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Strength training is a critical part of a complete fitness program. It builds strength, lowers injury risk, helps decrease body fat and build bone density. As you decide what your strength training program will look like, there are several variables to consider:
Repetitions (reps) – A single repetition is one count of an exercise from start to finish.
Sets – A certain number of repetitions done in series.
Repetition Maximum (RM) – RM refers to the maximum number of repetitions that can be done with good technique with a given weight. For example, if you could do a dumbbell chest press 10 times in good form with 30 pounds, that would be your 10RM.
Superset – Two exercises done in series without rest between them.
Circuit – Three or more exercises done in series without rest between them.
If you are new to strength training, consider meeting with a trainer to first learn proper form for each of the major exercises before worrying about sets and reps. Using good form will keep you safe and lead to better results in the long run.
Ditch the Machines
Pushups, Rows, Squats, Deadlifts
A good strength program will train all the major body movements, which will cover all the major muscles. The essential movements are:
- Upper Body Pushing (horizontal and vertical) – Pushups, Chest Presses, Shoulder Presses
- Upper Body Pulling (horizontal and vertical) – Rows, Pull-ups, Pull downs
- Lower Body Pushing – Squats, Lunges, Step-ups
- Lower Body Pulling – Dead lifts, Leg Curls
For most people training for general health and fitness:
- 1-4 sets for each of the major movements
- 8-12RM per set (challenging weight)
- 2-3 strength workouts per week on non-consecutive days
Pay Attention to Form!
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Train larger movements before smaller ones, i.e. lower body before upper body.
Start each exercise with a very manageable weight as a warm-up and increase weights on subsequent sets.
Always use good form. Don’t sacrifice your form to lift extra weight or get extra repetitions. If you’re unsure about the right form for an exercise, see one of our trainers.
Extra Tip: Although they are not strength exercises per se, core stability exercises can be worked into a strength training program as well. Core exercises can usually be done with more repetitions or with help positions to improve muscle endurance rather than muscle strength.
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