For many women, the thought of starting a resistance training program can be an exciting thought! Besides, what woman doesn’t want toned arms, a flat stomach and great glutes that can all be the result of incorporating resistance training! However, getting there is the biggest challenge. Many women struggle with the details of when, when, where and how.
Therefore allow me to give directions on how to reach your fitness goals by using resistance training as the vehicle! Consider this a roadmap from start to finish!
STEP 1: Determine Your Days
Determine which days of the week you are going to devote to your workouts (ex. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). On the days that you perform your resistance training perform at least 30 minutes. You can perform additional amounts of cardio if your current fitness condition allows you.
If or when you only have an hour to workout, split your time doing 5- minute warm-up, 25 minutes of resistance training and 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise. If you only have 30 minutes for cardiovascular activities, I recommend doing intervals which consists of doing a high level burst of activity, followed by rest for a short period of time before going back to the high level activity (Ex. Sprint for 1 minute, recover by walking for 30 seconds).
STEP 2: Determine Which Body Part(s)
Once you have determined which days of the week you’re going to train, you will then determine which muscle(S) group (s) you’re going to train. If you’re a beginner it is recommended that you perform a total body routine which allows you to perform at least 2 exercises for each major muscle group. Performing a total body routine, places less stress on any particular muscle group which will assist you in possible injuries and early burnout. Intermediate and advanced individuals may exercise one or two muscle groups at a time, 3-4 days per week allowing at least 48 hours of rest between each muscle group for recovery.
STEP 3: Have Your Plan Ready
Prior to arriving to the gym, know which muscle groups you’re going to train and what exercises you’re going to perform to train them. Once you have completed your general warm-up go straight to performing your resistance training exercises. Stay focused and move from one exercise to another in a circuit fashion if your current fitness level allows you to accomplish this. Don’t rest any longer than 60-90 seconds after one set of exercises or no longer than 90 seconds after a complete circuit.
STEP 4: Warm-Up Properly
Prior to each workout session perform a warm-up for at least 5-10 minutes of light to moderately light physical activity. This could mean walking on the treadmill or cycling on the bike. The warm-up is essential in increasing
your core temperature and prepares your body for your workout. NEVER skip a warm-up; doing so can increase your risk of injury which can lead to chronic issues if left untreated.
STEP 5: Cardio Time
Once you have completed your resistance training routine, go straight to your cardiovascular activity. By this time your core temperature has been raised your body is ready to perform your cardio.
STEP 6: Stretch
Once you have completed your cardio, stretch each large muscle group in what is known as a static hold stretch for 15-30 seconds. At all times only stretch as far as your body naturally will allow you to. Do not bounce while you’re stretching and do not stretch cold muscles! Perform at least 1-2 stretches per muscle group most if not all days of the week.
For optimal performance ensure you are eating at least 2 hours prior to your training session. Therefore prior to your workout session consume a good source of protein and complex carbohydrate such a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of Almond Milk. Carbohydrates are your bodies’ main fuel source and when consumed with a healthy source of protein, can sustain your energy levels throughout your workouts. (Ex. A peanut butter and banana sandwich, protein drink and 1 piece of fruit). If you don’t want a solid try a liquid and consume at least 1 hour prior to workout. This can consist of a protein drink with frozen fruit.
If you’re training at a high intensity beyond 1 hour it may be essential to replenish your glycogen (sugar) stores with an intra-workout drink such Gatorade or PowerAde. Drink only when needed due to the amount of sugar found in these drinks.
Within 30 minutes from the completion of your workout, consume a healthy source of protein and carbohydrates. 81
Drink water before, during and after each workout. Water assists your body in temperature regulation during and after workouts. Don’t forget to stay hydrated, dehydration can affect performance and cause cramps.
KEEP PROPER FORM: At all times maintain proper form and never jeopardize form in order to make increases in the amount of weight you desire to lift. The key to progress is to perform EACH movement with proper form with an amount of weight that is
appropriate to your current fitness level.
Allow at least 24-48 hours between each training session of each muscle group in order to avoid overtraining and to recover properly. You may experience soreness which may peak 48-72 hours after your training session. This is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS. This is a natural effect of exercise however, listen to your bodies signals. If you remain sore for longer than 72 hours you may need to drop your amount of weight, sets and repetitions and rest for longer periods of time after your workouts.
The more often you apply these principles and steps the more they will become second nature to you.