Weight-training has several health benefits, including an increase in strength, balance and function, as well as the promotion of a healthy body composition. Several weight-training routines are available, but the best are the ones that will be most effective at helping you achieve your fitness goals.
A person interested in improving muscular strength and function lifts differently than a person interested in developing muscular size. Beginning lifters are likely to see significant improvements in both strength and size no matter which program they choose, but those who have more lifting experience need to use the program tailored to their goals.
Muscular Strength or Muscular Size
If you’re looking to increase muscular strength, lift two to three days per week with at least a day of rest in between sessions. Building strength requires fewer repetitions and heavier weights. Complete two to three sets of two to eight repetitions of each exercise, resting two to five minutes in between sets and exercises. If you’re looking to build muscular size, lift lighter weights by working out at a higher volume. Lift four to six days per week, working your different muscle groups on alternating days so you can complete more exercises per muscle group in any workout. For example, you could develop your upper body -- chest, shoulders and triceps on one day and your lower body -- legs, back and biceps the next day. Then work out your upper body the next day and your lower body the following day for a four-workout-per-week schedule. Complete four to six sets of six to 12 repetitions of each exercise, resting three to five minutes in between sets and exercises.
Use an appropriate battery of exercises to ensure that you develop all of the major muscle groups. To build strength, Georgia State University’s Department of Kinesiology and Health recommends completing bench press, lat pulldown, overhead press, tricep pulldown, bicep curl, squats, leg extension, leg curl and abdominal crunches. If you’re lifting to increase muscle size, add incline press, pushups, pullups, rows, hammer curls, lateral raise, upright rows, tricep extension, lunges, deadlifts and calf raises.
The Right Weight for Your Goal
Use the appropriate amount of weight during your weight-training workouts. If you’re lifting to build strength, the weight you use should allow you to complete two to eight repetitions. If you’re able to complete more of any exercise with the weight you’re using, you should increase the weight on subsequent sets. If you’re lifting to build muscle size, the weight you use should allow you to complete six to 12 repetitions. Make adjustments as necessary.
- Georgia State University’s Department of Kinesiology and Health: Strength Training
- Georgia State University Exercise and Physical Fitness: Training for Hypertrophy
- Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning; Thomas Baechle