Strength Workout

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]
Almost 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.

5: Calves
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]
The 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.

8: Hamstrings
Now that your upper body is spent, go head over to the Leg Curl machine to do a little work on the hamstrings.

9: Biceps
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
Finally, to 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.

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