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Weight Training Programs For BodyBuilding

A lot of people out there are buying weight training programs without really understanding what it is all about and how and if these training programs are going to help them in anyway. Most of the people I have come across (including me at some stage of time), though of them as magic pills, like a answer guide before a tough examination - just read through it and you will clear the exam. But all those misconceptions fly off as soon as you get to it. Muscle building is not about reading thick books loaded with heavy terminology and colorful diagrams of body parts. Muscle building is properly working out in the gym, having a correct diet, spending your energy in right direction to gain muscle mass and build up a strong physique. I am sure you would have noticed one common pattern in all the things that go into building strong muscles, it is the guidance. You need to be sure that you are working out properly in the gym. You need to be sure that you are having the right type of diet. You need to be sure that you are spending your energy by training in right manner. So where does all this guidance comes from, that is where these weight training or muscle building programs fit in. Remember that using a right weight training program can direct your efforts in a manner where the muscle gains are maximized and the time it takes is minimized. It can really make you a glowing well built models who can really make heads turn and I know everybody wants to be that way.


What exactly is Weight Training ?

Weight training means adding resistance to the body's natural movements in order to make those movements more difficult, hence making the muscles work harder and become stronger. When we go through weight training we simulate those natural movements under strained conditions by adding more artificial resistance in form of weights, this results in increased stress on the muscles and makes them work harder. This gives muscles extra strength and mass.

Fundamental Techniques Of Weight Training

When we talk of weight training techniques, every expert has his own very well defined theory that he seems to adhere to and that he is ready to bet anything upon. However we can look at the two main branches of weight training.

High Intensity Training

High Intensity Training or HIT is a form of strength training popularized by Arthur Jones during 70's. HIT works on belief that workout routines should be brief while the intensity is to maximized. Hit since its introduction defied the notion of spending long hours in gym and a large number of sets with a large number of reps. Hit allows faster and supposedly equally effective workout routines thereby is a more popular method among the current generation of body builders. The fundamental principles of High Intensity Training are progression, intensity, duration, and frequency. The workouts are supposed to be performed with a very high level of effort so that the muscles are stressed to their maximum in order to increase mass and size. HIT technique advocates that there exists an inverse relationship between how intensely and how long one can exercise. Typically HIT programs comprise of a single-set per exercise, tri-weekly, full-body workout, but there are many existing variations in specific recommendations of sets, exercises, workout routines, volume and frequency of training.

Timeframed Progressive Overload

This philosophy advocates to look on cumulative gains in strength rather than focusing on each individual workouts. The idea to go about this, is to do training with a lighter set of weights for a few weeks, then move on to a higher set of weights for a medium training routine for a few weeks and then move on to a heavy training schedule for next few weeks. The difference between these two philosophy can be surmised by the fact that High Intensity training focuses on high intensity workouts while Periodization focuses on cycling of workout intensity. The above definitions should provide a basic idea to both the philosophies. One of the most popular technique that is employed to gain muscle mass is to HARDGAINER TRAINING. This routine focuses on low volumes, training splits and maximizing intensity to gain muscle mass faster. One of the most popular routine is a 3-day split routine with each muscle group trained once per week.

Weight Training Exercises

Weight Training exercises can be categorized in multiple ways.

  • IsoTonic & PolyMetric Exercise

Without going into two much details, Isotonic exercises focus on developing strength thru a constant force applied on muscles such as weight lifting. On other poly metric exercises focus on stretch-shortening cycle of muscles to enhance reflex. This promotes flexibility like that for athletes.

  • Isolation & Compound exercises

This is a more important topic to understand as compared to the previous ones. Isolation exercises focus on working out only a single muscle set. Specialized equipments are used so that the other muscle groups are involved to a very little extent. Most of the isolation exercises are performed with specialized machines instead of using free weights.

Compound exercises work on multiple muscle groups at same time and involve movement of more than one joint, e.g. leg press not only works out your quadriceps but also the hamstrings, glutes and calves. Compound exercises are more based on free weights, they involve more muscle groups.

It is important to understand that compound exercises build up the basic strength that is needed to perform the everyday activities while isolation exercises focus on individual muscle groups that are not getting proper attention during compound exercises.

