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Fraser " Jackie Wright: Muscular Strength Training 101

Jackie Wright " The Fitness Trail

Muscular strength training should be an integral part of all fitness programs for healthy adults. However, prior to performing muscular strength exercises, check with your physician first to clear you for this type of exercise and, keep in mind the following training tips to ensure a safe and effective experience.

1) Perform one to three sets of 8-12 repetitions with approximately 30 seconds active recovery between sets, of 8-10 muscular strength exercises, for all major muscle groups, two to three times per week.

2) If you are using free weights, choose a weight increment which will fatigue the muscle within 8-12 repetitions. Once you are able to complete 12 repetitions at the chosen level of resistance, without breaking your form/technique, you may increase the amount of the weight by 2 to 5 percent.

3) You should consider changing the frequency, intensity, time or type of exercise for each major muscle group at least every six to eight weeks, which is known as periodization. This will help to prevent boredom, overuse injuries and will continually help to challenge your muscular strength.

4) Work opposing muscle groups (i.e. back then chest, triceps then biceps, hamstrings then quadriceps, etc.). Make certain to allow for 24-48 hours of rest between workouts for each muscle group.

5) Remember when working with free weights to always remain in control of the weight. Avoid letting the weight pull you, thinking of slow, controlled movements (i.e. two slow counts during muscle contraction; two slow counts during muscle resistance as you return to your beginning position). Keep your abdominals and core muscles engaged throughout by driving your navel toward your spine regardless of your position. Breathe rhythmically throughout the exercise.

Applying the above training tips, try the following exercise for the lower body that should be included in all muscular strength training programs for healthy adults:

Squats (targets the quadriceps, gluteus maximus and the hamstrings; stabilizers include the abductors/adductors and the abdominal and core muscles):

– Place the feet more than shoulder-width apart, with the toes and knees facing forward, all of the body weight resting in the heels and none on the front third of your feet.

– Relax your shoulders and engage your core by pulling your navel toward your spine. Hinge from the hip joint as though you were attempting to plant your tail bone on the wall behind you, lowering the body as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Avoid flexing from the waistline or dropping the chest by keeping the spine lengthened.

– Go no lower than 90 degrees of knee flexion (i.e. no lower than your hamstrings parallel to the floor).

– Then, engage your glutes by pulling your buttocks together and drive your body upward to an upright standing position, keeping your pelvis neutral and the knees soft. Two slow counts down and up, one to three sets of 8-12 repetitions, two to three times per week. Exhale as you press upward and inhale on the downward phase.

– Add free weights, such as barbells or dumbbells, once you are able to perform this exercise easily.

Look for more muscular strength training exercises next week.

” You can contact Jackie at her email address: gllacs@comcast.net.


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