What I propose now is a program of high intensity for individuals who want to lost fat and gain muscle. Those of you serious about the matter, listen to and follow this routine because I guarantee results. It won't be fun and will oftentimes be painful but there are no tricks or fads here.
Before we begin, I know most women will shun the idea of using a training program like the one I'm about to explain. This is a mistake because women should do the same type of weight training men do. It's irrational for a woman to concern herself with the possibility of becoming as big as a man because it's not likely. Women simply do not have enough testosterone running through their bodies to ever become as big as a man can be. There are exceptions though for the extremely rare case where a woman has freakish genetics and is able to get so big, but as I say, it's extremely rare.
With that out of the way, let's hop to the program because I'm sure many of you are anxious to get started.
What we're going to do is high-intensity training. With high-intensity training, workouts must be brief, intense, and infrequent. The intensity of the workout itself is generated with rest-pause, forced reps, and emphasis on the negative part of the movement. I'll explain this in greater detail in a bit.
Many weight trainers use high-volume training and perform numerous sets with the idea etched in their minds that more is better. This simply is not true. Our bodies have a limited capacity for exercise and doing more and more exercise will tax that capacity to the point that our training will be counterproductive. The body must have adequate rest between workouts to compensate for the stress of training and it is during that rest period that your muscles grow.
Now, what does it mean to work out briefly, intensely, and infrequently? Your workouts should last no more than 30-60 minutes, there should only be one working set of an exercise and that one set must be done to failure, and you need at least one rest day after each workout. As the stresses of working out become greater, you must add more rest days to recuperate.
When you lift a weight, it is crucial you do so under complete control. Do not jerk or throw the weight, with the exception of the clean portion of the clean and press. If you don't keep the weight under full control, you risk injury. Don't be stupid in the gym. There's no shame in lifting a lighter weight until you're ready for something heavier.
The techniques necessary to generate intensity are as follows:
Rest-pause: After taking a set to failure, set the weight down and rest for 10-15 seconds but no more. Then lift the weight again and perform more reps until you reach failure again. This can be done multiple times if you have a deficiency in a muscle group, but two rest-pauses are more than enough to stimulate growth.
Forced reps: After you fail during the rest-pause segment of your set, you can have a partner or a spotter assist you with the positive movement of the rep to help you go past failure. This is easier to do on machines than it is on free-weights. When in doubt, rely on rest-pause and other intensity techniques.
Partial reps: When you're close to failure on the positive part of the movement, you may find you have a little more in you though it may not be enough to get the weight all the way up. When this happens, lift the weight as much as you can until you can no longer perform a positive movement at all. At that point, you may want someone to assist you with forced reps if it's practical.
Negatives: This simply means focusing especially on the negative portion of the movement. A lot of people think lifting weights is just lifting a weight, but this is hardly the case. Those same people are missing the most effective part of the movement: the part where you put the weight down, or the negative. Focus on performing negatives slowly, about four seconds or so. You'll be rewarded with muscles for your efforts. The most amount of damage to the muscles occurs during the negative, thus the body compensates for increased tissue damage with bigger muscles. This concept is especially important when you're performing forced reps.
For your benefit, I've prepared a simple routine for you that is to performed every other day at the beginning. This may seem like a lot, but I've prepared it this way because for individuals who have limited or no experience with weight training, those individuals are too damn inexperienced to overtrain.
Before we go into the exercises, you should invest in a pair of flat shoes if you don't have some already. Chuck Taylors are popular, but any flat soled shoe will work. I wear wrestling shoes, but I already owned them from my days as a wrestler so for me it was practical. You can do these exercises wearing tennis shoes, but I don't recommend it because tennis shoes don't offer the kind of balance you want while weight lifting.
1. Each exercise should begin with two warm-up sets. The third set, or the working set, is the set that intensity principles should be applied to.
