For many beginners starting a resistance training program can be quite the endeavor. There is so much conflicting information when it comes to resistance training it can be difficult for the beginner, and even the intermediates lifters, to disseminate between truth and fiction.
The purpose today is to begin to acquaint you with the basics of weight training. Throughout this article I may refer to resistance training, or exercise in general, but keep in mind that I mean resistance training.
Unlike the nutrition aspect, which had many parts to it, weight training is only governed by 3 true principles. Specificity, Overload, and Progression. These 3 principles apply just as much to the elite athlete as they do to the weekend warriors and senior citizens.
Specificity in its most basic terms means to see a certain change you need to train specifically for that change to occur. For instance, if you are a young male and you want to increase you bench press strength to impress the hot blonde at the gym, then it makes no sense for you to waste countless hours doing curls. Curls will not help your bench press. You need to train in the bench press. Specificity can be applied to numerous aspects of exercise. Simple right?
Overload and Progression can really be seen as two parts of a similar principle. Overload simply means to see a continued change (improvement), whether it be to your muscle mass, bone density, or tendon strength, you need to expose your body to forces greater than what you are accustomed to. Take our hormone driven male in the first example. If he wants to continue to improve his bench press, it wouldn't do him any good to continually bench press 140lbs. If he never increases that weight he will hit a plateau and stay stuck at 140lbs. He needs to increase the weights to increase his adaptations.
Progression can be seen as an extension of overload. You need to continually progress your workouts to see a continual change. Please keep in mind that just like the snowflakes that cover the ground outside my window (all 18 inches of them I might add...I hate New England winters), humans are all different. The rate that one person changes will not be the same for another.
As you can see these principles are all connected to, and dependent on, one another.
Please understand that these articles are meant to provide you some background on exercise and should not be used as an all inclusive guide. I have spent many years of my life studying exercise and fitness and in an effort to make these articles interesting and relevant I have omitted many things. If you are new to exercise I ALWAYS recommend starting with a certified personal trainer to learn the safe and effective way of doing things. These articles can be a great reference for a beginner to help you understand why your trainer is doing something the way they are. Also please note that NOT ALL PERSONAL TRAINERS ARE CREATED EQUAL!!! I cannot stress this enough. Just because someone is a "certified" personal trainer does not mean they can tell a barbell from their...well you know. Do some research on your trainer. Try to find trainers that have well known and accredited certifications (such as NSCA, ACSM, NASM, and ACE). In addition you would be well served to look for a trainer that has a 4 year degree in exercise science, kinesiology, exercise physiology, or some other exercise/health related field. Failure to do your due diligence on your trainer can result in you wasting money, due to lack of results, or worse you can become injured due to their negligence. If you are working with a trainer and you have doubts about their capabilities then request another. It is your money and you right to get what you pay for and not to be injured while doing so.
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