Isn’t it interesting to see how there are so many opinions on how to lift weights?
You see some people going to the gym every day to lift weights and others only go two to three days per week. Some have workouts that include the entire body in one workout and others have “leg”, “chest”, “arm” and “back and shoulder” days for example. Why would some people do specific body parts in one day but only once or twice per week while others do the whole body three times per week?
There are many factors to consider when I design a workout for someone. What is their level of fitness? How much time do they have to devote to this? What are their goals currently? What injuries are they working around? They are numerous other factors but these are the basics.
The first consideration is a person’s level of fitness. So many times people will decide to start working out and they ask a friend who is a fitness enthusiast or follow what some celebrity or pro athlete is doing on the internet. This is not a good idea.
When you first start lifting weights, you should always start with a full body workout that is designed to work one exercise per body part for three sets of 8-12 repetitions. We are trying to teach the body to have proper form while the nerves learn to fire off more efficiently to the muscles you are trying to work and you get stronger. This leads to more toned muscles. You must keep in mind that if you are just starting out, performing three sets of 8-12 reps per body part is three sets of 8-12 reps MORE THAN you were doing last month when you were sedentary.
The body perceives a huge change in activity and this leads to the body responding to the challenge. There is absolutely no reason to perform an advanced routine of several exercises per body part since your body is already taking a huge change. You do need to change up how you exercise over the months regardless if you increase the volume.
If your goals are to add more muscle and bulk, you will need to continue to increase volume and exercises. The reason is that the body gets “lazy” and used to the workouts. A person trying to develop more aggressively with muscle and strength will need to start adding more angles, exercises, volume and/or intensity to their workouts. This is when a person starts to consider splitting up their body parts in to certain days.
Otherwise, your three times per week will turn into very long workouts. In general, when you start working out you are doing less volume but more frequency per week (full body, three sets per body part for 8-12 reps x three days per week). When you start increasing volume, you DECREASE how often you work a body part.
For example, you may have done a bench press for three sets of 10 your first month. Now, you are adding incline dumbbell bench press and a cable chest fly for three sets of 10 each. You have tripled your exercises. It will take longer to recover from that workout now, so just having one day off between is most likely too little time to recover. The increased volume will mean that you will work the chest one to two times per week. This pattern is common with all body parts for an advanced weight lifter.
The types of workouts for weight lifting could go on and on. It is important to understand some basics and seek guidance from a Professional trainer. Don’t risk hurting yourself or wasting precious time by trying to figure it out. In addition, don’t risk an injury because you did too much or performed the exercises incorrectly. You only have one body and you need to make sure you have chosen the right path for your weight lifting routine.