Strength-Training Regimens

Strength training involves intense and short-duration activities. For beginners, adding 10 – 20 minutes of modest strength training two to three times a week may be appropriate. The following are some guidelines for starting a strength regimen:

The sequence of a strength training session should begin with training large muscles and multiple joints at higher intensity, and end with small muscle and single joint exercises at lower intensities.

You should perform both shortening and lengthening muscle actions. Emphasizing the movements that lengthen muscles is of increasing interest. This approach involves slowing and increasing the duration of these “down” movements. It appears to significantly increase blood flow, and some evidence suggests it may achieve stronger muscles more quickly. It may also improve heart function compared to standard movements. Exercises that lengthen muscles may be particularly beneficial for older people and some people with chronic health problems. This type of training increases the risk for muscle soreness and injury, however, and this approach is still controversial.

Strength training involves moving specific muscles in the same pattern against a resisting force (such as a weight) for a preset number of times. This is called a repetition. People should first choose a weight that is about half of what would require a maximum effort in one repetition. In other words, if it would take maximum effort to do a single repetition with a 10-pound dumbbell, the person would start with a five-pound dumbbell. In the beginning, most people can start with one set of 8 – 15 repetitions per muscle group with low weights. As individuals are able to perform one or two repetitions over their routine, weights can be increased by 2 – 10%.

Breathe slowly and rhythmically. Exhale as the movement begins. Inhale when returning to the starting point.

The first half of each repetition typically lasts 2 – 3 seconds. The return to the original position lasts 4 seconds.

Joints should be moved rhythmically through their full range of motion during a repetition. Do not lock up the joint while exercising it.

For maximum benefit, one should allow 48 hours between workouts for full muscle recovery.