Most of the weight training programs recommend compound exercises as the base exercises and place strong emphasis on them. Isolation exercises are supposed to be at the second level. Isolation exercises are more recommended in those weight training programs that focus more on look of your body muscles than gaining strength.

Free Weights Vs Weight Machines

Free Weights are dumbbells, barbells & kettlebells. The advantage of using free weights is that since they don't constrain a user to specific fix set of movements they help in development of stabilizer muscles to a much greater extent. Most weight training programs prefer use of free weight exercises to gain body strength.

Most of the gym are equipped with weight machines like cable machine or smith machines. Weight Training Programs specially designed for beginners or novices focus on use of these machines as they are more safe as compared to use of free weights. However most of bodybuilders and athletes stick to free weights over time.

Free Weights For Weight Training Programs
Sample Images Free Weights
Weight training machines for bodybuilding programs
Sample Images Weight Training Machines


Six Super Compound Exercises In Weight Training Programs

These big six compound exercises make the core of any weight training program. Not only they utilize all major muscle groups but they also work out on a number of smaller operative muscles. This is the reason for their inclusion in almost all training programs.

  • bench press

  • pull downs

  • dumbbell shoulder press

  • one-arm dumbbell downs

  • squats

  • deadlifts


Isolation Exercises In Weight Training Programs

Most Weight Training Programs divide the individual muscle's into nearly ten major groups. These are

  • Quadriceps (front of legs)
  • Hamstrings (back of legs)
  • Calves
  • Pectorals (chest)
  • Lats (upper back)
  • Deltoids and Trapezius (shoulders)
  • Triceps (back of arms)
  • Biceps (front of arms)
  • Abdomen (belly)
  • Obliques (sides)
  • Lower back

Each training program focuses on each of these groups in a separate manner. Most of the weight training program provide a very detailed layout of exercises that target each of the muscle group. Also, the depth of training details for these muscle group may vary from one weigh training program to other depending on weather the program is meant for beginners or advanced trainers.


Basic Terms Used In Weight Training Programs

Form - This refers to the precise manner in which the exercise movements are supposed to be performed.

Repetition - Most weight training programs and bodybuilders use the work rep for Repetition, this refers to a single movement or a single cycle of the exercise.

Set - A Set as laid out in training programs is a series of reps performed without taking any breaks.

Tempo - Speed with which exercises are performed; this effects your muscles directly. Different speeds will stress your muscles in different manners.

Circuit training - Peforming a series of exercises with no break in between them.

Progressive Overload - Most of the weight training programs place emphasis on progressive overload. Technically, this term means that the muscles are overloaded by attempting to lift as much weight as they can, this results in gaining strength and endurance.The central idea behind progressive overload is that your body muscles are adaptive and can be trained. You can train them as per your need, the more rigorously you train them, the more they adapt and develop strength.

There are a lot of theories regarding the optimal combinations of sets and reps. However the general theory that prevails in almost all of the weight training programs is

Sets of one to five : Primary focus on Strength and not muscle size or endurance

Sets of six to twelve : Balanced focus on Strength, muscle size & endurance

Sets of thirteen to twenty : Primary focus on Endurance

Although, each weight training program follows its own strategy for defining a workout schedule. One to six set per exercises and three exercises per muscle group is the trend most commonly accepted and laid out in training programs. Weight training programs that focus on muscle building normaly focus on the six to twelve reps sets, this is the range that produces the most optimal results for most of the bodybuilders. However this is just a guideline and should not be used as the final criteria. Variations in reps have been found helpful in most of the cases and also the number of optimal reps may be different for each muscle group. Most of the weight training programs design their workouts in limelight of these considerations.

Weight training is a very effective to enhance strength. Unlike other methods of increasing strength, weight training has more adjustable and measurable parameters. Hence most of the weight training programs are very precise when it comes to selection of exercises, weights, number of sets and reps etc.

