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I titled this column "You Can Too!" because I wanted to let you know that if I can do this you can. I've been working out three days a week since the beginning of the year. The great part is that I am really feeling better. Many of you know that I am an avid bicyclist, but adding weight training has been very different. No matter what exercise you do I believe that you'll enjoy Dr. Jacques' plans. I have.
Here's more of our conversation and a new set of exercises. I'll keep you posted on my progress and I'm hoping you'll follow along yourself. You'll be glad you did.
Dr. H.: There was one week where I was only been able to work out two days. Can I work out with extra sets or reps during the sessions that I can do that week? Is doubling up a problem?
Dr. C.: While three days of resistance training a week is optimal, working out two days a week can still offer you a significant benefit. Granted, the Schwartzenegger chest will take a little longer to achieve, but resistance training still offers tons of other benefits, even if only done 2 days per week.
Should you double up? No, you can only benefit so much from a particular exercise. Researchers have not been able to quite tease out how many repetitions and sets are optimal per muscle group, per workout. But with a moderate weight workout, 3 sets of 8-12 is optimal. Any more than that and you are likely wasting your time. Don't beat yourself up about two days per week, but try to do three if at all possible.
Dr. H.: I am almost bored now. I need more exercises. And how do I incorporate them?
Dr. C.: Designing exercise programs that are fun, challenging and frequently changing are always challenges. Performing the same workout over and over can be boring. Not only is your brain bored of doing the same thing, your muscles get bored as well. In other words, your muscles adapt to the stress that you put on them during the workout, and they do not grow or strengthen as effectively. So changing up the workout is not only important for your sanity, but is also important in your physical progression.
Anyone performing resistance training workouts should understand how to incorporate 3 basic workout designs into their routine.
First, there is the strength building workout, which is your 3 sets of 8-12 workout, with slow movements. This is your basic workout. When trying a new exercise, returning to exercise after a break, or when teaching someone else the basics of exercise, this is your bread and butter (wheat bread and butter!). You should perform at least one strength building workout once per week, regardless of your overall exercise goals.
The next type of workout is the endurance workout. This will be your 1-5 sets of 15 to 25 or more repetitions, with light weights. In addition to the difference in reps and sets, each repetition in an endurance workout should be performed over a 1 second period. So this is a fast paced resistance training workout. The endurance workout is optimal for runners, bikers, swimmers, and other athletes that require a high level of endurance to be successful in their sport. For others, the endurance workout is beneficial for weight loss and muscle toning. Make 2 out of 3 of your weekly workouts endurance workouts if you are an athlete that needs to improve endurance. Otherwise, try to incorporate endurance workouts into your regimen once a week.
The third type of workout that you should be incorporate into your exercise design is the power workout. For all practical purposes, the power workout is a mixture between the strength building workout and the endurance workout. The power workout requires 3 sets of 8 to 12, but the pace in which you perform repetitions differs from the strength building slow pace. When doing the power workout, you want to perform your concentric movement, or movement against the weight, over a 1 second period. When performing your eccentric movement, of movement back to the starting position, you want to perform this movement slowly, over a four second period. You are training your muscles to make a strong contraction over a short period of time, but still building significant strength in the eccentric movement.
Now that you have mastered a strength building workout, let's try an endurance one next.