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6 Essential Variables in Weight Training

Custom-Build Your Exercise Program

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4. Exercise Order
Involves the sequencing of exercises during a training session. Decisions should be based upon how the athlete responds to specific exercises and how the exercises performed first will affect exercises performed later. Typically, exercises that require the most refined technique and recruit the larger prime movers are performed first, followed by assistance exercises. For example, a single-leg balance squat should be performed before a one-leg calf extension. Another method that allows for adequate recovery involves alternating between upper and lower body exercises.

5. Training Load and Repetitions
Refers to the amount lifted and the number of times the weight is lifted. Typically, there is an inverse relationship between load and repetition. This means if the load lifted is high, the number of repetitions is low and vice versa. The load lifted is usually dependent on the goals of the training program. For example, a resistance program geared for gains in muscular strength require lifting heavier loads and fewer repetitions. Conversely, a program geared towards muscular endurance or "toning" requires lower loads and higher repetitions.

6. Rest Intervals
Refers to the amount of time between exercises. Generally, rest intervals are based on exercise experience and goals of training. Typically, an athlete with limited weight training experience will need more time for muscle recovery between sets. The other variable when considering rest interval is goal of training. When training for strength or power gains, the rest interval is between 2-5 minutes. Conversely, if hypertrophy or muscular endurance is the goal, rest intervals should be between 30-90 seconds.

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About The Author

Lonnie Soloff Lonnie Soloff
Lonnie has a master's degree in physical therapy and is the head physical therapist for the Cleveland Indians.

Member Comments

  • JULIEROTACH
    Good article. It will help me expand my weight program to help my fitness. Thanks for a well-written article. - 2/3/2014 9:40:21 AM
  • Thanks for the info. I don't exercise anymore with weights. I have to start back. - 10/1/2013 12:13:52 PM
  • Good article, it confirmed some thing for ordinary people who are now adding strength training to exercise routine. Example whether to lift heavy or light weights, when to rest and for how long, the order of the exercise. So newbies could benefit from article. - 10/6/2012 2:30:55 PM
  • I think this is good material in one sense, HOWEVER, I agree w/ a previous poster, "How is an untrained person supposed to apply / use this information???"

    This is NOT helpful because I don't have the training of progression, nor the knowledge of "do this to build this." -- Not sure what is the purpose of this article! - 9/7/2012 7:33:58 PM
  • VAINVT
    This article was very informative. Although I do weight training three times a week, I did not realize it benefits your heart, tendons, and ligaments. As an older person, this is very important to me because I want to do everything possible to avoid injury.
    The information about core and assistance exercise was also new to me. Part of my weight training is Les Mills' Body Pump, where the sequence is Squats, Chest, Back/Glutes & Hams, Triceps, Biceps, Lunges, Shoulders, Abs. After reading Mr. Soloff's article, I have more understanding about this sequence. Thank You! - 7/3/2012 7:33:54 AM
  • How is a normal person supposed to go about this process? Even pr - 1/2/2012 2:20:32 PM
  • This was a very good article. I really appreciate when there is solid useful information, not just fluff, in an article so I'd like to see more from this author. A related series of articles would be a great idea. He is obviously well qualified and will rank at the top of my list of favorite Spark authors, along with Dean Anderson and Becky Hand. - 7/10/2011 1:08:07 PM
  • This article convinces me that having a personal trainer is pretty important. Kind of scares me away from any "do-it-yourself" training plans. - 2/1/2011 1:17:44 PM
  • DAGGERKIND
    I keep looking for information on setting a balanced workout. I am not seeing a definitive balanced workout. - 12/17/2010 11:32:29 PM
  • I was hoping for a link or a list of an idea example workout for a non-athletic office worker trying to stay in reasonable shape. - 9/28/2010 11:33:50 AM
  • This article would've been better if it actually had some depth to it. It just seems to reiterate the same common knowledge that's been touted for decades - nothing new; no original ideas. - 9/28/2010 9:44:30 AM
  • Great article... I just started workouts with a kettlebell and love it. I am really out of shape physically, and have a 10 lb. bell. I am used to working out but illness took me away from it. I am back exercising and I do so with extreme caution knowing the condition my body is in. I am gradually adding exercises to my regimine and I listen to my body. - 9/28/2010 6:55:18 AM
  • DIVANANA
    Articule very helpful! If you have not excerise with wgts this a good pointer. - 9/15/2010 4:51:36 PM
  • Thanks for the tips. I workout at home and this article was helpful! - 3/25/2010 11:29:45 AM
  • I have been doing strength training thru out my life time and I learned very valuable points today on the website! I usually will alternate every other day of resistance training and then the other day cardiovascular. However, I find that circuit trainingh helps me burn more fat and I need to get rid of body fat! So I am kind of torn between weather or not to do the strength training every other day because when you mix it with cardio, you get a blast of a workout! Stay motivated and keep exercising! - 3/25/2010 10:25:08 AM
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