Continuing on here with Part Two, let’s look at some of the nuts and bolts of weight training lingo and procedure:
Warming-Up: It is imperative that you do some kind of quick and easy, five to 10-minute warm-up before every workout. This gets the heart pumping, the blood and oxygen circulating, the synovial fluid flowing (which is kind of like an internal lubricant for the joints) and the muscles and tendons loosened up, all of which does a lot to safeguard against injury and prepare you for a great session. A nice warm-up also enhances neuromuscular coordination, in preparation for whatever movements you will be performing.
Reps and Sets: As you engage a given exercise for a particular body part, you will be dealing with reps and sets. A rep (short for “repetition”) is one complete, start-to-finish movement of an exercise. A set is a series of reps, usually in the 5-15 range, that you’ll perform for each movement. At the early stages, you’ll typically only do one or two sets per body part, just to get your body acclimated. Later, as you’ll want to increase the intensity of your program, you will increase the number of sets.
Frequency: You will be training each body part anywhere from one to three times a week, based on a number of factors. And you will always ensure that at least 48 hours have passed before training the same body part again (with the possible exception being abs and calves. More on this next time).
Volume: To continue to make progress with your resistance training, you will have to continue to increase your workload so the body doesn’t become immune to your efforts. One of the most fundamental ways this is accomplished is through volume; the actual number of sets you do per body part. This means that the greater level of conditioning you achieve, the more total sets you will have to do and, therefore, the fewer body parts you will be able to do per session. This is where a variety of routine options come into play.
Intensity: As you’re performing a given movement, you will want it to be increasingly difficult throughout each set as you feel a very distinctive burn in your muscles. This ensures that you are truly experiencing resistance and your body will respond accordingly. If you are having difficulty reaching the burn toward the latter part of your sets, it’s time to increase the intensity by raising the amount of weight you’re lifting, increasing the number of reps, or employing any of a number of other intensity techniques that we’ll be covering later.
Weightlifting Belt: These are special belts that help to support your core as you lift heavy weights. If you really feel like you need to use one as you’re first starting out, then you’re probably lifting too heavy. My advice would be to allow your lower back and the rest of your core to get stronger on its own. Then, if and when you start progressing into heavier weights, try using a belt on key powerlifting-type movements like squats, dead lifts, and any other heavy type of exercise where you feel like you could use some extra support for your lower back.
Ample recovery time and “The 48-Hour Rule”: As mentioned, any given muscle group (except calves and abdominals) will need at least 48 hours to recover between workouts. Many enthusiastic novices train the same body parts everyday, thinking that this will garner better results. Actually, the opposite is true, because they are not allowing the body ample time to fully rebuild the muscle fiber that was broken down during their last session. So, since you actually make your gains away from the gym, wait at least 48 hours before you hit that same muscle group again.
Breathe: Be sure to exhale during the strenuous part of the rep and inhale as you return to the starting point.
Eating: You will want to fuel your body with some nourishment about 30 minutes to an hour before your resistance training workout and within 30 minutes after your workout.
Pre-workout: A Superfoods Smoothie is your best choice. You might also consider a bowl of oatmeal, some kind of vegan sports bar, like a Clif bar, or even a couple slices of multi-grain toast with jam. Emphasis should be on complex carbs. Obviously, you will want to avoid a full meal prior to training.
Post-workout: As it turns out, a Superfoods Smoothie is also the best choice as a replenishing post-workout meal, presuming you didn’t have one prior. Other choices would be most any type of “Rock-Solid” Sit-Down meal option (which we’ll be covering in greater depth shortly). However, if it’s going to be much more than 30 minutes before you can have that meal or smoothie, then at least have a vegan sports bar (or similar) as a quick snack to hold you over. Emphasis should be on carbs (to replenish glycogen stores) and protein, shooting for at least 10 to 15 grams (depending on your total body weight and exercise intensity).
“Musclehead” Terminology: The universal language of weight training includes alternate names for each body part. These are based on the technical names for the muscle and are firmly entrenched in weightlifting culture. There’s no law to say that you have to use them, but it’s good to know them:
- Chest: “pecs” – Short for pectoralis major, the primary muscle of the chest.
- Shoulders: “delts” – Short for deltoids, the primary muscles of the shoulders.
- Triceps: “tri’s” – Short for triceps, which comprise the bulk of the back of the arm.
- Back: “lats” – Short for latissimus dorsi, the sweeping, outer muscle of the back.
- Biceps: “bi’s” – Short for biceps, which comprise the bulk of the front of the arm.
- Trapezoids: “traps” – Short for the trapezoids, which are the upper-back muscle group that frames the neck.
- Legs: “quads” – Short for quadriceps, the four primary muscles that comprise the front of the leg; “hams” – Short for hamstrings, the primary muscle group in the back of the upper leg; “glutes” – Short for gluteus maximus, the muscles of your buttocks.
- Lower leg: “calves” – Refers to the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles in the back of your leg between your ankle and knee.
- Abdominals: “abs” – Generally includes all the muscles of your abdominal region, including your intercostals and obliques.
All for now. In Part Three, we’ll talk about how to get those pecs, bi’s and quads in shape as we look at specific ways to design your program.