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The Fundamentals of Resistance Training Exercises

Resistance exercise is one of the three key components in a balanced exercise programme, the other two being cardiovascular and flexibility training.

There are a number of principles, which apply to each of these modes of training and this article covers the fundamental principles, which should be applied to resistance exercise.

When preparing a resistance-training programme it is important to ensure that exercises are incorporated to target every major muscle group in the body.  This is imperative in order to maintain a balanced physique, avoiding possible muscle weaknesses, or postural problems.  The main areas to target are back, chest, shoulders, arms, abdominals, quads, hamstrings and calves.  In some instances, more than one muscle group can be worked at a time by using compound exercises, but it is still important to target each of the major muscle groups listed.

Another important aspect to any resistance-training programme is to allow sufficient rest for each muscle group between workouts.  There is little or no benefit to targeting the same muscle group more than once or twice each week, as when a muscle is worked, it needs sufficient recovery time to repair and rebuild.  Training splits are an excellent way of avoiding muscle over-training. A 3-day training split might look something like this:

Monday: back, biceps and hamstrings, Wednesday: chest, triceps and quads, Friday: shoulders, calves and abdominals

Another key element in any resistance-training programme relates to the number of repetitions performed in each set of a given exercise.  The number of repetitions completed is directly related to the goals of the individual.  Training for muscular endurance and toning typically requires 12 or more repetitions.  Reps ranging from 8 to 12 stimulate muscular growth and muscular strength improvements are achieved when rep ranges of 4 to 8 are used.

The final key element is progression.  In order to enable your body to improve, you must continue to increase the stimulus on your muscles.  This is achieved by increasing numbers of repetitions (whilst remaining within your desired rep range), increasing weights, or increasing the number of sets performed.  It is also necessary to change your exercises or training splits every 4 to 6 weeks to avoid plateaus in progress.

Note from author Dr. Andrew Smith: As part of a general health programme I recommend using a high quality multivitamin and multimineral product, along with an omega fatty acid supplement. 

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