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Weight training doesn't have to be intimidating, in fact you should feel the weights calling your name, each time you enter the gym.

By: Fawnia Dietrich

We all remember the time we first set foot into a gym. Looking around at all the equipment and buff bodies moving weight in every imaginable direction, it's a wonder we didn't exit out the back door never to return! Weight training doesn't have to be intimidating, in fact you should feel the weights calling your name, each time you enter they gym.

For those of you who are new to weight training, or would like change to your routine, check out this program that I was first introduced to. This weight training program is exactly what I started with and it enabled me to start training safely and familiarize myself with the gym, at a welcoming pace.

If this is your first time in the gym, do one set of each exercise, for 10 reps. Once you are comfortable with this program, perform the number of sets and reps mentioned.

    Rest about 1 minute between sets.
    For intermediate to advanced lifters your rep range will depend on your goals. For size, train in the 8 - 12 rep range. For power, train in the 2 - 5 rep range.
    For endurance, train in the rep range of 15 - 30.

Day One
Chest & Triceps

Chest and triceps are two body parts that go well together on the same day and the reason is because both parts are connected when training. As you are training the chest, your triceps are getting warmed up since they play a staring role in chest workouts.

We are training chest first also because if they are not needed during triceps. If you were to train triceps before chest, your chest workout would be poor since you would be forced to cut your sets short due to your fatigued triceps. (Same applies to back and biceps.)

Chest

    Exercise One
    Incline Dumbbell Press

    Many women are hesitant about working their chest, thinking it will make them smaller. The truth is that without training all your body parts, you can't claim to have a killer female body. As for men, we'll we know you love this exercise. Always being this exercise with a 'warm-up set', doing about 15 - 20 reps with a light weight.

    With dumbbells you have the advantage of lowering the weight on the sides of your body below the level of your chest and that will stretch and stress your chest a little more. Amount of weight and lack of balance are some of the culprits that will prevent you from getting the most out of this exercise.

    Doing this exercise on a flat bench with a barbell, is by far the best exercise for chest. Done this way is a great mass builder, easy to do, and allows you to work with some really heavy weights (which is why men love it).

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

    Exercise Two
    Incline Dumbell Flys

    They can be done on a flat or incline bench. Here we are using an incline bench. With arms slightly bent at the elbows, lying on the bench, in a circular motion, bring the weight down below a line going through your chest and parallel to the ground. Bring the weight down, to the point where you feel a stretch in your chest.

    Try to pull/push the weight up until the dumbbells meet. As you are pushing the weight up, imagine that you are giving a huge hug. Flyes are good for both inner and outer pecs, and provide a necessary stretch for your chest.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

    Exercise Three
    Push-Ups

    Women may want to start with 'women's push-ups' (knees down) until they are strong enough to perform 'men's push-ups' or at least a combination of both. Regardless of the type of push-up you are doing, you must keep your body in a straight line, from your head to your knees.

    Place your hands on the floor so they are in line with your chest. As you lower your body, your arms should form right angles. Your head should come one to two inches from touching the floor.

    • Beginner: 3 sets 10 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets to failure

Triceps

    Exercise One
    French Press (Skull Crushers)

    Since its level of difficulty, we are doing it first. Take a cambered bar or an EZ curl bar with your hands about 10 inches apart (overhand of course). Lower the bar all the way down until the back of your hand touches your forehead and push it back up. This can be a very difficult exercise and your triceps can easily give out so you should try to do this light weight.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

    Exercise Two
    Cable pressdowns ("push down")

    This is one of my favorite exercises for the triceps. Use as close a grip as you want. Never stand more than two feet away from the weight stack when you do it. Leverage is important in this exercise, so you should take a shoulder-width stance and bend your knees.

    You can lean forward a little bit, and keep your abs tight. This is a 90-degree range of motion exercise. Your forearms should be parallel to the ground at the top of the movement, don't let the weight pull you higher. At the bottom, your arms should be perpendicular to the floor. Its OK to "lockout" at the bottom

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

    Exercise Three
    Kickbacks

    If you are a guy, you may wonder why you rarely see men doing this exercise. The reason is simply; you can't use heavy weights. Time to swallow your pride, and learn how to do this great exercise.

