a warm-up or preparation routine for four to six weeks prior to engaging in heavier weight lifting workouts.
One of the foremost motivations for utilizing weight lifting workouts in our day to day routine is to lose and maintain body weight. For some men, the primary aim is to actually put on some weight, but for the rest of us, we are actually hoping to shed a few pounds. This could be to reduce our risk of heart disease or to simply feel a little better about our bodies. The problem is that it isn’t effective to simply implement one of the weight lifting workouts listed on this site to meet your weight loss goals. Theoretically, you could stay in the gym doing lifting workouts for 4 hours a day, 365 days a year, however, if you consume 4,000 calories per day in high-fat foods, you still won’t lose weight.
In this article at Weight Lifting Workouts, we are introducing a simple equation to help you calculate your caloric expenditure throughout the day. If you are able to manage the calories you consume during the day and also head to the gym for cardiovascular exercise and weight lifting workouts a few times a week, you will be able to shed weight by increasing your total daily caloric expenditure. This isn’t rocket science and we all know this is the way it works, it’s just that sometimes we don’t fully understand the process of calories in and calories out throughout the course of a day.
As an approximation, the standard rule of thumb you need to remember to achieve weight loss is as follows:
1 lb of weight loss = 3,500 calories burned
This is important to keep in mind. If you’re goal is to lose one pound of weight, you need a 3,500 calorie caloric deficit. Now before you jump ahead and decide you’re going to go on a very low calorie diet (VLCD) and lose 5 pounds in a week, you have to realize this is not a healthy or sustainable method of losing weight. A healthier method to achieve that pound of weight loss is to try to create a reasonable and sustainable deficit of perhaps 500 calories each day so that you can lose one pound each week. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you can achieve this is 10 weeks.
I only use the example of creating a caloric deficit of 500 calories a day because it is a reasonable expectation for most of us without introducing any sort of radical shifts in our diet or lifestyle. There is a sea of scientific evidence in the field of weight loss management that indicates that major changes to your diet and exercise in a short period of time lead to burn out. You need to set goals that you can work at over a long period of time. And you need to be able to enjoy life along the way. If you go out with the guys for happy hour after work and sip water while they’re having a couple of beers, you’re probably not going to be enjoying the journey. It’s alright to have a light beer or enjoy small indulgences here and there to keep yourself moving toward your weight loss goals.
The formula to determine caloric expenditure is pretty straightforward and begins with calculating your individual REE, or resting energy expenditure. This employs a rough approximation based on your current weight in kilograms and your age. There are other highly scientific ways to come up with this number and if you’re really interested in an accurate assessment, you can have your REE calculated professionally. Just ask a trainer or staff member at your local gym and they can point you in the right direction.
|REE APPROXIMATION FOR MEN|
|18 years to 29 years||(15.3 x weight in kgs) + 679|
|30 years to 60 years||(11.6 x weight in kgs) + 879|
|Over 60 years||(13.5 x weight in kgs) + 487|
158 pound man, age 41
158 pounds / 2.2 = 72 kgs
(11.6 x 72 kgs) + 879 = 1,714 REE calories
All this means is that if you were to lie in bed the entire day, a 158 pound 41-year-old man would expend 1,714 calories for the day to sustain basic metabolic processes. Now, there are many other factors which can have an effect on this number. This can include genetics, current body composition, and other environmental factors like cold weather (which increases REE) or caffeine consumption (which also raises metabolism).
Now that we have an approximation of resting energy expenditure, we can begin to factor in additional calories expended through weight lifting workouts or cardio training. For cardiovascular exercise, it’s very likely that the equipment you use can approximate your caloric expenditure during your workout, but if not, you can search the web for one of the many calculators that can give you this number according to your age and weight. And generally speaking, moderate intensity weight lifting workouts burn an average of 457 calories per hour for a 158 pound male.
