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In order to establish a solid weight training routine you'll need to strategically choose your exercises and equipment. However, you shouldn't do this until you've carefully established your weight training goals. In order to reap the full benefits of weight training, all your major muscle groups need to be taxed. There are many muscle groups in the body but to keep it simple I'll refer to 7 of them as major muscle groups: chest, back, deltoids/shoulders, triceps, biceps, lower body/legs, and abdominals. So at the very least, you’ll need to include at least 7 different exercises into your weight training plan. But it doesn’t stop there. Since some muscle groups are larger than others (i.e. chest, back, and lower body/legs), you’ll need to perform at least 1 to 4 additional exercises for significant gains to occur. In light of these facts, a good weight training plan should include at least 8 to 12 different exercises.
Now, this is where it starts to get a little tricky for many, as there is a ton of weight training equipment on the market that you can choose from. Furthermore, the availability of equipment at large health clubs and gyms can make the task of choosing exercises seem next to impossible. It’s important to understand that you’ll experience significant benefits with weight training regardless of the types of equipment you select, so long as all your major muscles groups are targeted. The choice really comes down to your access, personal preferences, and lifestyle.
Free weights (barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells) are the most common types of weight training equipment. Other forms include machines, rubber tubing, water resistance equipment, and body weight (i.e. gravity). You’ll likely see the use of free weights and machines in health clubs and gyms, while other types like rubber tubing, water resistance equipment, and gravity are most commonly employed during group exercise formats like boot camp and aquatics classes or in physical therapy settings.
If you are new to weight training, machines are a godsend because they guide your body through the desired range of motion and don’t require much coordination. Machines are also great for isolating muscle groups. Free weights are versatile and inexpensive when compared to machines. In addition, they build better balance, coordination, and muscle size. The other types of weight that I’ve mentioned are great because they are highly adaptable in a variety of settings.
Again, you’ll experience significant benefits with weight training regardless of the types of equipment you select. Just be sure that you are choosing exercises that target all your major muscle groups (click here for a menu of exercises divided by the major muscle groups of the body). With that said if you are not at all familiar with weight training equipment and you have a health club or gym membership, put the staff to work. As a member of any club or gym, you are entitled to a “no obligation” equipment orientation free of charge. You DO NOT have to purchase a personal training package to take advantage of this service so make an appointment today and get started. If you do not have a health club or gym membership, you might find it especially beneficial to join a local ‘boot camp’ class to get started. If you are still unclear about choosing the right types of weight training exercises and/or equipment you should consult with a qualified health or fitness professional. Otherwise you're ready to start planning out your loads, repetitions and sets (click here to find out how).
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.
Before starting an exercise training program you should first make sure that exercise is safe for you. If you are under the age of 55 years and generally in good health, it is probably safe for you to exercise. However, if you are over 55 years of age and/or have any health problems, be sure to consult with your physician before starting an exercise training program.
Written by Nina Cherie Franklin