    Standing in the same position as if you were doing bent over dumbbell rows, bring the arm holding the dumbbell back so that it's parallel to the ground and just a smidgen higher than your back.

    Bending the arm at the elbow, lower the weight so that your arm makes a right angle. Then "kick" the arm back to its original position. Be sure to use your tricep to move the weight, not momentum from the weight swinging.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 12 - 20 reps

Day Two
Back & Biceps

We are training back and biceps on the same day for the same reason we trained chest and triceps. While working your back, your biceps get a slight working, therefore giving you a slight pump in your arms. By the time you are completed your larger muscle workout of your back, your biceps are ready to go!

Back

    Exercise One
    Lat pulldowns

    Lats are an important part of everyone's physique. You may think only men desire them, however with added width to the body (that "V" look) you are steps closer to the appearance of a smaller waist.

    If you have been weight training for a while, try pull ups. Otherwise, lat pulldowns are the 'next best thing'. When I began weight training, I found this exercise a difficult. Many women don't have large or developed back muscles so it took time and patience to learn how to 'feel' my back actually working.

    Holding the bar with a wide grip, and your knees firmly in place under the pad, pull the long bar towards your upper chest while keeping your chest high. Many people (beginner or not) perform this exercise, letting their back hunch over as they pull the bar down.

    This is very unsafe and ineffective. Consciously know that you are lifting your upper chest as you pull the weight down. You may be tempted to sway, however focus on using your back to move the weight.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

    Exercise Two
    Cable Rows

    I have always loved this exercise. To get as much of your lats involved as possible, pull the weight toward you stomach (try to keep it low). In this exercise its easy to let your arms and shoulders do the work, but don't. Concentrate on your back, and make sure not to swing back and forth, that will work your lower back. Stay upright, you may tilt back slightly. As you pull the weight close, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

    Exercise Three
    One arm dumbell rows (Bent over rows),

    This is also a favorite of mine. Place one knee and one arm on a flat bench. The other leg is supporting your body against the ground and the same side arm is holding the dumbbell. Bring the dumbbell up and pull it in close to your body at stomach/hip level, slowly lower and repeat. To help make sure your lats are doing the work, not shoulders and arms, think of your hands as hooks holding the weight.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

Biceps

    Exercise One
    Barbell Curl (straight bar curls)

    Sometime I choose to use an EZ-Curl bar for this exercise. Standing straight, with your feet about shoulder width apart, hold the barbell with palms facing up.

    Your hands should also be about shoulder width apart or slightly closer together. With your knees slightly bent, and your torso tight, slowly bring the bar up towards your chest.

    I recommend that you not touch your chest with the bar, since once you pass the vertical line and bring the bar closer to your chest, your biceps stop working. To keep continuous tension in your biceps, stop about six inches from your chest. At the bottom, don't bounce the bar off your thighs.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 15 reps

    Exercise Two
    Dumbbell Curl

    This can be done standing or seated. For beginners, I recommend standing since it's slightly easier. Start by having your arms resting on the sides of your body with wrists neutral and facing each other. As you bring one dumbbell up to your shoulder, start rotating your wrist inward.

    By the time the dumbbell approaches your shoulder, the dumbbell should be facing up. You can squeeze out a peak contraction at the top and then reverse the movement so that at the bottom your wrist is neutral again. Then, perform the same exact movement with the other arm. Keep alternating for the duration of the set.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

    Exercise Three
    Cable Curl

    This final bicep exercise can be done with one or two arms. Here we are using two. Stand much like you were when you were doing barbell curls. Keeping your abs tight, lift the weight towards your chest, then slowly lower.

    You will notice that there is constant tension on your biceps with the cables as apposed to using free weights, causing your biceps to work at all points of this movement.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

Day Three
Legs & Shoulders

You have seen the trend above where we have been working the larger body parts first. This is because they take more energy, and you need to have enough energy to carry you through to the end of your workout.

