The basic questions of program setup are often skipped by my ilk – I will cover the questions of how long, how many, in this blog.
- Time duration of workouts? I say anywhere between 10 minutes and up to 40 minutes actually exercising with weights. So warm up and cool down in addition to this. If you only want to augment your major fitness program with one or two resistance exercises, then 10 minutes is good – but use basic compound exercises that work the whole body. No more than 40 minutes as a maximum time because it has been scientifically proven that any more than this is counterproductive to improvement.
- How many sets/repetitions should I do for each exercise? It depends on what you want out of the program. If you want local muscular endurance you should do two sets of each exercise with a repetition range between 12 – 20 and with no more than 30 seconds rest between each set in a circuit pattern. If you want muscular size you should do between 4 – 6 sets of each exercise with a repetition range between 6 – 12 and with no more than 60 seconds rest between each set, so a total repetition range for each exercise between 34 – 50. If you want muscular strength you should do 3 sets for each exercise with a repetition range of 5 – 3 and with between 90 – 120 seconds rest between sets.
- How many exercises should I do within each workout? Anywhere between 1 – 12 exercises depending again, on what you want out of the resistance program. So the shape of your workout is determined on whether you are doing a circuit; a super setting workout (working the oposing muscle group, two exercises per set); a straight sets workout; several mini circuits etc. Keep in mind that the workout should fit within 40 minutes.
- How many days a week should I do resistance workouts? Between 2 – 4 times, best number is 3. Any more than this you are getting into the area of Advanced Competitive Weight Lifting or Body Building. Too many young people gain repetitive strain injuries when they do too many workouts when they are only beginning this type of exercise regime.
- Do I need to split my body into different body parts? Short answer is ‘No’. Unless you are doing a specific body building program the best exercises to use are ones that work the whole body in a coordinated fashion. If you have a need to work a specific body part (e.g. wrists) it is the only exception. Please Note: even some exercises that put more emphasis on a specific body part – for example, the Plank exercise works the Core muscles, you still work your arms and legs to a certain extent.
The key question you must ask yourself is whether the program you are doing is giving you the expected results you desire? If it is not, get help to change it! And one further important factor that I have covered before, but am happy to repeat – change your program around every 4 – 6 weeks so that your body does not adapt to it. Once adaptation occurs, very little improvement can be made!