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Last week we began a series with Dr. Jacques Courseault. Because Dr. Jacques was a personal trainer before becoming a physician I have asked him to become my trainer and let you follow along.
As always, the info on the Dr. Gourmet web site is not a replacement for seeing your physician and your doctor would want you to speak with him or her before starting any new exercise program.
You can follow along in the coming months and see how easy this is. Read the first article in this series. It discusses the basics of getting started and this week I get to the exercises.
Dr. C.: Let's start with a Squatting Shoulder Press, which works the large muscles in your legs and arms.
Now the challenge of the first day is in determining the proper weight to use. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends using "70-85% of your one repetition maximum." Right.... Forget the exercise jargon. Let's perform a "test" to help you find the correct weight for the Squatting Shoulder Press.
Find the barbell rack in your gym. You may see two types of barbells, the straight bar or the curl bar (which has two humps built into it.) Use either one, it doesn't matter.
Dr. H.: Barbells are the ones that you hold in each hand, right?
Dr. C.: Barbells are the long straight bars that require two hands to use. They can range from about 4 to 6 feet in length. The benefit of using a barbell, particularly for beginners, is that you have more control over the motion of the bar, as opposed to using dumbbells, which are the weights that you can hold separately in each hand.
Dumbbells are beneficial because you train smaller muscles that control balance. For instance, you may be using dumbbells to train the large muscles in your arm, say your biceps. At the same time, your forearm muscles are being worked because they have to balance the dumbbell.
Dr. C.: Now, I want you to start at 20 lbs. Place your hands on the bar, shoulder-width apart and palms down. Next, bring the bar to the level of your chest, with your hands and elbows underneath the bar. If, picking it up from the floor or a low rack, make sure you keep your back straight and use the muscles in your arms and legs to lift the weight.
Now, I want you to push the barbell straight up in the air with your arms, again keep your back straight. Perform 2 repetitions. If you think you can do more than 8 repetitions with this weight, put the weight back on the rack and try 30 lbs. If 30 lbs. is too light, then try 40 lbs. Perform the same test until you find the weight that you can do about 8 repetitions with. After you choose the correct weight, write it down in your workout log so you can remember it the next time you perform the Squatting Shoulder Press.
Dr. H.: A "rep" is a single motion then? That would make 8 reps 8 lifts of the barbell, right? How far should I go? Is it always the full range of motion for that particular exercise?
Dr. C.: Exactly. You gotta know a little gym language.... A rep is just that, a single up (concentric) and down (eccentric) movement. Thus, 8 reps equals 8 up and down movements. For now, let's assume that a rep is the full range of motion for a particular exercise. For the Squatting Shoulder Press, the bar begins at the upper chest and ends when you can fully extend your arms. As we advance, a rep may not include the full range, but don't worry about that at this point.
Dr. H.: Got it. A rep is the motion and a set is the number of reps. Is 3 sets the standard?
Dr. C.: Yes, three sets is the standard. However, sets can range from one to three depending on your training goals. For endurance training it is best to use 1-2 sets, but with a higher number of reps (15-25). For building big Schwarzenegger muscles, 6 sets of 1 to 6 reps may be used. Aren't you glad you asked?
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