Physical Training Oct 2002

Fitness Day to Day

By Chad TackettChad Tackett

Making Time for Strength Training

This article is for those of you who have very limited time to devote to exercise, but are serious about getting or staying in shape. Most fitness experts agree that even devoting 30 minutes to strength training two or three times a week is sufficient for strength and muscle development. Many people make the mistake of adding more exercises and sets to their program to make it harder. To increase intensity, do not look for ways to do more exercise, look for ways to do the same or even less, by efficiency. Try to increase the intensity and shorten your workout time by using the following methods.

1. Make sure exercise is convenient: Getting to your exercise equipment should be easy and convenient. If you have to drive a half an hour to get to your gym, you will view working out as a chore. If you spend more time traveling to the gym than you do in the gym, you might want to consider a program that you can do in your home. Muscles do not care where the resistance comes from--they are going to respond. Resistance can be from body weight (push-ups), Thera-band® (rubber resistance), free weights, machines, or a combination of any of these.

2. Work several muscles in one exercise: Another way to fit weightlifting into your busy schedule is to choose exercises that work several major muscle groups at the same time. Squats or the Leg Press (you can find the instructions and video demonstrations for these and many other exercises on my site) works the quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, and calves. Essentially, you will be training four muscle groups at the same time with these exercises.

3. Limit resting time: Skip the usual minute or so of resting time between exercises. You can do this by doing Supersets, which involves doing two or more successive exercises for a given muscle group without rest in between. This can be done one of two ways: The first is to do two or more exercises in a row for the same muscle group without any rest in between. For example, do a set of the Shoulder Presses and follow them immediately with a set of Lateral Raises. This saves time and forces a lot more blood into the shoulders and provides a more intense and effective training stimulus for the shoulder muscles.

The second way to do supersets is to train two opposing muscle groups without any rest in between. You can use this superset style of training for two different muscle groups, but only if they have an agonist/antagonist relationship with each other. In other words, on any given lift one muscle is contracting and the other muscle is relaxing (such as the biceps and triceps when performing a biceps curl). Choose muscle groups that are physically close together such as biceps and triceps, or chest and back, or quadriceps and hamstrings.

4. Have alternate exercises for each muscle group: This is especially important for those who are pressed for time. Often there will be someone working on the piece of equipment you want to use. You should always have a back-up plan, an alternate exercise that trains the same muscle group.

I hope you found this information helpful. Your greatest challenge is not learning new exercises or the proper technique; it's not learning how many sets or reps to do or how much weight to use. Nor is it deciding when or how to change your routine. The greatest challenge facing you at this moment is deciding whether you are willing to take action and make time for yourself and make strength training a priority.

When you begin achieving great results, the excitement and fun you experience will make the change and time you've spent well worth the effort. Action creates motivation! Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of an effective strength training program.

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Physical Training Oct 2002