In previous blog entries in my "Exercise" folder, I've talked about
cardio/endurance exercise. In an overall fitness program you'll also
want to work on flexibility (thru regular stretching) and speed (thru
sprints, racquetball, etc). Nutrition and rest are also important. But
today, I'm going to describe the strength routine that I do
twice per week. I know that everyone likes a different routine,
but this one might give you some ideas if you haven't really put
any thought into it and want to get started.
I bring the following chart with me to the gym, on which I list
my current weights and rep counts for each exercise, and make notes as
I go. Here's the chart, followed by some comments.
1/2: Abs and Obliques
A strong core is vital to
overall health and performance. The first two listed in the chart
are Ab exercises to work this area. I use "machines" for these
exercises, to supply enough resistance for 3 sets of 8-12 reps. This is
better than, say, 50 body weight crunches. The Oblique Twist machine
really helps the golf and racquetball swing. Strong abs are central to
just about any sport, and good for your back.
3: Squats: All Around Lower Body [Gluts/Quads/etc]
everyone says that a Squat exercise is one of the best full body
exercises there is. I like to use free weights for this one to also
improve stabilizer muscles. You'll really feel it in the quads. Use a
safety rack or a spotter.
4: Pushups: Chest and Triceps
Now that your legs
are rubber, here's a classic upper body "body weight" exercise. Once I
can do 50, maybe I'll switch to a bench press. For now, this is a great
workout for the chest and triceps and stablizers.
Having given your legs a little break,
this is a good focus exercise. It also gives you a few minutes before
the intense upper body work that comes next. The Calf Heel Raise
machine is a great way to build up the calf muscles. No, running really
doesn't build leg strength.
6/7: Pullups/Dips: All Around Upper Body [Shoulders/Back/Lats/Chest/Arms/etc]
assisted pullup and dip machines are great for you! You can set the
assist weight pretty high to start with... enough to just get in 3 sets
of 10 reps each. Again, being body weight exercises, the stablizers
come into play. Eventually, you'll work up to not needing an assist.
Now that your upper body is spent, go head over to the Leg Curl machine to do a little work on the hamstrings.
You've fatigued the biceps already, so
this focus exercise will really do the job. Arm Curl machines just
don't do it for me. I pick up one of the pre-loaded freeweight curl
bars for this one.
10: Lower Back
round out the workout, do Back Extensions on a "roman chair". This'll
work the lower back and balance out the abs. A strong lower back is
important to prevent injury in many day-to-day activities.