A few weeks ago, I submitted an article aimed at the beginner or novice focusing on a few tips and hints relating to the beginning of a new workout program. This article will focus on some specifics in starting a workout program.
In the previous article I recommended to begin your program with sort of a pre-week high rep workout routine to aid in the muscle soreness process. When beginning this you should pick workouts that are high in reps and low in weight, but also focus on hitting the muscle in three different ways. A few years ago there was a big focus on picking exercises that covered the complete range of muscle movement, this specifically being a stretch, mid-range, and a contraction.
While this philosophy is not preached with the consistency as before it is still a very valuable concept to take into consideration, especially during that "pre-week" period. It is my recommendation to you to do two upper-body workouts and two lower-body workouts for your pre-week.
You should do 3-5 sets of 15-18 reps with a weight heavy enough to bring you to failure on the last few reps of the last few sets. We'll keep the exercises basic and focus on using the full range of the muscle.
Beginning A Program
I can't say how valuable form is in training, primarily in the beginning of a program. The habits and tendencies you develop in the beginning will either sculpt your body into the masterpiece you desire or may cause symmetry and even health problems for as long as you practice these bad habits.
For triceps I recommend tricep cable extensions, it's a basic exercise that's easy to control.
The hint on this exercise is two-fold; first of all don't lock out your elbows when fully extended (this will both cause joint damage and cause you to lose the contraction of the muscle), and also on the upward motion only go to the point where your forearm is parallel with the floor, again this will cause you to lose contraction. For biceps I suggest doing dumbbell curls on a preacher bench while only doing one arm at a time so that you may use your other arm to spot yourself when you need it.
Make sure to get a good stretch at the bottom and to stop the at the top of the movement where you feel your bicep contracted the most, its not nececcesarily where your fist touches your chest (trust me you'll feel it).
For shoulders seated raises will work well, doing the exercise from a seated position eliminates the sway that's inherent from a standing position and forces you to use primarily your shoulders only. If you break form from a seated position, you're really trying to do so.
Next would be your back. There is a common problem with most people, both experienced and novice when it comes to the exercise I'm going to recommend. The exercise is basic wide grip pull downs, and the problem is that most people use too much of their biceps and not their lats while performing the exercise.
Here is a way of thinking about it that may help... Instead of focusing on bringing the pull down bar down to your chest, instead think of bringing your elbows down to the side of your body next to your rib cage, concentrating on pulling with your elbows rather than your hands, completely ignoring that you have hands that are in contact with the bar. An easy check is to simply pay attention, and if you feel more strain on the inside of your elbows than in your lats then there is a problem with your form.
Then all that's left on your upper-body are your abs, very basic... CRUNCHES, all the crunches you can do keeping good form. Remember that the movement of crunches is very limited; arms folded across your chest, head slightly off the floor and then raise your head toward the ceiling (not your knees) 4-6 inches, and then make sure not to flop your head down on the floor. In a controlled manner lower your head back to its original position a few inches off the floor.
All that is left now is your lower body. For quads do
leg extensions, but remember two very valuable things. First, do not bend your knee below a 45-degree angle when lowering the weight, this puts a tremendous strain on your knee, and you will also lose some contraction of the muscle if you lower the weight all the way. Second pick a weight that you can extend to the full extent of your range of motion. Do these things and people may be calling you
quadzilla some day.
For hamstrings do standard leg curls. Think back to the part of bicep curls when I said to stop at the point where you feel the greatest contraction in your muscle, the same holds true here. Curling your legs too far will cause you to lose contraction and the efficiency of the exercise. Calves, along with abs are pretty limited in scope, I would do seated calf raises, giver the fact that the rest of your legs will be pretty fatigued by this point.
More To Come:
I plan to do this as a series of articles based on not only workout programs, but also provide you with a good bit of research information, I'm a Biochemistry major planning to do research on supplements once I graduate so check back every other week to see the latest I have to offer. Also feel free to email me on the link provided, I'll do whatever I can to help you out.
I'm sure you've noticed a trend developing focusing on form and control. This aspect can't be stressed enough. I'll close in the same manner as in the last article I wrote, be realistic and be patient; the extra plates will come in time.