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Strength Training and Weight Lifting Workouts:

10 Basic Ideas for a Successful Resistance Fitness Routine

For physical conditioning, weight loss goals or to build muscle with a heavy regimen of weight lifting, endurance and strength training is a great way for women and men to reach fitness goals.

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Get advice from a professional for a basic guide to getting started safely in a program with maximized results. Even if you're doing your routine at home a trainer can help. In high intensity work, bodyweight management or cardio fitness, consulting with an expert can prevent injury. Personal trainers create customized strength training programs for their clients. Try these tips to help you stay on track while achieving your fitness goals.

  • Change Your Weight Routine When You Need To. If you haven't been working out very long, your body may not be ready for a change. Stick with your initial workout for a least a month to learn the correct form and to start seeing changes in your strength and endurance.  
  • Set Goals and Make Time for Planning. People who set solid, measurable goals tend to achieve them. Plan your fitness goals in three month intervals, with a major goal set a year from when you begin. Get a fitness assessment with a trainer, set goals and write them down.  
  • Time Your Workout Routine Changes. Fitness mavens say it's ideal to change workouts after four to six weeks. You may not need drastic changes to see results: focus on the muscle groups you want to work, and vary the exercises in those groups to meet your goals.  
  • Lifting Exercises Order Matters. Changing the order of bodybuilding exercises you do impacts the way you use your muscles, so pay attention to your new sets and reps. Either do all the exercises for one group of muscles before moving on to the next muscle group (this is called "stacking"), or alternate exercises between muscle groups. Mix it up with machines and dumbbells.  
  • Add Variety to Your Workout by Adding or Reducing Sets. Changing the number of sets you do will give you a different workout. You may find you want to focus on new muscle groups in your weight lifting and maintain the ones you've been religiously working since you started. Add core strengthening with Pilates exercises.
  • Alter Weight Lifting Resistance. There are three basic combinations for sets and reps. In the pyramid, as the weight increases, the number of reps decrease, and lighter weights mean more repetitions. People tend to do either half-ascending or half-descending pyramids, choosing either higher weights for anaerobic exercises and bigger muscles, or lower weights and more reps for longer, more toned muscles.
  • Muscle Recovery Times are Based on Your Goals. If you want to build endurance in a certain set of muscles, you'll need short recovery times lasting less than one minute. If your goal is to become stronger and more powerful overall, you will need longer rest periods for your body to adapt to the exercises.  
  • Keep a Weekly Exercise Log. To reach your goals, keep accurate records. Write down your routines, including the sets, reps, weight levels and rest times.  
  • Pay Attention to Your Body’s Needs. If you're sick or too sore, you may try to push yourself to do the workout as usual. Remember that you're human and your body has different needs when you're not feeling well or when you've overstressed your body. If you work out hard when you don't feel good, you're setting yourself up for lowered resistance to sickness or for injury.  
  • Remember Your Fitness and Weight Loss Goals. Planning is a bore, but achieving your goals makes it all worthwhile. If you find yourself wishing you were doing something else, remind yourself of the big picture: take time to envision the goals you want to achieve.
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