2. Begin by performing this routine every other day. As you become stronger, you'll eventually plateau. When you're not making anymore progress, that's when you need to add another rest day between workouts. So instead of one rest day, you'll have two rest days, and so on.
3. Barbell squats and flat bench presses can be performed on a Smith Machine if desired.
And now the exercises:
1. Barbell Squats
Learn to love this exercise. It involves every leg muscle, but primarily the quadriceps. To perform it, put the bar behind your head and situate it on your shoulders. Stabilize it by gripping the bar with your hands. Use a pad or a towel or a stingray device for comfort. Make sure your feet are spaced slightly more than shoulder-width. This gives you better stability. Lower yourself to the ground until your thighs are parallel with the floor. If you can't get parallel, you're using too much weight. When you do this, it's crucial you keep your back straight and do not stick your knees out over your toes. Doing so may create all kinds of problems in your joints later on. As you're able to lift more weight, you should consider wearing a weight belt to help stabilize your lower back and knee-wraps to increase hydrostatic pressure inside your knees.
2. Barbell Flat Bench Press
This is the traditional bench press. It involves the pectorals, the front deltoids, and the triceps. Lie flat on the bench and get your head to the point where your eyes are in line with the barbell. Take the barbell and grip it so your forearms are parallel with the floor. They should be going straight up and down. Remember to wrap your thumbs around the barbell and keep a firm grip. Do not let go while in motion. Using a suicide grip is both unnecessary and dangerous. Lift the weight and hold it above your chest. Slowly lower it down and touch your chest if you're so inclined, though touching the chest is not necessary unless you want to involve more of the deltoids. Hold the weight in the contracted position for a moment and then move up. Remember to focus especially on the negative and the contraction because this will build the most muscle. When you have reached muscular failure, have your partner help you get the weight back on the rack.
Learn to love the deadlift. This is a neglected movement by many weight trainers anymore, and it's a shame because it's one of the most productive movements along with the others listed here. The deadlift involves the hamstrings, the back, the traps, the forearms, and many other muscles. It truly is the most important exercise you can do, with squats a close second. To properly perform a deadlift, the bar should be on the ground. Spread your feet a little more than shoulder width and squat down so your butt's lower than your back. Grip the bar roughly the same width as your feet (you may have to pinch your knees in slightly to do this) and use an overhand-underhand grip. This just means one hand grips the bar in an underhand fashion while the other grips in an overhand fashion, but it doesn't matter which hand does which. Once you have yourself situated, hold tightly and push with your legs and lift with your back. It's imperative that you keep your back straight as you do this or you risk serious injury. When you have the weight up, hold it a moment and squeeze your glutes and then slowly lower the weight back to the ground and reset. Use rest-pause
4. Clean and Press
This is the last of the Olympic lifts. It trains the front and side deltoids and builds body density and power. To perform it, squat down, lean forward, and take hold of the bar with an overhand grip with your hands about shoulder width apart. Drive with the legs and lift the bar to shoulder height, then tuck the elbows in and under to support the weight in the starting position of the military press. Use your shoulders and arms to press the weight up overhead and then bring it down to shoulder height and reverse the cleaning motion by bending your knees and setting the weight back on the floor. Remember, when you press the weight, do not lock out your arms when you extend. Serious injuries can result from this.
Another note: Remember, safety is my paramount concern, and it should be yours too. Always warm up with one or two sets before the working set, and always perform these exercises with proper form. Don't lock your joints out when performing these exercises or else you risk serious injury. Don't try to jerk weights around. Don't try to show off by lifting heavier than your capabilities. Use appropriate safety precautions when lifting heavier weight. Always use proper form and lift weights under complete control.
On your rest days, you should do a half hour or so of cardio. Jogging on a treadmill or outside will suffice. This is good for your cardiovascular conditioning and it burns more fat than lifting weights does. However, be sure to do cardio away from your weight training. Do it on the rest days, or if you must do it on the days you lift, do it later in the day long after you've lifted weights.