See the Glossary for definitions of terms used in this document.
Spotting, Safety Features
Spotting is where another person assists you in the exercise to keep you from dropping the weight on yourself (bench press, military press) or to keep you from falling down with a large weight on your shoulders (squats). With the bench press, serious injury can result if you lose control of a large weight and it falls on you. Same with squats. If you lose your balance with a large weight you can seriously injure yourself. The squat rack has a safety frame which will remove most of the risk with squats but there is no protection on the bench. There are pins below the pedestals on the bench where you can rest the weight if you can't push it all the say up. Make sure you move yourself from under the weight as soon as you put it on these pins to avoid injury.
Never stretch a cold muscle.
Use only proper stretching techniques
Do not stretch your back and leg muscles by bending over and touching your toes!!
Less is more
If you have to stretch, stretch after exercise, not before.
You must warm up before you exercise. By warming up, you open up blood vessels and more blood – oxygen, nutrients – flow to the muscles. The blood vessels also carry away waste material – such as lactic acid – away from the muscles during exercise. Muscles are more supple, pliable and less prone to injury when more blood is flowing through them.
Joints also have lubricants that allow the two opposing bones to rub against each other with much less abrasion and wear. This lubricant is more effective when it is warm. Rotating the joints (wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, etc.) warms up the body's natural joint lubricants.
Machines Vs. Free Weights
You will notice a big difference in exercising on free weights compared with weight machines. I recommend free weights whenever possible and safe. Machines can be a good substitute when performing those exercises which you don't feel comfortable performing by yourself such as bench press and squats. Free weights provide much better resistance for the body because the body supports the full weight and thus more of the body's muscle groups are exercised. This gives better results. Obviously there are some muscle groups such as hamstrings and calves that cannot be exercised without machines, so use them when necessary.
Weight Belts, Knee Wraps and Other Weight Lifting "Aids"
The idea of creating strength is to damage the muscle during the exercise, then relying on the body to repair the muscle damage. This is the process of making the body stronger. Weight belts, knee wraps and other weight lifting "aids" are useful in competition because they make lifting easier and allow you to lift more weight. This, however, defeats the purpose of exercise, which is to train the body as intensely and strenuously as possible for the best results. I don't wear anything except my sweats and a good pair of shoes during my workouts. Some bodybuilders, Arnold Swarzenegger for example, didn't even wear shoes, even for squats. Power lifters commonly do not wear shoes during dead lifts in competition because shoes force them to bend down further, making the lift more difficult. A good pair of lifting shoes can be beneficial in preventing injuries to the arch of the foot as long as the shoes help keep the weight distributed properly on your feet. There are shoes designed for this purpose, which are available on the web.
Rule # 1: there is no rule. Some lifters "blow the weight up" i.e. exhale on the intense part of the exercise, pushing up, against the force of gravity (the "press"), e.g. pushing the weight off the chest in the bench press, and breathing in on the return, e.g. lowering the weight to the chest in the bench press. Do what feels most comfortable and don't be afraid to breath when you need to. I normally "blow the weight up" but on some exercises, I breathe in on every other press. I certainly take as many breaths as needed during an especially intense set.
Overtraining and Intensity
Very simply: Don't overdo it! If you are doing any intense form of exercise, the muscles need time to recover and rebuild (unless you use steroids, which are illegal). Many world-class power lifters are now eschewing steroids and competing in drug-free competitions. They recommend a reasonable recovery period that allows the body to repair the damage done to muscles during intense exercise, like weightlifting. When I say "damage", I mean the natural process of the body getting stronger through exercise. At the same time, you won't get the same gains in strength unless you train with intensity, i.e. the heaviest weight you can lift to muscle failure. How do we reconcile these two opposing principles?
A good way to do this is to perform a cycle. For example, with squats
week 1 150 lbs 2 sets of 10 reps
week 2 200 lbs 2 sets of 10 reps
week 3 315 lbs 2 sets of 10 reps
week 4 350 lbs 1 set of 10 reps
week 5 375 lbs 1 set of 5 reps
week 6 400 lbs 1 rep (maximum lift)
When lifting heavier weights, make sure you take some warmup sets, say 1 set of 10 at 200 lbs. A cycle allows the body to recover from intense workouts. Don't lift too heavy too fast. Work up too your most intense and strenuous workout slowly.
After you have reached your maximum point take some time off. One rule of thumb is 1 day off per month and 1 week off every 3 months or so. You will probably find you'll be taking time off anyway because of sickness or other conflicts so layoffs won't be a problem. Don't train intensely with a cold and certainly not when you are seriously ill. Don't lift every day. 3 times a week is enough. That's what I do. I also do aerobics on 3 other days of the week when I'm on my peak workout schedule. This may be a bit too hard on the body but it works O.K. I always take a day off each week to rest. So should you. Let the body recover. If your body tells you it's too tired, or you feel soreness, back off the weight or the number of reps.
Take time to get back into exercise after a layoff. My rule of thumb is if you have taken a certain time off from your most intense workouts, take double that amount of time to work up to that same level. Otherwise you will experience soreness, muscle strain or other more severe damage. Listen to your body: if it is in pain, there is something wrong you need to attend to. Don't work an area of your body that is in pain.
