Weight training is important because it increases your muscle mass and your body’s metabolic rate. We’ve already talked about how muscle burns a lot of calories.
Many people think that if you need to lose weight you need to do cardio first. However, weight training is more critical to your long term success. By working out your muscles you are increasing your overall calorie burn throughout the day. So by building your muscles you will be accelerating your fat loss.
When you do cardio you’re involved in a form of aerobic exercise. This allows you to burn calories during the exercise. When you’re involved in a muscle building workout the calorie burning effect comes after you finish your workout and is sustained through out the day.
It is estimated that your body needs 10 calories to sustain every pound of muscle mass. Technically speaking… if you build 10 pounds of muscle mass, your body burns an additional 10×10 = 100 calories every day just to maintain the muscle mass while your are resting and doing nothing.
Think about it: 100 calories a day is 3000 calories a month. If you need to lose one pound of fat you need to burn around 3500 calories. so by building 10 pounds of muscle you will lose almost an additional one pound of fat every month on a consistent basis… month after month… without having to do any extra cardio work or reducing calorie intake.
By lifting weights you are building muscle. Therefore weight training is as important as cardio in every fat loss program (if not more important). If you plan to lose weight without building your muscle, you are almost always going to lose lean muscle mass in the process and you will have to work harder. However, adding weight training to your program can speed up your fat loss.
The essential fat burning effect of weight training comes after you finish the workout. It is a result of increased BMR and increased post-exercise metabolic rate.
During the early 70’s weight training and bodybuilding were almost frowned upon but weight training is almost indispensable today for all forms of professional athletes. Many Olympic athletes and pro sports teams have a weight training instructor who structures tailor made programs for each individual to increase muscle mass.
But let me be clear here, weight training alone cannot do the trick. You need it to combine with some form of cardio to speed up the fat loss. without cardio will never be able to see your six pack abs.
Cardio gives you a fat burning advantage during the workout because aerobic exercise uses oxygen and is therefore fat-burning in nature. In other words you lose fat during the cardio exercise.
You need to plan your nutrition, cardio and weight training in a smart way to get the results you want. Again… every person’s genetics are different and you need to mix and match until you get the desired results.
Where to train:
You either train at home or at the gym. Each has its own advantage and disadvantages.
|Don’t need to spend time on travelling and getting readyHigh comfort factorNobody is watching so its easier to stop working out and skip the program altogether.Somebody may disturb you during workouts. |
Weather doesn’t affect your workouts and you can work out anytime
Less time spent on overall activity
Range of exercise is limited
|Need to get ready and go to gymNeed to motivate yourself to go there everydayHaving a trainer can be useful to motivate you. you have a group to go to.No disturbance and you have your personal time |
Weather can be a factor
Time spent on travelling to & from the gym, chatting , changing etc
No limits to range of exercises
So as you can see from the list above… each option has its benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately you need to choose a program that will work for you in the long run.
If you decide to train at home, basic free weights are all you need to get started. A bench and barbell can be a great advantage. Having a pullup bar will also give you an added advantage.
There are hundreds of exercise you can do at home with the basic equipment. There are body weight exercises (pushups, squats etc) and dumbell/barbell exercises and you can combine both (Ex: Squats while holding dumbbells).
So pick out your favorite venue and get ready to roll.
Common myths & doubts about bodybuilding:
Myth 1: You will get too big with body building
Unless you are on anabolic steroids you are never going to get too big too quick. Again it is important that you have a clear goal in mind. What kind of a body do you desire? Whom do you want to look like? What are their measurements likely to be?
Once you reach the shape you desire you can stop muscle building strategies and work out for maintenance and adjust your nutrition accordingly.
Myth 2: If you stop working out, your muscles will turn to fat or you will get fat
When you stop working out, your muscles tend to flatten out a little and lose the pump effect. However… when you workout you burn a specific amount of calories during every workout. If you stop the workout and maintain a high calorie diet the excess calories will accumulate and be stored as fat.
To avoid this you need to cut down your calorie intake after 72 hours of stopping workouts. this is because the workout effect lasts for upto 48-72 hours. So if you’re going on a long holiday and don’t intend to work out or if you suffer some injury and need to be immobilized… you need to cut down the intake of calories appropriately. Calorie balance is key here. Muscle never turns in to fat, but excess food will!
Myth 3: Weight training reduces flexibility
If you perform weight training exercises through the full range of motion, warm up before the exercise and warm down after the exercise, it will actually increase your flexibility and range of motion.
The ligaments in your joints can be injured more easily if you lift weights and expose your joints to sudden stress. When your joints are warmed up you ligament and tend to adapt more easily and this minimizes any risk of injury.
Your muscles are warmed up when you begin to sweat. So you need to do some form of lunges, arm swings and other cardio until your muscles and body are sufficiently warmed up and can take up weight training,
Duration of workouts
Ideally your workouts should last for 30-45 minutes(optimal) and they should not prolong for more than one hour.
Very long workouts burden your nervous and endocrine system, decrease your levels of growth hormone and testosterone (anabolic hormones) and increase your level of cortisol (a catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle).
If your workouts exceed 60 minutes… then you need to cut down the number of exercise or reduce the gaps between your sets.
