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Weight Lifting Workouts

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Weight Lifting Workout Guide

Here’s my basic guide to an effective weight lifting workout.

Give Yourself a Cardio Warmup First.

The idea of this pre-workout warmup is threefold: to get physically warm, to get your heart rate up and to loosen joints and tendons. You don’t necessarily need to stretch extensively before your weight lifting workouts (and hardcore strength or power athletes may not want to, as stretching can decrease the elasticity of your muscles and actually mean you lift less), but you should definitely perform a light cardio warmup. 5-10 minutes on the stationary bike or rowing machine is more than enough – just do enough to work up a bit of a sweat and get the blood flowing.

Warm up Specifically for Each Exercise

…and do it thoroughly. To me, this means a couple of light, high rep sets just to get your specific muscles and joints warm and loose, and then some heavier “acclimation” sets of maybe 80-90% of your working weight, for perhaps 1-2 reps each. The acclimation sets serve the purpose of conditioning your muscle fibres and nervous system for the lifting that you’re about to do – they “get you used to” the heavy weight that you’re about to lift. Very effective.

Do Compounds First

Do the big, taxing multijoint exercises first. They are the ones that give you the most benefit and are also the hardest to do. Do squats before leg extensions, shoulder presses before raises, bench press before flyes… you get the picture.

Aim for Workouts no longer than One Hour

The longer you stay in the gym, the more cortisol (the stress hormone!) builds up and the less anabolic your physiology becomes. Long, 2-3 hour weight lifting workouts can be very counter-productive. Short, sharp workouts are the way to go – some routines such as Max-OT even have you in the gym for as little as 30-40 minutes per session, which is ideal. This might sound difficult but if your routine is mainly comprised of basic compounds, it becomes very doable.

Also, drink a protein shake immediately after for maximum benefit and to start rebuilding muscle fibres as soon as you leave the gym.

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