Legs

    Exercise One
    Leg Press

    Leg Presses are a great compound exercise (using more than one joint) for quads. I enjoy it because it isolates the quads while also works glutes and hamstrings to some degree.

    For leg press, you are welcome to use any width you like. For those of you women who want to focus on toning your glutes, place your feet slightly higher, and about 1 foot apart. (Sometime the tops of my shoes are off the metal).

    Squeeze your glutes and keep them tight as you press the weight up, adding extra tension. As you press and lower the weight, be sure that your knees are in line with your toes.

    Never lock out your legs at the top of each rep, always have a slight bend in your leg. Locking out will cause damage to your knees.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

    Exercise Two
    Leg Extension

    Leg Extensions provide a real burn, and is a better exercise for definition than for mass gains. When you do this exercise try not to rock your upper torso back and forth, but instead remain locked in a vertical position. Your legs should extend all the way to lock out.


    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

    Exercise Three
    Hamstring Curl

    Working your 'leg biceps', hamstring curls can be done seated, or lying face down on a machine. When lifting the weight, try to reach your buttocks with your feet, come as close to it as possible.

    If you are lying down, try to press your hips into the bench as you move the weight. For added tension on your hamstrings, point your toes.

    Many people will flex their feet during this exercise, only to have their calves come into play, letting their hamstrings "off the hook." See for yourself, and start pointing your toes. You will most likely have to lower the weight if you have been flexing all this time.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

    Exercise Four
    Standing Calf Raise

    In a standing position, you are working a part of your calf called the gastrocnemius. Have the pads on your shoulders, and get your body under the weight, while keeping your knees unlocked.

    Go all the way up on your toes and come as far down as you can with your feet still on the platform. Always let your calves move the weight, don't start squatting.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

    Note: One of the best ways to get stubborn calf muscles to grow is to do high reps (i.e. 15+ per set) one workout, and do low reps (i.e. 5-10 per set) the next workout.

    Exercise Five
    Seated Calf Raise

    Because your legs are bent, it works the soleus muscle which lies just beneath the gastrocnemius muscle. Sit on the machine with your knees underneath the pads and your feet on the platform.

    The key to all calf exercises is to concentrate on flexing the muscle on the way up. As with the standing raises, go all the way up on your toes and come as far down as you can with your feet still on the platform.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

Shoulders

    Exercise One
    Seated Dumbbell Press

    Dumbbell shoulder press places the emphasis on your medial head, while barbell shoulder press puts more emphasis on your front head. During this exercise, stabilizer muscles directly involved because each arm/shoulder is independent of the other. (You can not help your weaker shoulder with the driving force of the stronger one as with barbell press).

    Seated in an upright chair/bench, push the weight up so your arms are almost straight above your head. (Don't lock your elbows) Slowly lower the weight to the point where the dumbbells are inches away from your shoulder, then press up again.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

    Exercise Two
    Front Lateral Raise

    These are a good exercise for front delt heads. Start by holding the dumbbells in front of yourself and, one at a time, slowly, without swinging them, bring them up to just above shoulder level. Sometimes I will do two arms at a time, then alternate when I start getting tired.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

    Exercise Three
    Rear Lateral Flys

    Using a machine, position the handles so they are closest to the machine itself. Raise the seat to a height that allows you to bring your arms to chest level when placed on the handles. Sit facing the pad, holding the handles with your arms straight out in front.

    Then move your arms till they are open wide and in line with your body, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This should be like a reverse hug. Try to keep your chest up and back straight.

    • Beginners: 3 sets of 10 - 15 reps
    • Intermediate: 4 sets of 10 - 20 reps

Important Tips

  • Stretch the working body part between every set and drink water.
  • Train your Abs every second day.
  • Cardio - 20 minutes minimum, three - six days a week, preferably after your weights.
  • Change up your routine every three months to keep your body from adapting.

Thanks,

Weight Training For Beginners And Tips For The Rest Of Us!

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