Ideally you should weight train for 30 – 45 minutes and do cardio for 20- 30 minutes at the end.
Gap between workouts:
Every time you work out you are inflicting microscopic damage on your muscle. The muscle needs to recover from this damage and get thicker and stronger and for this process to occur you need to allot time between workouts.
Your muscles grow after your workouts. You should allow them enough time to recover.
The effect of a workout lasts upto 48 hours. so working out on alternate days is a good startegy. This allows the muscle to recover and grow.
3-4 workouts a week should be ideal.
If you’re a competitive bodybuilder, then three or four days a week may not be enough and you may want to train for upto 5 days a week.
If you want to workout more than that… then you need to split your workouts. For example… if you work out 4 days a week, you can split your workout into upper body work outs and lower body workouts and rotate them twice. (2 upper body workouts + 2lower body workouts = 4 workouts). The key rule is to give each muscle group atleast 48 hours of rest after every workout.
Working out more than five days per week is NOT recommended.
Number of repetitions
The number of repetitions depends on your goals. If you are high performance athlete then you want to use 3 – 5 rep range with extremely heavy weights. This will build strength.
If you want to build and bulk your muscle then do more training in the 8-12 rep range with moderate weights for size.
If you are able to do more than 12 reps, then your workout almost counts as cardio and you may not notice any increase in muscle size.
This book focuses on increasing your muscle mass for maximum fat burning and good physique. So you don’t want to go below 6 reps and you don’t want to exceed 12 reps.
Rule of thumb: If you are not able to do atleast 6 reps then lower your weight. If you are able to do more than 12 reps then increase your weight. (this does not apply if you’re doing MRT)
Number of sets
There are many types of programs and many different recommendations, but the one that works best is doing 3 sets for every exercise.
If you are working out the entire body in every session then you need to do one exercise (3 sets per muscle group). If you are on a split workout (upper body only or lower body only per session) you can do two exercises per muscle group. This will help you to complete your workouts within the time frame of 30-60 minutes.
If you are a beginner you may want to take it easy for the first 2-3 weeks and do only 1-2 sets per exercise, but after the lactic acid effect and muscle pain vanishes after 2-3 weeks you can move onto 3 sets per exercise.
Do all your repetitions slowly and deliberately. Never use fast of jerky motions. You should take about 2-3 seconds for raising the weight and 2-3 seconds for lowering the weight, with no gap in between raising and lowering.
Rest between sets
The general rule is to have a gap of one minute between sets. Sometimes you may need longer to catch your breath. However, you don’t want to give too much gap. The shorter the gap, the higher the fat burning effect.
Isolate the muscle during the exercises and don’t use body weight to support your repetitions. If you have to then reduce the weight. But don’t swing the entire body during exercise since it will reduce the burn and pump effect on each of the muscles and puts strain on other muscles and joints.
Progression is a key element in muscle building. You should maintain a chart and monitor the amount of weight you lift and the number of repetitions you are able to do. You want to consistently keep increasing the number of repetitions or the weights.
Ideally when you start your exercise you should be able to do 8 reps of the exercise. Then you need to progress to 9 the next week, then to 10 and 11 and 12 in the coming weeks.
Once you reach 12 repetitions you want to increase the weights and start from 8 reps and move upto 12.
Remember that the progression may not always be linear and upwards. Sometime you may move two steps forward and one step back. But the drop is temporary and you should be able to push higher soon.
You need to maintain a chart and track your progression and monitor it at all times. Without this, your muscle building will reach a plateau and not grow further.
Your goal at every workout is to lift more weight or increase the number of reps. Lift the same amount of reps and weight in less time, or do something new. Keep increasing the standards.
Progression builds muscle. Routine plateaus it. The biggest companion to progression is maintaining a training journal. The biggest enemy is impatience. So be patient my friend and write down what you do.
Other enemies of progression:
- Under nutrition
- Improper sleep
- Improper planning
You need to keep a watch on the above factors to ensure your progression.
Exercises and muscle groups:
The main muscle groups you need to focus on are as follows:
You may divide the workout routines into upper body and lower body workouts.
There are many basic exercises for each muscle and muscle group. Depending upon where you workout and the kind of equipment available you may design your workout using the principles described above.
Opt to use free weights over machines. Free weight such as dumbbell and barbells give you great gains that you can never achieve using a machine.
You can go to sites such as youtube or other body building websites and pick out top 3 exercises for each muscle and note them down. Learn the proper way of doing the exercise and maintain your progression journal. If you do this correctly then your muscle gains will be guaranteed.
The most popular exercises include:
- Free weight exercises for upper body
- Free weight squats & lunges
- Leg Presses
- Stiff-Legged Deadlifts
- Bench Presses
- Wide-Grip Dips
- Overhead Presses
- Chin-Ups or Lat Pulldowns
Steps for workout
- Do your warm ups
- Pick an exercise for specific muscle
- Pick a weight with which you can do a maximum of 8 reps.
- Do three sets.
- Go to the next muscle group or next exercise.
- Allow 48 hours of rest and maintain your nutrition.
After 8 week of weight training you want to take one week off and lay off all the weights and cardio and just relax.
This is like a vacation for your body and it prevents you from over training. This gives the body enough time to recover. It boosts your immune system and you can come back even stronger after your break.