Strength Training Routine

Starting a weight lifting routine for strength training training can be very confusing. When you go searching the internet for workout programs you will have no trouble finding plenty of them but deciding which one to go with can be quite a challenge. The problem is the abundance of experts online all claiming that they have the best training program and showing their amazing before and after pictures. Although most of the programs you find for strength training will probably produce results there are some key things you need to look for when selecting a weight lifting routine.

All strength training programs worth anything should contain the big compound lifts. I'm not going to preach on the science of these lifts as there are plenty of people who have already done that and in the end, who really cares how it works as long as it does. So be sure any strength training program you pick is based on Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Press, and Overhead press. These exercises are absolutely critical in building quality strength and muscle mass. Matter of fact some of the most successful strength athletes and powerlifters focus exclusively on these lifts and don't waste their time with anything else. That being said, I do find value in additional supplement exercises for a couple of reasons.

  1. Adding additional exercises allows you to spend more time in the gym. If you don't like spending an hour or two in the gym and prefer the quick 30 minute in and out workout then feel free to stick with the major compound movements and drop the rest. Jim Wendler calls this the "I'm Not Doing Jack Shit" in his popular 5/3/1 program.
  2. Supplemental exercises allow you to be more aesthetically pleasing. This is why we do it anyways right? Being able to bench a couple hundred pounds is great and all but it is always nice to have big biceps and horseshoe triceps when not in the gym.
  3. They are fun. We probably all love to bench press but doing stuff like cable crossovers, preacher curls, and all those machines littering the floor allow for a nice change of pace and some new muscle simulation. Just don't go nuts and start squatting on one of those rubber ball things.

So if you buy into adding additional exercises the question become how to add them into your strength training program without losing the focus of getting stronger. It's not really too difficult. All you really have to do is remember to keep your priorities straight and do your big lifts first. Then if you are one of those people who want to get in and out feel free to skip the rest.

Here is an example.

Monday:

We want to start off the week with our number one priority just in case we don't make it back the rest of the week. It is also important to work our body in order of largest muscle groups to smallest. I think the king of all lifts is the deadlift (I Lift Things Up and Put Them Down). After hitting our big lift we should go ahead and finish out the back by working on both thicknesses (Rowing) and width (Pulling). So a nice Monday back strength training session would be something like this.

  • Deadlift 3 sets of 5 - Strength
  • Bent Over Rows (or T-Bar) 3 sets of 8 - Strength and Size
  • Lat Pull-Downs (or Chin-Ups if you can) 3 sets of 8 - Strength and Size
  • Lat Pull-Over - 3 sets of 10 - Assistance Exercise

Wednesday:

Again we want to start with our biggest lift that gives us the most overall body involvement and the most strength and size gains for our strength training routine. Some might have balked at the deadlift (I'm right), but nobody will deny the Squat. Don't be captain upper body and try and weasel your way out of leg work.

  • Squats 5 sets of 5 (You can do 3x5 if you are already at 1.5 times your body weight on squats, just keep adding weight) - Strength
  • Leg Presses 3 sets of 8 - Strength and Size
  • Lunges 3 sets of 8 - Strength and Size
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts (or Leg Curls)– 3 sets of 10 - Assistance Exercise
  • Calve Raises (or Seated)– 3 sets of 10 - Assistance Exercise

Friday:

Time to finish off the week strong. I know a lot of you really wanted to hit your chest and arms on Monday but remember the goals here. You want to get as strong as possible and work your body from large muscles to small muscles in your strength training. Also here is another advantage you might not have considered. Working your chest and arms on Friday means you go into the weekend pumped up which is always nice especially for you single guys picking up chicks.

  • Bench Press (finally) 5 sets of 5 - Strength
  • Incline Press 3 sets of 8 - Strength and Size
  • Dips 3 sets of 10 - Assistance Exercise
  • Pec Deck (or cable crossovers) 3 sets of 10 - Assistance Exercise

The Other Days

On the off days I recommend doing some cardio or playing a sport. In strength training you tend to get tight and lose flexibility if you neglect endurance or flexibility training in your routine. It is also completely fine to just take the day off if you are maintaining a low percentage of body fat and are feeling too sore to do anything. I typically run a couple of miles or play racquetball on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then just relax on the weekends.

So as you can see my strength training routines are pretty straight forward but they do work if you stick with it. You might also want to check out the 5/3/1 program if you need detailed explanations of the exercises or the strength training philosophy.

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