Developing a weight training program

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Updated: 1/14/2003 1:33 pm Published: 1/14/2003 1:33 pm

In order to develop a successful weight-training program, you need to understand the three principles that are basic to success: intensity, duration, and frequency. Generally speaking, the more intense and frequent the program, the greater the benefits. However, it's important to pace yourself so you avoid injury and don't lose interest and burn out. Strength training has many benefits, including increasing lean muscle tissue; improving strength, balance, and flexibility; and improving overall muscle tone. You'll need to decide whether to use exercise machines, which strengthen and shape muscles with variable resistance, or by using free weights. Whether training on machines develops strength faster than working with free weights has yet to be established. Both can produce positive results, but if you're beginning a weight-training program, machines are usually easier and safer to use than free weights. Proper form when you use the weights or equipment is of paramount importance with strength training, so before beginning a weight training program, you may want to consult with a qualified exercise physiologist who can design a program tailored to your individual needs. In general, eight to ten strength training exercises focusing on the major muscle groups of the body, performed two to three times a week, is a standard recommendation of most fitness institutions. One-to-three sets of eight-to-15 repetitions should provide the benefits you're looking for, without taking too much time out of your busy life. Be sure to rest sufficiently between workouts. It's also important to start any workout with a five-minute workout and have a cool-down period afterwards, as well.

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