By Anthony Rogan
As trainers we hear the same things over and over again. The two most common goals we hear are to ‘lose weight’ and ‘tone up’. This is the goal of 80% of the people who will work with a Personal Trainer and if this is not their primary goal, it is a subsidiary goal.
Due to the internet everyone is an expert in the fitness industry and the word that clients tend to ‘research’ as the solution to their problem is “Cardio” – the magic buzz word that will transform your physique, sculpt your triceps and define your abs.
“Anthony, I know I need to do lots of cardio to burn fat”
Cardio integrated with a weight training plan and a nutrition strategy will help reduce body fat but if you like most people can only commit a limited time to training (two to three sessions per week) then forget cardio and get lifting weights, especially if your primary goal is fat loss. Weight training should be the focus of your training and if you can integrate extra cardio that is great.
Weight training scares people, we are slowly evolving and people’s opinions are changing, especially when it comes to females and lifting weights. In my years in the fitness industry I have seen an increase in women lifting weights in the gym, these are always the girls who are in best shape – Is that a coincidence?
Why Weight Train?
- Weight training will burn more calories per hour than cardio, also the after burn affect will boost your metabolism. If time is limited always choose weights over cardio if your goal is fat loss.
- Weight training will promote lean muscle mass, this will in turn burn more calories. As muscle is denser than fat, even if your weight remains the same, you will appear smaller – isn’t that really the goal?
- Weight training will increase bone density and strengthen connective tissue which will help prevent injury.
- Weight training will sculpt your physique. You triceps and shoulders will become more defined and your stomach, legs and backside will become firmer.
Common Mistakes From The Beginner.
Ok, so we have realised the benefits and so we integrate weight training into our routine, but here is are some of the common mistakes for the newcomer to weight training.
Split routines/ Train too often: If you are new or deconditioned, then following Arnold Schwarzenegger’s routine will not yield good results – It may break you. The term split routine is when you break down training so that you train different muscle groups on different days, usually over a 4 to 6 day period. This is the choice for most competitive body builders and something after 6 months consistent of training you could progress to, but beginners should nearly always start off with a full body routine and lifting two to three times per week maximum. Weight training is taxing and will destroy your central nervous system if you don’t allow time for recovery. Sometimes rest is best, you can integrate other forms of training on non-weight training days (such as cardio) but be careful not to hit the CNS too hard by overtraining.
Bad Programme Design – everyday chest and bicep day: Guys, we’d all like bigger chest and biceps – but that doesn’t mean we need to train them every time we go to the gym. You need to hit all muscle groups in the body and give the chest and biceps time to recover and grow. Even if your goal is bigger biceps you will need to hit all of the body.
No Leg Day: Training your legs will burn huge amounts of calories and promote muscle gain all over the body. You will struggle to either grow muscle or strip fat without training your legs. You will need to squat whether your goal is to shred or grow.
Volume Too High: Quality of quantity should be the rule for all training. Training methods such a German Volume Training (GVT) are great as more advanced protocols but for a newcomer they are too intense, start of full body and as your form and physique get better, then start integrating more advanced methods. The 20 set rule is a great blueprint – you should never exceed 20 total sets per workout. Now this is a great rule of thumb if integrating isolation exercises in a split routine but you’d be better off even less volume and below 15 sets if your session is based around Olympic or big compound movements.
Too Much Isolation: Compound refers to a multi joint exercise that uses more than one joint and therefore more than once muscle group. Squat, Deadlift, Military Press and Chin Ups are all compound movements. Bicep curls, lateral raises and triceps kickbacks are all isolation moves. You need to base your routine on compound lifts.
Form Is Terrible: I see some shocking form. The cornerstone to any programs should be legs and the best two push and pull exercises are the squat and the deadlift – these are the two biggest offenders for bad form. ‘Half Squat’ and ‘Banana Back’ are two of the terms I use to describe the problems with these two lifts. Squats don’t go deep enough and I see some dangerous deadlifting. You need to learn to execute these movements with good form and ensure that you don’t lift too heavy at the expense of good form.
Example of a beginner friendly routine
Ok so now you know why you should be lifting weights and what you shouldn’t be doing, if you are not under supervision of a trainer then the following would be a good two day routine that you can integrate into a training regime. Leave your ego at the door and progress slowly, form is everything and if you are struggling seek the advice of reputable fitness professional and be cautious about information you obtain from the internet.
All exercises are 3 sets of 5-12 reps
Barbell Military Press
Barbell Bent Over Row
Dumbell Bench Press
Chin Ups (will cover bodyweight training and progression in a later blog)
Press Up (will cover bodyweight training and progression in a later blog)
Kettlebell Bent Over Rows
TRX Row (will cover bodyweight training and progression in a later blog)