Why do you need to know all of the ways to weight train?
You need to be aware of all of the ways to weight train, so you’ll find one you actually like and will do.
Most people skip this extremely important component of not just fitness but overall health.
It doesn’t need to take a lot of time, you don’t have to go to a gym, and it is just that important, so I’m very glad you’re reading this!
It helps you with weight control and helps prevent cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. A moderate amount improves your immune function. Additionally, the increased blood flow to your face is one great way to improve your skin appeal and overall youthful appearance too. Why do so few Americans weight train? Think about your answer before you read mine. Got it? O.K. Now, see if I’m right:
My educated guess is time, energy, expense, and often many just don’t “feel like it.” Am I close? Here are all the ways to weight train to make this part of fitness an easier part of your life.
First way to weight train—Calisthenics:
Lately, there’s been a lot written about calisthenic strength training. In fact, we’re finally coming close to reclaiming the word “calisthenics” from those cheesy 1980’s exercise videos. Whatever you call it, bodyweight training is hotter than ever. One significant advantage is NO equipment is needed. This exercise can be done anywhere, anytime. It’s one of the ways to weight train right at home too—in your undies if you want!
Why all the “noise” about this now? Some people say it is part of a larger trend toward minimalism in training. Others say it’s the feeling of empowerment you get. A few—like the guy you see here (below)—are impressed by the unique feats of strength associated with extreme calisthenics.
Advanced bodyweight strength training produces a uniquely impressive physique, both lean and strong.
However, this is definitely “too much” for most, including ME, so just read on.
Exceptionally wide lats (the upper and side back muscles) are a trademark of the calisthenics body. Lats are “grown” through pull-ups, muscle-ups, bar levers, and the “human flag” (being stretched out, holding onto a bar at a 90-degree angle to the bar). Once again, a bit much for me to try but this extremeness is not necessary.
The shoulders are used in all upper body calisthenics strength training and get a substantial workout from every exercise mentioned thus far.
The “V” formed by the lats gets even wider when we train handstand push-ups. I don’t know why I keep talking about crazy-hard-to-do calisthenics. Perhaps, it’s because I’m a jock who just can’t believe three calisthenic moves are just way beyond me.
Anyway, I’m just giving you all the options here. Of course, the push-up is the most well known of all chest exercises. We can all do that one, and you can start with “modified” push-ups if needed.
That chest will be quite strong if you master the one-arm push-up, which combines balance, stability, increased range of motion, and muscular overload in one exercise. I’m not going to go muscle by muscle here though.
You CAN get a good workout, and there are TONS of routines on the internet. You don’t have to do one-armed push-ups or “human flags” which if you’re still not picturing, looks like this guy in the picture above. Typical beginner routines consist of 6 squats, pull-ups, knee raises, dips, push-ups and abdominal crunches.
The most common ways to weight train are with free weights or machines:
For many people, dumbbells and barbells provide a great workout. Free weights, together with a bench and a rack, offer a great variety of exercises. But as with machines, free weights have advantages and disadvantages.
Can be used at home or a gym.
Sport specific movements can be trained with free weights.
You can increase strength through a full range of motion.
Free weights require more coordination and control than machine weights which guide you through a fixed range of motion.
You can strengthen large muscle groups at once, saving time and increasing heart rate for some cardio while you’re “at it.”
Best to always have a spotter.
Knowledge of proper form during the lift is crucial to prevent injuries.
Many machines use a stack of weight as a means of resistance. The resistance from the weight stack can be controlled by one specific movement with the use of cams, cables, gears and pulleys. Other machines may require giant springs or rubber bands to provide resistance and may be less capable of gradual increases in resistance. Some large multi-station weight machines allow a variety of exercises for a full body workout. These multi-station machines are ideal for a home gym.
Focuses on one muscle group at a time.
If the machine is properly adjusted, it can provide proper form through the lift.
Goes through a guided and specific range of motion, which is perfect for beginners.
Must have a membership to a gym or expensive multi-station home gym.
Focuses on one muscle group at a time; not ideal for sports and daily living activities which use various muscle groups simultaneously.
When increasing weight, you must add a whole or half plate which may be too large of an increase for de-conditioned or some older individuals.
Getting a workout with Yoga:
Yoga is correctly classified as a meditative activity and less of a fitness activity. It is more of a fitness routine “augmentation” rather than a genuine muscle strengthening activity. My sincere apologies to yoga lovers. It’s great, but it’s just not enough! There are more than 100 different forms of yoga. Some are fast-paced and intense. Most are gentle and relaxing. “Power yoga” is the one exception.
Examples of different yoga forms include:
Power. A faster, higher-intensity practice that builds muscle; a lot of strength-requiring calisthenic movements.
Ashtanga. A series of poses, combined with a special breathing technique.
Bikram. Also known as “hot yoga,” it’s a series of 26 challenging poses performed in a room heated to a high temperature.
Lyengar. A type of yoga that uses props like blocks, straps, and chairs to help you move your body into the proper alignment.
Hatha. The form most often associated with yoga, it combines a series of basic movements with breathing.
Vinyasa. A series of poses that flow smoothly into one another.