Through exercise the muscles become damaged and need materials to repair them. I recommend a zone-favorable diet with plenty of protein, good carbohydrates and good fat. Good carbohydrates are most fruits, vegetables and nuts. Bad carbohydrates are bananas, papayas and guavas, grains, cereals and potatoes. Get a zone diet book and follow its recommendations. Also, vitamin supplements are very important, the most important being vitamin C. If you take no other supplement, make sure you take vitamin C. Also strongly recommended is a good multiple vitamin with plenty of minerals, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E. Other supplements can also help with exercise like conjugated linolaic acid.
Warm up slowly (initial warm-up):
Weight Lifting Exercises
Power cleans – The best overall exercises, stimulating the arms (deltoids, triceps, biceps, trapezious, lower arm and grip), upper and lower back, (latissimus dorsi), buttocks, quadriceps, calves, and hamstrings. Just about all the muscle groups
The exercise should be performed in one continuous motion up the chest level, and one continuous motion to return the weight to the floor. Make sure that your back is arched concave to straight, i.e. if a line is drawn from the shoulders to the buttocks, the middle of your back should not pass through this line.
A variation of this exercise is to simply bring the weight up as high as you can but not resting it on the chest.
Squats - you will need a squat rack with a safety bar to keep you from falling with the weight on your shoulders and an Olympic size barbell.
NOTE: Avoid serious injury when using heavier weights by getting someone to spot for you.
Place the bar on the bench pedestals. Add any weights, not overloading one side without balancing with weight on the other. Lay down on back. Bring the weight off the pedestals and push the weight up. Bring the weight down and repeat.
Dead lift - the next best overall exercise. Like the power clean, you pick the weight up but only bring it to waste level, straightening the back, and then returning the weight carefully to the floor. Note the arch of the lifter’s back and the head with eyes looking up.
DO NOT DEADLIFT THIS WAY!!!!!!
Bent over barbell rows
Start this exercise with your knees slightly bent and your abs leaning against the upper thighs, tightly contracted. With your back parallel to the floor, grip the barbell with a shoulder-width grip.
With the barbell griped tightly, begin the weight lifting exercise by pulling the bar up toward and into your lower chest/upper abs. Use your arms to initiate the weight lifting movement, but do not swing the upper body upward. Once the bar touches your lower chest, lower the weight down toward your feet until your arms are fully extended.
Tip: This weight lifting exercise should be done in a smooth movement: no jerking! Try varying your weight lifting grip; see what works for you—wide or narrow.
Place a barbell on the floor in front of you. With a foot stance of about 16 inches apart, bend down and grasp the bar with both hands about 24 inches apart. Stand erect with the bar hanging in front of you at arm's length. Inhale and drop both shoulders down to the front as much as possible. Exhale and raise your shoulders up as much as possible. Inhale and return to the starting position. Keep your back straight.
Stand upright holding a barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand, shoulder-width grip.
Maintaining an upright posture, lift the bar upward along your body, leading with your elbows to bring the bar toward your chin. At the top, your elbows should be pointing toward the ceiling. Flex your shoulders for a moment, then straighten your arms to lower the bar back to the start.
Grasp the bars of a dip apparatus with a neutral grip (palms facing down and toward your body), hands about shoulder-width apart.
Lift yourself up to a straight-elbow position, supporting your weight with your arms. Direct your focus straight ahead and keep both elbows pointed rearward at all times.
Inhale and hold your breath as you lower your body under control until your upper arms are about parallel to the floor. Stop just short of feeling a stretch in your shoulders and chest to keep the emphasis on your tri's.
As you approach the bottom position, continue holding your breath and quickly push yourself back up by contracting your triceps to extend your elbows.
Exhale as you pass the most difficult point of the up phase, then continue to the fully extended elbow position.
Pause momentarily and repeat for reps.
Keep your body as vertical as possible throughout the exercise. Your legs may move back slightly.
You have a good idea of what a pullup is. Use the bar that you've placed on the top of the squat rack and place it on the top pin. If you're just starting and can't do a pullup, do the following
Feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly flexed (allows for greater stretching to the side) lightweight dumbell in one hand with opposite hand behind head (can be performed with no weight and arms relaxed at your sides), slowly lower to a comfortable side bend position. Return to starting position by contracting the oblique muscles on the opposite side. Repeat on the other side.
Slowly lower the weights out to your sides, trying to maintain a slight but constant bend in your elbows throughout the motion. Continue lowering until you feel a good stretch in your chest, then squeeze your pecs to bring the dumbbells back to the starting position. When you reach the top, squeeze for a moment and then repeat.
Standing Calf Raises
Stand holding a barbell balanced over your traps, or use a standing calf raise machine. With the balls of your feet on a raised surface, such as a step, and keeping your knee straight, lower your heels to stretch your calves.
Then press upward on the balls of your feet as high as you can.
Flexion of the knee
lift - Movement of the weight by the body, a motion where a weight is lifted, pushed or pulled, e.g. squats, dead lifts, etc.
repetition - One performance of a lift.
set - A series of repetitions. For example, 3 sets of 10 repetitions means to repeat a lift 10 times, rest, repeat the lift again 10 times, rest, repeat the lift again 10 times.
workout - A set of lifts, reps and sets.
concave back - If a line is drawn from the shoulders to the buttocks, the middle of your back should not pass through this line.