16 May 2005

What is resistance training?

Believe it or not, you will start seeing results within four weeks! All you need to do is follow a well-designed programme to build muscles.


Believe it or not, you will start seeing results within four weeks! All you need to do is follow a well-designed programme to build muscles.

All three components, but focus on weight training
A well-designed weight-training programme will include all components (aerobic exercises, resistance training and stretches), with the focus on resistance training to build muscles.

The intensity (the mass of the weights used, the number of repeats and the interval between exercises) and the number of training sessions per week will determine the outcome. However, over-training will lead to muscle fatigue. The key to success is to train hard, but not too hard, frequently and wisely without overexerting yourself.

Women and weight training
According to sports scientists, women should train in exactly the same way as men.

Women often opt for low intensity toning programmes for fear of building too much muscle.

A woman’s testosterone levels are too low to build muscles like a man or look like a male bodybuilder. Even if a woman exercises like crazy, with heavy weights, her muscles will look “toned” and not bulky. Only women injected with testosterone drugs will become an Arnolda Schwarzenegger.

Fab Abs, Bulky Biceps, Beautiful Back
If you want to enhance the muscles of a specific body part, add extra exercises for these parts to your regime. It is not advisable to train only one part of your body. Rather train all your muscle groups and body parts, but train your biceps (if you wish) more.

How much, how many, how often?
In designing an exercise programme, consider these three variables for all three components (aerobics, resistance training and stretching):
1. Frequency – the number of training sessions per week
2. Intensity – how hard you should train
3. Duration – the time (in minutes) per exercise session

For resistance training:
1. Frequency: Not less than two sessions per week, and not more than four. At least one day rest in between each session.

2. Start out at a low intensity and then gradually increase as your body adapts to the workload. After the initial three to four weeks, your intensity should reach a level of intensity high enough to stimulate the muscles to grow stronger. Be patient. Do not increase your weights too quickly. This may lead to injury.

3. Duration: In general, one set of 8 –12 repetitions at a high intensity is recommended. You should be working hard to lift the weight for the 8th – 12th time. Two to three sets of 8 –12 repetitions will be the best. For older people, one set of 10 –15 repetitions with a lighter weight is recommended.

4. Perform exercises that work all the major muscle groups. The major muscle groups are: arms (front and back), legs (upper and lower, front and back), back (upper and lower), abdomen and chest.

5. Perform exercises incorporating multiple muscle groups – the chest press, bench press, leg press - prior to exercises for single muscle groups – biceps curl; leg extension.

6. Alternate an arm exercise with a leg exercise or a chest exercise with a stomach exercise to allow recovery between exercises. Or do you upper body exercises in one session, and your lower body exercises in another session.

How do you know you’re gaining muscle mass and strength?

  • You will feel it.
  • You will see it.
  • You will be able to train harder and longer with heavier weights.
  • Your muscle endurance will increase.

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