Intensity: Intensity is the amount of force required to lift the weight. Most of the weight training programs emphasize on putting 100% intensity i.e. your workouts should be completely exhaustive. When you are performing a set your focus should be on putting the maximum intensity by lifting as much weight as is possible for your muscles. Muscles have traumatic contractions hence unless you put in your maximum efforts your muscles will know that you have saved something for later and you will never achieve the maximum output. If you really want to have a great physique then do what almost every weight training program tells you to do. Do your workouts with maximum intensity that you can put in. The more effort you put in the more your body will adapt to add in more muscle mass. Like in progressive overload your target should be to increase your intensity levels in each workout by putting in more weight.

Volume: Volume simply refers to the number of sets, reps and exercise that you do in each workout session.

Frequency: Frequency as used by weight training programs refer to the number of weight training sessions you put in each week.

Remember for best results you need to put in an optimal combination of Intensity, Volume and Frequency. Do not try to overdo them because that is going to result in Overtraining and bring in more harms than benefits.

Overtraining: Overtraining refers to condition when the volume and intensity exceeds the recovery capacity. This results in stopping of any progress, and can lead to losing of strength and fitness.

Warms Ups & Stretching: Don't neglect warm up sessions before your training workouts. You should always do some stretching and some light aerobics before you begin your training session. This will allow increase flexibility, warm up your body temperature, increase blood flow, loosen up joints. Most of the weight training programs carry a special chapter on proper warm up and stretching. It is quite necessary that these ideas are completely implemented when you start using the weight training program.

Weight Training Routines: There are a number of techniques that can be deployed to make weight training sessions more intense hence helping you in gaining more muscle mass and strength. Most of the weight training programs come with their own weight training routine. The best advice for any novice is that if you are following any of these weight training program then just follow the routines as provided in the training program itself. Most of the weight training programs are designed keeping beginners in mind and hence they take care of variations themselves. Once you have reached a decent enough level you can start experimenting, there are a lot of advanced techniques in muscle building that you can follow like Diminishing set, Supersets, Forced reps however you should bring in these variations once you have gained some weight and strength. Remember keep the variations alive, don't stick out with one single training routine else you will find very little progress coming in.

Periodization: Your weight training routine should be a progressively changing one. Once you get comfortable with a particular set of weights, your body will also have adjusted to the same amount of stress, so it becomes imperative to increase the stress. This can be done by increasing weight as well as changing the combination of reps and sets. Bringing in timely change in weight and your training schedule you can subject your muscles to new stress thereby bringing in more muscle mass.

Myth About How Weight Training Program Helps

Most of the people believe the weight training leads tearing of weak muscles and hence building of stronger muscles during the recovery process. However most of the muscles contractions are traumatic. Weight Training simulates HyperTrophy. Training produces more dystrophin, increase metabolism hence decreasing muscles soreness as muscles develope.

Rest & Recovery With Weight Training

Rest & Recovery is perhaps is one of the determining factor of success of your muscle building campaign. Muscles, depending on intensity and volume of workout, normally need 36-100 hours of rest period. Most of the weight training programs designed for beginners hence focus on designing a workout schedule with workouts on alternate days. The recovery period is always directly proportional to intensity of your workout. For advanced trainers who can train a single muscle group for three to four days. For advanced and professional bodybuilders it also take time because the rigorous weight training also effects tendons and bones along with muscles. For most of the beginners though, it is very important to understand that the muscles don't develop in gym, muscles develop while you rest. Most weight training programs try to schedule workouts by splitting one's routine between several workouts, by exercising few muscle groups on one day and the remaining ones on another. By targeting different muscle groups, they schedule workouts more frequently than is otherwise possible. Some general guidelines for beginners that are laid down by most weight lifting programs are

  • Take breaks after a few weeks.
  • Don't train a single muscle group more than two times a week if you train one muscle group a day.
  • Try to keep your workout sessions of less than one hour.

Once you have come out of gym, take proper rest. This is the period when your muscles will develop and providing a good ambient atmosphere to this development is as important as the intensity of your workout.

You can download and use this workout scheduler to keep track of your workouts. It will also help you monitor you progress and become more systematic.

For beginners its very important to have a right start. Having a perfect weight training program can give you the right launch while a wrong weight training will leave you disheartened and fatigued . If you are seriously considering having a better physique and not just wasting your time over, you can have a look at the this comprehensive review of best weight training programs.

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