Weight Training Frequently Asked Questions
There are a lot of rumors out there about weight training that leads to weight training frequently asked questions. It ranks up there with Bigfoot, JFK assassination, and Kim Kardashian. Ok maybe not that bad, but a close second.
Many are simply not true. Let’s talk about some of the major questions and see if we can solve those myths and get you on your way to an enjoyable weight training plan.
Weight Training Frequently Asked Questions
How long should I work out?
Some say you only need 10 minutes, while others say the more the better. The optimal amount of time for weight training is probably somewhere in the middle: 20-40 minutes.
Now I know there are those meatheads out there that think you should sleep with a dumbbell next to your bed, but it isn’t true. You don’t want to go past an hour. As you get past 60 minutes you run the risk of exhausting your nervous system and you could stunt the growth of your hormone levels.
As you put more stress on your body, it triggers a hormone called cortisol that is triggered by emotional and physical stress. This hormone sends signals to your body as a defense mechanism to hold on to the current fat to store for energy reserves.
For this reason I recommend doing strength training on alternating days from your cardio. You can test for yourself to see if you get better results by doing more, but 20-40 minutes a good place to start.
Should I do “Two-a-days”?
For those that don’t know, two-a-days are just what it sounds like: working out twice a day. I personally feel you can get great results without this. Just like your body needs training, it also needs rest. This helps your body heal and build up lean tissue after you break it down from working out.
Let’s say if you ignore this and want to go for it. If so, make sure that one session is weight training while the other is cardio. If you get to the point where you start doing “two-a-days” between cardio and weight training, it is ideal to do cardio in the morning for 20-30 minutes and then 20-30 minutes in the afternoon of resistance training. We talked about why getting cardio first thing in the morning helps you to burn more fat.
If you are looking to do both exercises right after each other, then it is better to lift first and do cardio second. I have noticed people tend to burn more fat doing cardio after lifting, than the other way around. Be careful though because your cardio could struggle working out that long.
I have done that in the past and have found myself skipping cardio when I probably needed it the most. It doesn’t hurt to shift to having your cardio first every other day or every 3-4 days in order to keep your body guessing.
I do think it is smart to split up workouts with a bit of a break if you are going to do a two-a-day. Why is this the case?
- A double boost in your metabolism throughout the course of the day.
- If you do both cardio and lifting at the same time, the second exercise tends to struggle.
- It prevents you from hitting the plateau effect that comes with overtraining.
It is important that you do different muscle groups when you lift on consecutive days. When you are lifting weights, you are breaking down your muscle tissue. Doing the same muscle groups daily doesn’t allow for necessary recovery of your muscle tissue. In fact, it is good to give each muscle group 3-7 days of recovery before going after them again.
When starting off with weight training usually 3-4 days a week of training is more than sufficient. As you progress, you don’t need to lift more than 5 days a week.
How Many Repetitions Should I Do?
This is one of the weight training frequently asked questions that will have an answer that varies quite a bit. If you are looking to increase strength then lift heavy weights for 4-8 repetitions. If you are looking for muscle building, then do 10-16 repetitions. If can do more than 12 reps with any exercise, then consider increasing the weight by 5-10 pounds. The exception may be if you are looking to cut fat and stay lean. If you can’t do at least 3 reps, then lower your weight to where you can.
The exception would be abs, calves or other smaller muscle groups where you can do and should do 15-25 reps or possibly up to 50. From my experience 6-12 reps is ideal for fat loss. More repetitions will eventually also lead to more muscle, which snowballs with more fat loss.
The common thought is that I will lose fat with more reps, but there is a good chance you actually will gain lean mass first. A lot of it has to do with what and how much you are eating.
More lean mass is what leads to a higher metabolic rate. The higher metabolic rate causes more fat to burn when you are resting after working out. It doesn’t mean a ton of fat, but every fat cell burned counts.
What is My Weight Lifting Pace?
Rest should be about 1 minute between sets. If you are trying to build strength and lifting more weight, then your breaks between sets should 90-120 seconds. If you are focusing on fat loss, more repetitions and lighter weight, then you only need 30 seconds between sets to create that aerobic effect, maybe less.
It is all about power. Look for how you can exert more force with more speed while being controlled with your form.
How Should I Lift?
Always choose quality over quantity. Don’t lift more weight just to feed your ego. Less is more when it comes to weight training. Focus on your repetitions being controlled with good form. Each repetition should take several seconds to lift and several seconds to lower.
People think that lifting the weight is what is important. In reality you should put just as much emphasis in lowering the weight. You don’t paint one side of a fence, and you shouldn’t treat your reps the same way.
By not cutting any part short on your weight training reps, you can get more results from fewer reps. Focus on the entire motion and making each movement count. This is that whole ying-yang Bruce Lee stuff. Push and pull, be like water, wax on, wax off. (That probably confused you more than anything else.)
Make sure that you feel the muscle burn in the intended muscle groups. When you lose form, you lose the potential impact those exercises can do for those muscle groups. This happens a lot with weaker muscle groups like your triceps or maybe your shoulders.
What Muscle Groups Should I Focus on First During My Workout?
As we mentioned weight training is all about compound movement. If you are doing compound exercises you are having a synergistic effect on multiple areas of your body. It is like a symphony of muscle-awesomeness.
I will say that if you are doing a couple muscle groups, focus on the weak areas first. I know my abs are the last place to lose fat so I will do those first before any other muscle group because I can exert the most power there with more energy. Otherwise the rule of thumb is to do large muscle groups like chest, back, shoulders before smaller groups like biceps and triceps.
How Should I Protect My Muscles?
This is one of the solid weight training frequently asked questions. To prevent injury always stretch first. We gave some examples through some video tutorials. It is also good to get your blood flowing with ballistic (movement) and static(motionless) exercises for 5-10 minutes before you start any exercise.
You can do this easily by running in place while shaking out or moving your arms in circles. Warm muscles mean a lower chance of injury. You should also stretch after each workout and cool down so you don’t cramp up or cause any injury.
Take care of your muscles by icing them to help your muscles recover faster after lifting. You can also take care of your muscles by walking in a pool. Water can be a lifesaver when it comes to recovery. You will see athletes often use ice baths after workouts to help their muscles heal faster from injuries, wear and tear.
Remember that lifting weights actually causes your muscle tissue to tear down and then build up stronger afterwards. If you protect your muscles after working out, then they recover faster.
Not So Bad Huh?
Weight Training is a process that you figure out over time just like a weight training frequently asked question. It just takes time and consistency. As you start seeing results, you can make tweaks as needed to get closer to your goals.
Next post in the weight training series we will talk about what is the right exercise strategy for you to find success.