How to Lift Weights: the Golden Rules
Somebody asked me, so here it is: the best practices of pumping iron. And what, you may ask, makes me a freakin' expert? Nothing, except that I can bench press more than my own bodyweight; that's a traditional measure of someone who is "strong." Caveat lector.
I did not originate these guidelines, of course, but have distilled the thinking of the real experts into bite-sized pieces. For an expanded discussion and links to good weightlifting resources, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) from the newsgroup misc.fitness.weights. For a fine site with much great advice and illustrated tutorials demonstrating how to perform the most valuable compound exercises (squat, dead lift, etc.), see Krista Scott's Krista Smash!.
And without further ado, the Golden Rules:
- Prefer free weights (dumbbells and barbells) to machines.
- Prefer compound movements (e.g., bench press) to isolation
exercises (e.g., pectoral flyes).
- Exercise all muscle groups, i.e., don't neglect legs and back in
favor of the more visible chest, shoulders, and arms.
- Progressive resistance is the key to building strength. Lift the
heaviest weight you can manage for 6 - 10 repetitions, then next time add more
weight. Try to lift a slighter heavier poundage each and every session.
- It is a waste of time to perform large numbers of repetitions. If you want to appear "toned," shed body fat to increase definition.
- Perform exericses with strict attention to form and timing. Among other benefits, doing movements correctly reduces any chance of injury.
- Don't imagine that you can grow muscle or gain (much) strength when dieting, especially while following a low-carb diet. Both insulin and excess calories are necessary for growth.
- Take a notebook to the gym and track your progress session-to-session.