Some “faddish” workout modalities:
Before you get mad at me if you love kettlebells, the word fad means it’s “in” right now. If you love it, that’s great because it’s working for you. Kettlebells work muscular strength and endurance in a dynamic fashion. This fitness tool is portable, which makes it easy to take with you for workouts away from the gym. By the way, this is “what is said” about kettlebells, but do any of you use them at home? I’m just wondering.
The kettlebell swing, a basic foundational kettlebell exercise, involves recruitment of muscles in the entire body to perform the movement correctly. This exercise requires the legs and hips to propel the kettlebell upward, controlling it with the arms and abdominal muscles. The entire body must work in unison while building strength and endurance in various muscle groups.
You can do a whole variety of exercises with medicine balls. Squats, lunges, and overhead throws are some exercises that can be performed with a medicine ball. Upper body exercises such as push-ups with one arm on the medicine ball and one arm on the floor are quite effective for strength and stability.
Moving quickly from one exercise to the next means your mind doesn’t have time to wander or tune out. That means circuit training classes are good for those who want to be social and not get bored. An all-strength-moves circuit burns 30 percent more calories than a typical weight workout and offers more cardio benefits.
How It Works
A circuit is a series of strength exercises done once with 30-60 seconds of cardio such as running in place between each exercise. It can also be simply going from one strength set to the next for a total of one, two or three sets per exercise with little or no rest between sets.
You’ll need a watch with a second hand, the cardio equipment of your choice, plus a set of 3 to 5-pound dumbbells if you’re doing it alone. To me this sounds very painful unless you are in the gym, using a series of machines and have a “game plan” as in my “how to get a great body in less than an hour a week workout.” I just digressed there, thinking of how much better of a workout you could get with my personal regime—sorry. Now, back to the circuit training you’re used to seeing.
Of course, a membership to a gym that has circuit training classes is the only way to get a good circuit unless you do my personal workout. Don’t look at “my workout” now; wait until you’re done with this article first.
Here’s my two cents: I am all for any exercise you will do. However, when I hear from my AWS clients the biggest impediments to training which are time (meaning your schedule, not actual time), money, convenience, or “too tired to go,” I have to say a special nyet to these classes. That holds true unless it’s something you love in which case, never mind.
You get considerably less out of a strengthening routine if you alternate strength moves with cardio. If you want to build metabolically active lean body mass, you’re better off focusing on muscles and then getting your cardio in at another time.
Finally, something I think that’s easy in all ways:
Resistance Bands and Tubes
Resistance bands and tubes provide various strength opportunities for the upper and lower body with freedom to move in several directions during exercises. You can perform seated rows, biceps curls, and military presses to name a few easy exercises. I’ll tell you how to make this whole concept quick, easy, convenient and painless. If you’ve never tried resistance bands, or you’re new to them, you may be surprised at how much benefit you can get from what is essentially a reinforced rubber band. It’s amazing that often, the simplest tools are the very best for your health.
The Benefits of Adding Resistance Bands to Your Workouts:
Resistance bands can be used for a comprehensive, full-body workout that challenges virtually every major muscle group in your body.
Adaptable for Multiple Fitness Levels:
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, resistance bands are great. They come in a variety of resistances, including light, medium and heavy. You can also further adjust the intensity of your resistance band workouts by giving the band more or less slack. You can even use multiple bands at once. Note tubular bands are more user-friendly than flat bands.
They are considerably cheaper than anything on this list other than calisthenics!
Used with Familiar Exercises:
You can often use familiar strength training moves with resistance bands, which means you don’t need to learn a complicated new routine. For instance, resistance bands can replace the weights you use for biceps curls.
Easy to Use Alone:
It’s not a good idea to lift heavy weights without a spotter, but resistance bands can be safely used on your own.
Your muscles quickly adapt to movements you do often, which is why adding variety to your workouts is key for challenging your muscles. Resistance bands can be alternated with free weights and exercise machines for ongoing variety. Accordingly, just vary the angles you are using with the bands—that’s what I do.
An Effective Weight Training Routine
Resistance bands are incredibly simple, but they’re also extremely effective at working your muscles. Also, resistance-band training can help you boost flexibility too!
One last word about my favorite, easy at-home workout. I use the product we carry called Gym-in-a-bag. It is the single most effective way I find to keep everyone working out. Why? Because it’s more than “just bands.” It has an easy to use bar, and you can do a variety of “moves.” You can do a total body workout in literally 15 minutes 2-3x per week.
Most people can squeeze in this workout. I used to be quite the “gym rat,” but due to time and distance from a gym I now use this quite often and haven’t lost a bit of muscle mass. Wow, do I save time! Precious, precious time. Also, no matter how much I “don’t feel like it,” I think “hey, it’s ONLY 15 minutes.” After all, when I’m done, it’s a great “pump.”
What about supplements for your weight training program?
If you go to information A-Z, you will see a section on bodybuilding. You can see that I have a lot of information for bodybuilders, including specific information on each bodybuilding supplement. If you’d like an overview on supplementation for muscle growth, then check out this weight lifting supplements guide. You can get our special lean muscle builder kit at a 15% discount, and no matter what stage of weight training you are in, you can get this FREE guide: