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Simplified Strength Training

Weight training made easy

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Updated April 26, 2005

Strength training is an essential part of most fitness routines. It is also great for injury prevention and rehab, but many weight training programs are long and complicated. If you avoid weight training because you get overwhelmed or discouraged, this simplified routine may work well for you.

General Guidelines

  • This is a quick, easy to follow plan, but you may adjust it as needed.
  • Perform the routine once a week for strength maintenance or two to three times a week to build strength and power.
  • Separate workouts by 1-2 days to allow for full recovery.
  • Quality is more important than quantity. Maintain good form and keep the weight under control - Don't bounce, throw or drop the weights.
  • Begin your training at the minimum number of repetitions. Build up to the maximun reps over time and then add 3-10 percent more weight and drop back to the minimum number of repetitions.
  • If you can't perform the minimum number of reps, decrease the weight by 3-10 percent.
  • You can substitute exercises (squats instead of a leg press) if you don't have the specific equipment available.
  • Lift speed should be a 1-2 second lift, and a 2-4 second lower.
  • Keep a training log to track weight loads and progress.
  • Don't forget a 5 minute warm-up and warm-down.

The routine:

  1. Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of aerobic work, like a spin on a lifecycle or an easy jog.
  2. Exercise: Leg Press
    Week 1-4 Min/Max repetitions goal:20-25
    Week 5-8 Min/Max repetitions goal: 8-12 x 2 @ 1-2 minutes rest
  3. Exercise: Rowing
    Week 1-4 Min/Max repetitions goal: 10-15
    Week 5-8 Min/Max repetitions goal: 5-10 x 2 @ 1-2 minutes rest
  4. Exercise: Leg Extension
    Week 1-4 Min/Max repetitions goal: 15-20
    Week 5-8 Min/Max repetitions goal: 6-10 x 2 @ 1-2 minutes rest
  5. Exercise: Push-ups (remember up on a 1-2 count, down on a 2-4 count)
    Min/Max repetitions goal: 1-maximum possible in 60 seconds
  6. Exercise: Leg Curl
    Week 1-4 Min/Max repetitions goal: 15-20
    Week 5-8 Min/Max repetitions goal: 6-10 x 2 @ 1-2 minutes rest
  7. Exercise: Bent-arm Pull-down (mimics the basic pull of freestyle or butterfly using the lateral pull-down machine)
    Week 1-4 Min/Max repetitions goal: 10-15
    Week 5-8 Min/Max repetitions goal: 6-10 x 2 @ 1-2 minutes rest
  8. Exercise: Calf Raises
    Week 1-4 Min/Max repetitions goal: 15-20
    Week 5-8 Min/Max repetitions goal: 6-10 x 2 @ 1-2 minutes rest
  9. Exercise: Rotator Cuff Exercises (light weight, do several different types: internal rotation, external rotation, etc. - focus on smooth movements - intended to reduce/prevent shoulder injury)
    Min/Max repetitions goal: 10-15
  10. Exercise: Back Extensions
    Min/Max repetitions goal: 10-15
  11. Exercise: Abdominal Crunches (this exercise always has two sets of repetitions)
    Min/Max repetitions goal: 10-25 x 2 @ 1 minute rest
  12. Cool-down: 5-10 minutes of easy aerobic work, like a spin on a lifecycle or an easy jog.

This general workout for upper and lower body should only take 35-60 minutes.

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