The adaptation to change and health implications of resistance exercise are very dynamic and variable to each individual. For long-lasting change, there needs to be a systematic administration of a sufficient stimulus, followed by an adaptation of the individual, and then the introduction of a new, progressively greater stimulus. Whether training for sports performance or health enhancement, much of the success of the program will be attributable to the effectiveness of the exercise prescription in manipulating the progression of the resistance stimulus, the variation in the program design and the individualisation of the program.
Repetitions (reps) indicate a number of exercises repeated subsequently. The same exercise (e.g. biceps curl) is repeated a number of times with the same resistance and weight.
Sets are groups of reps followed by a rest period. A set may involve 12 reps of an exercise (e.g. biceps curl) with a brief pause between each set.
Depending on the experience of the individual an aerobic workout should last at least 20 - 30 minutes for a cardio-vascular effect. A beginner however should start with only this amount and increase the duration up to 60 minutes over time. Weight training duration will depend on the exercises performed however it is suggested that 1- 2 minutes rest between sets is appropriate for muscle rest and replenishment.
Workload refers to the proportion of effort (of full workload) that is used to perform a particular exercise, repetition or set. If the full effort is stated as 100% (or 1RM one rep-maximum), then 80% workload represents only 80% of 1RM.
The heart rate is often used as a measure of intensity in training. Achieving a rate between 70-85% maximum heart rate (MHR) is regarded as effective training. MHR is determined by the formula:
MHR = 220 - age. This is then multiplied by the recommended percentage. For example, a 30 year old working at 70-80% should aim for 133 to 152 beats per minute.
Another system of assessing intensity is the talk test. If the exerciser can talk comfortably without stopping or struggling then the person is safely within aerobic limitations. If he/she cannot, then the exercise is possibly anaerobic and above safe levels for that person.
Intensity can also be defined as the degree of effort put into the exercise. The more intensity applied to a muscle the more quickly it will increase by hypertrophy. Ways to increase intensity include increasing weight (resistance), doing more reps or sets, or reducing rest periods.
Target heart rate ranges refer to the optimum range for which a person should work at. Many people follow the 70% target as a rule of thumb, but in fact various ranges may be best for different people.
- Zone 1: General health and fitness/Beginner 50-60% range
- Zone 2: Weight Management at 60-70% range
- Zone 3: Aerobic Conditioning at 70-85% range
- Zone 4: Athletic Performance at 80% plus
Frequency refers to how often the exercise is performed. Some prefer training every second day and covering all muscle groups in each session. Others train every day but exercise alternative muscle groups each session. Time availability plays a major role in frequency.
Beginners: 1 - 3 sessions per week
Non - consecutive
Intermediate - Advanced: 4 - 12 sessions per week
Maintenance: 2 - 3 sessions per week for aerobic fitness
1 session per week for strength / power
3 - 4 sessions per week for muscle mass and definition.
Work Out Time
Time is needed to be allocated to the purpose of bodybuilding, and resistance training. Many trainers exercise in the mornings during 8.am -12 noons. Others select the times between 3-6pm. The individual needs to select a time they can put aside for training. A priority should be made to only use this time for training. The potential professional bodybuilder should see this as crucial. For the occasional resistance trainer this is not as important, but without regular training sessions benefits gained to the body may be lost.
Covered by number of reps, sets and rate of contraction for resistance training.
Time and distance for aerobic activities
Limit overall workout time by setting limits to recovery between sets
3 phases of program
Warm up: 5 - 10 minutes
Resistance training: 15 - 45 minutes
Cool down: 5 - 10 minutes
Total: 25 - 65 minutes Aerobic conditioning: 10 - 60 minutes
The exercises are the actual components of the session work out. They may include dumbbell lateral raises, leg extensions, wide-grip bench press, dead lifts, etc. It is important the exercise is done in its correct form. This means it is done correctly to maximise the hypertrophy of the muscle in order to gain maximum results. Taking shortcuts will not aid the aim of the body trainer. A work out normally concentrates on one group of muscles then rotates the next work out with another group of muscles.
Large muscle groups should be trained first then moving onto smaller muscle groups. For example: the chest, then the triceps. This is because training the chest is a larger muscle group and it also used tricep muscles therefore they have warmed up.
Exercises that go well together are:
Back and Biceps
Chest, Shoulders and Triceps
Legs may be trained on their own as this may be a longer workout. i.e.: quadriceps, hamstring, gluteals and calf muscles have to be trained to complete legs.
It is up to the individual how much time they have and what body parts they like to do in a workout.
Overload causes physiological adaptations when is above what is considered to be normal. Appropriate overload for each person is achieved by manipulating the training variables of frequency, intensity and duration.
Aerobic fitness improves by maintaining THR - (Target Heart Rate).
Aerobic and anaerobic fitness will improve via Interval training. Interval Training involves repeated high intensity bouts of exercise followed immediately by a set recovery or rest period. This enables the participant to do more work than if the exercise was continuous.
Typical work rest ratios include:
1 work: 3 rest for speed development
10 seconds: 30 seconds
1 work: 2 rest for anaerobic development
10 seconds: 20 seconds
1 work: 1.5 rests for aerobic development
60 seconds: 90 seconds
Applying overload to a muscle increases hypertrophy.
Overtraining may occur with novice body builders as well as advanced. The desire to achieve the sculptured look may cause the person to overlook this factor. Excessive overtraining may actually reduce muscle mass. Overtraining occurs when the bodybuilder does too many long strenuous work outs past the point of recovery during the rest period. As the person reaches the point of damage, the body sends signals called biofeedback as warning signs. If training is continued, severe damage may occur. Be aware that biofeedback signals are to be looked for, and when noticed, precautions taken.
Typical signals of overtraining: (source: Joe Weider's Ultimate Bodybuilding 1989)
Lack of enthusiasm
Chronic fatigue (low energy levels)
Persistent sore muscles and/or joints
Deterioration of motor co-ordination
Loss of appetite
Deterioration of ability to concentrate
Elevated morning pulse rate
Elevated morning blood pressure.
A pause between exercises lasting 30 seconds - 2 minutes to allow the muscles to partially recuperate before moving onto another set.
Spotters and Training Partners
Spotters are training partners who act as safety helpers when performing heavy exercises. If the strain or exercise is too great at any time, especially bench presses, they can help remove the weight, force out reps (achieve overload) or assist keeping the correct technique.
Spotters and partners also provide motivation and encouragement to aid a bodybuilder and resistance trainer.
Stretching after a workout is suitable only for aerobic and anaerobic activities. It is a good warm up and cool down exercise - helps with preventing muscle soreness, promotes rapid recovery, reduces the risk of injuries and improves neuro-muscular co-ordination. It can be enjoyable - if done correctly it helps to make the body feel better.
Stretching after hypertrophy, strength and power training however may induce muscle spasm and increase risk of muscle tearing. If completed it should be very gentle.
Warm ups and cool downs
A good warm up will help prevent injury during a training session and allows trainers to get more out of the session. Usually includes light aerobic exercises and stretching.
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