Organising Weights Sessions
There are quite a few things to bear in mind when you are putting together a weight training session or programme.
Firstly, you need to work out how many weights sessions you are going to do each week. Then you need to consider which exercises you are going to perform, in which order, with how much weight and recovery, and how many repetitions to perform.
Below we will try to answer or at least guide you through some ideas that might help.
It is easy do too much weight training. If you are new to them, then one session a week will form a good basis for learning techniques, and you'll start to get stronger if you combine it with circuits and are starting from a fairly low base. To progress significantly, however, weight training twice a week is advisable. Those looking to compete at the highest level, particularly in sprinting events, will probably want to do three sessions a week.
Generally, it is worth preparing the muscles you are going to develop for the stresses they'll encounter during weight training by following a circuits schedule for at least a few weeks before commencing a weights schedule.
It is important that you don't develop any part of your body out of proportion with the rest. Basically, this means not concentrating on too small a range of exercises - instead balancing them against each other. An example of this would be to do bench press for the chest and arms, and balancing this with upright row for the arms and back.
With this is mind, free-weight "Olympic" type exercises develop better all round body strength.
This is not vital, but it is useful to put the heaviest and most powerful exercises early in the session and the others at the end.
Another tip is to try to alternate an upper body exercise with leg exercises. Although not always done, generally you will complete all your sets of one exercise before moving on to the next.
How many reps and at which weight?
When you first start weight training it is important to learn the techniques on a low weight before you move up to heavier weights, even if this means starting with just the bar in many cases. As far as the number of reps goes this is up to you and you may feel you want to vary it according to the exercise that you are doing. As a rough guide we'd suggest doing three to five sets.
As far as the number of repetitions in each set goes a reasonable starting point is 6-8, then as you progress either reducing this number to increase the pure strength element or increasing a bit to increase muscle mass. It is rarely worth doing more than 12-15 reps in any set - just make the weight heavier and do less.
There are two elements to recovery.
Between sets in the session you need to take recovery according to how you feel and whether you are concentrating on pure strength or more endurance. The amount of time might vary from just 30 seconds right up to 5-7 minutes.
Equally important is the amount of time between sessions. If you are attempting more than one session in a week, try to leave at least 48 hours betweens sessions to allow for full recovery.
Do you need help deciding what weights equipment you should use? Try our Weight Training Equipment Review
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