Sunday, 31 March 2013

Creating the perfect weight training program

From Google images
Putting together the perfect weight training program really depends on your goals, be it strength or size (hypertrophy), though it isn't really that difficult to be honest.
In theory you can narrow it down to 4 different types of categories; Push, Pull, Legs, and Core.

If you've read any of my earlier posts, you know I'm all for compound and functional moves. So let me try and explain what the 4 categories mean and some great compound exercises for those categories.

Push refers to the pushing motion you do with your arms, like when you push open a door, extend your arms to recover from a fall, or lift something above your head.
These exercises also work the anterior part of the shoulders and the chest.
These are of my favourite pushing exercises:

  • Bench Press
  • Dips - This one primarily works the triceps, though also work the shoulders and chest. It's easy to make this exercise harder or easier by either adding weights or placing your feet on a bench or the floor at an angle. 
  • Overhead Press - This targets more the anterior part of your shoulders, but also your triceps, since you're pushing the weight above your head.

Pull refers to the pulling motion you do with your arms, but also works the back and posterior part of the shoulder.
  • Pull up - The wider the grip, the more the back you'll be working.
  • Bent-over Row - Mostly the upper back and posterior part of the shoulders are worked here, but it is still a quite good exercise for your biceps.
    • Any kind of row is worth mentioning really.

Legs can in be divided into anterior and posterior parts.
  • Squat - works the anterior part as well as the buttocks.
  • Deadlift - This one works the entire posterior chain of muscles, all the way from the calves, through the hamstrings and buttocks to the back.
  • Lunges - Works the same muscles as the Squat.

The core helps to stabilise the body while in motion. They fire and work all day, even when standing still.
As you twist, turn and bend through life, these muscles are at work, making sometimes microscopic changes to keep your body safe and get it to do what you want it to do in life and in sport.

Click here to read my post about core training, and see the exercises I recommend to do.

Sets, Reps, and Weight:
It all depends on what your goal is, but normally in the range of 3 sets of 8-12 reps when going for general strength training and if you train for hypertrophy or explosive strength I'd say 3-5 sets of 4-6 reps.
For general strength training you should use a weight around 70-80% of your 1RM, and for hypertrophy or explosive strength you should go for 85-90% of your 1RM.
Here's a good calculator for calculating your 1RM and calculating the amount of weight you should use.

Currently, my strength training routines are the following:
  • Deadlift
  • Dips
  • Pull ups
  • Lunges
  • The Plank
  • Squat
  • Bench press
  • Seated Cable row
Normally I do 3 sets on Sundays, and 3-5 sets on Wednesdays. The number of reps and weight varies every second workout on Sundays, and on Wednesdays I normally do 5 reps, but add weight every workout.
The Sunday routine is the same as they use in the Danish Military, the Wednesday routine is to add some more strength work.