The first 3-4 weeks are designed to learn proper technique as well as allow the ligaments, tendons, and muscles to adjust to the increased stress that will be placed on them incrementally in ongoing weeks. These opening 4 weeks lay the foundation not only for the body physically, but for the mind mentally.
Strength Training for Weeks 4-12
There are pros and cons of using machine weights and free weights. As a novice, machine weights will be a much better option in weeks 4 through 12 of your strength training program. Since this time period is primarily to build strength progressively, machine weights will offer more convenience increasing your chance of continuing your new program, as well as allow you to focus more intensely on working each muscle group rather than on correct body positioning. With machine weights, once you are set up properly, there is little room for misalignment.
Basic Machine Set Up With a Trainer
If you haven’t already hired a personal trainer to get you set up properly in each machine, then now would be a good time. At a minimum have the trainer show you the appropriate settings. You should write them down and have the trainer allow you to practice setting everything in front of him, as well as executing each machine in front of him. His or her feedback will be invaluable in ensuring you will practice correctly on your own, thus decreasing injury occurrences. This will take a minimum of 4- 5 sessions with a trainer. Additionally, during these sessions, take the time to ask the trainer specifics on how and when to move up in weights and or reps. Keep in mind that a good trainer will not overwhelm you, but will help you make sense of these opening 12 weeks of base strength training, as well as assist in making adjustments for physical limitations.
Machines For Base Strength Training
- Leg Extension
- Leg Curl
- Hip Adductor
- Hip Adductor
- Leg Press
- Chest Press
- Lattisimus Dorsi Pull Down
- Shoulder Press
- Bicep Curl
- Tricep Press Down
For progressive strength gains aim for training 2-3 days per week implementing all of the above exercises in the order indicated. It will be necessary to take a day or two off in between to allow your muscles to rest.
Perform each exercise one time aiming for 10 – 12 repetitions for upper body and 12 -15 for the lower body. You should strive in using a weight that is heavy enough that by time you get to the 10th -12th repetition for upper body and 12 -15 for lower body, the muscle is moderately fatigued. When you can do the upper repetitions on three consecutively training sessions then move up in weight. Most weight machines will have increments of 5 and 10 lbs. If you can at least perform 8 repetitions for the upper, and 10 for the lower then keep the increased weight and proceed from there.
Since your main priority during this 12 week period is to gain strength, one set to fatigue, according to research, is the most effective means for increasing strength. Your main priority should be to focus intently on each exercise and exhaust each muscle group thoroughly. Quality, not quantity is paramount in progressively gaining strength and increased muscle tone.
In upcoming articles look for how to proceed after this basic strengthening 12 week program. You’ll learn different techniques for various goals, such as defining the muscles of the arms or back. You’ll be wise not to skip this 12 week strength program as it lays the foundation for improving the look of your muscles throughout the body.