When doing weight lifting the first thing that needs to be addressed is what you want to achieve by lifting weights.
Obviously there are the weight lifting workouts specifically for body builders and power lifters but if it was a specific area of your body you wanted to improve then this would need a different workout, as would a long distance runner who is using a weight lifting program to improve their performance.
Your weight lifting workout should reflect your goal — a big arms workout might be part of a body builder’s workout plan although it might not be a part of a power lifter’s.
Power Lifter VS Body Builder
For different weight lifting workouts it’s the exercise, frequency and volume you decide on that will shape the workout.
For example: for a power lifter the weight lifting workout would revolve around the 3 major exercises: the squat, deadlift and bench press — all utilizing humongous weights and doing fewer reps in order to strengthen the muscles.
On the other hand, a body builder’s exercises are focused on specific muscle groups, as their goal is to look the best with hardly any body fat and big, well-defined muscles. They usually opt for the split-weight training routine, which bears more exercises than a power lifter’s one and more reps of each. You might also see these referred to as ‘ABA BAB’ workouts.
Strength, Size & Endurance
In general there are 3 types of weightlifting workouts and they basically revolve around the frequency–or amount of reps you do with the weights:
- Muscle strength
For strength it’s fewer reps and heavy weights. Heavy enough to make you struggle on your last reps.
- Muscle size
For muscle hypertrophy it’s more reps than for strength but less than for endurance. Moderate weight.
- Muscle endurance
For muscle endurance it’s more reps with a lighter weight.
You should choose a weight that will exhaust your muscles for the amount of reps you do. However one thing all weight lifting workouts should have in common is rest.
When you’re all cool and working out in the gym, your muscles are torn and then re-built — this is what makes them stronger and bigger so to allow that process to occur you need to take a time off and allow your muscles to rest.
Isolation VS Compound
There are isolation and compound (such that use 2 or more joints for movement) exercises that you can choose to do in your workouts. A power lifter will use the compound exercises that will be in the competition whereas a body builder will isolate muscle groups and work on a different one in each weight lifting workout.
Isolation exercises can also be used to balance muscles, for example a kayaker that uses their shoulders and arms a lot when on a river may want to work on their lower back muscles and chest, to ensure these muscles perform at their best.
As well as different programs and goals you can also use different equipment for different weight lifting workouts. You can choose to go the machine-training route or the free-weights one, but you should definitely combine the both.
Machines VS Free-Weights
Free weight training has more to offer as it requires you to use muscles to stabilise the lifting of the weight. However, machines can be good for beginners who naturally don’t know too much exercises and raise an eyebrow at the mention of ‘good form’.
Basically, if you’re an average gym-goer, you should:
- do heavy enough weights for your level and keep at the rep range of 8~12;
- combine both machines and free-weights;
- allow at least 1 day of rest before training the same muscle group again;
- keep good form, especially when doing compounds such as squats and deadlifts;
- start with compounds if really skinny to build a foundation upon which to improve…
… and be awesome.