As an example, let’s assume you do 20 minutes of cardio on the treadmill and your weight lifting workouts take 45 minutes. Running on a treadmill at 7 miles an hour (moderate intensity) expends 876 calories per hour for the 158 pound male in our example. That comes to 15 calories a minute, so the treadmill burns 300 calories. The weight lifting workouts break down to about 8 calories a minute, so 45 minutes burns another 360 calories, for a total of a 660 calorie workout.
1,714 REE calories + 660 calories burned during exercise = 2,374 calories burned
I will generally increase this number by 10% since we don’t actually lie in bed all day and burn the minimum REE and gym calories. We do a few things around the house, run around the office, and generally probably live fairly busy lives that burn a few additional calories.
2,374 x 110% = 2,611 total caloric expenditure
We’re now able to recognize and estimate that creating that daily deficit in calories of 500 will require restricting our consumption to:
2,611 – 500 = 2,111 total caloric consumption.
This is a reasonable expectation if you can stick to low-fat, healthy food choices during the day with the occasional exception. Even if you can’t limit your food intake this much, you could shoot for a deficit of 250 calories and still reach your goal of losing 10 pounds over the course of 20 weeks.
You can start to see just how critical having an exercise routine is in losing weight. If you’re planning to set weight loss goals for yourself, it is absolutely critical to get to set up a plan for cardiovascular exercise and weight lifting workouts.
Here at Weight Lifting Workouts, we try and continually provide a wide range of regimens that you can pick from to fulfill your current exercise and weight management goals. Even so, as with any training routine, one of the fundamentals for many weight lifting workouts for men is the bench press exercise. It is an activity which we are almost all experienced with and likely have been since school. It is the defacto standard by which many athletes and power lifters determine their progress. For several men, it has become a life-encompassing objective to achieve the zenith of bench pressing bragging rights.
Despite the fact that there are arguments as to how the bench press started as an activity and when its widespread popularity and introduction into weight lifting workouts became commonplace, there’s no denying its effectiveness for increasing chest and pectoral mass. It’s conceivably the single most fundamental and ancient of human activities; pressing the arms directly forward into a load of resistance. This simplicity seems to have likely been a primary factor for its appeal. There are thousands of “home gyms” that consist of practically nothing more than a flat bench and a barbell stand.
Efficiency may also be an appealing aspect of the bench press. This one simple movement can certainly build strength and size with a remarkably minimal volume of sets and repetitions assuming a person is capable of training with an ample weight load. Nevertheless, for the bench press to be an efficient and productive action, it has to be completed the right way. At Weight Lifting Workouts, we will from time to time be taking a brief break from posting regimens to take a step back and deliver some facts on sound form. After all, if you speed through your weight lifting workouts lacking proper form, in the end it will take a lot longer to notice good results, if they occur at all.
Six Steps to the Perfect Press
1. After loading the barbell with an acceptable weight load, find a flat bench and then lay down flat on your back.
2. Grip the bar using a medium-width grip which places the hands just wider than the shoulders. You should focus on creating two 90 degrees angle with your arms when the bar reaches the middle of the bench press.
3. Lift the bar straight up until your arms lock at the elbows and are completely straight.
4. Take a breath in while lowering the barbell using a slow and controlled motion. Bring it all the way down to the chest. The correct spot to finish in is with the bar just above the nipple at the middle of the pectoral muscle.
5. Take a brief pause and then breathe out while you press the bar directly up to the original position. Keep the lower back arched just slightly while pressing upward. Be certain to concentrate on utilizing the pecs to press the bar up and when you get close to the original starting position, think about squeezing together your chest muscles to be sure to finish with a full range of motion.
6. Perform repeatedly using carefully controlled form until you are finished completing the intended quantity of reps.
And that really is about it: the steps to a perfect flat bench press. Don’t be worried about asking another gym member to spot for you. We have all done it before and having a little motivation from a fellow gym member can provide the extra motivation required to knock out that lest rep or two. And just like with any activity, don’t be enticed to load up the bar with too much weight on your first set. Concentrate on proper form and you will notice far better gains than if you perform sloppy repetitions with too much weight for boasting rights. Stay tuned to Weight Lifting Workouts for future tips on perfect form!