This program isn’t just for the true beginner who has never touched a weight before; it’s also suitable for anyone who has taken an extended leave of absence from training. How long has it been since you went to the gym regularly? Six months? A year? Five years? No worries: The following routines will get you back on track in—you guessed it—just four short weeks. Let’s get to work.
JDB, great tip on cardio before weights. Having trained in a boxing gym for years, this is exactly how I would start each training session, even if I was going to focus on weights that day. Use to start off, 3-4 rounds on jump rope in the ring, alternating between fast high knees and then slowing it down. It was all continuous for about 10-12 minutes. Would then continue w basic calisthenics (mountain climbers, bw squats, burpees, etc.) for another 3-4 rounds. This was all done w boxing timer running in background. Would finish “warm-up” w some kind of pull-up/chin-up, dips, and hanging abdominal work. Then it was time for weights. This just overall improved my general conditioning/movement and never felt that my strength diminished when doing this. Actually, felt stronger due to increased blood flow.
Training intensity (average weight lifted per day, week, etc.) and relative intensity (percent of your one-rep max) are more critical to making gains in strength and power, especially among experienced trainers.[8-10] Using heavier weights and not consistently training to failure provides adequate stimulus, especially with regard to strength development.
Any good training regimen needs to include variables that can be toggled to alter training for specific purposes. A weight lifter, for example, would take into consideration their specific exercise techniques, pounds lifted, sets per lift, reps per set, tempo per rep, rest between reps, rest between sets, emphasis between concentric, eccentric, and/or static contractions, number of sets, set order, supersetting, and so on, ad nauseum.
Multiply your body-weight in pounds by 10 to get the minimum number of calories you need each day, advises champion female bodybuilder Jamie Eason. You then need to add 300 to this if you have a sedentary lifestyle, 500 if you're moderately active or 800 if you're highly active. Aim to get your calories from nutrient-dense foods such as lean meat and fish, low-fat dairy products, beans, fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, nuts and seeds. You may need to play around with your calorie intake slightly until you find the perfect balance.
Perform three weight-training sessions per week, hitting your whole body each time. Base your routine on compound exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. These burn the most calories, hit more muscles and give the best bang for your buck, claims Rachel Cosgrove, strength coach and co-founder of Results Fitness in California. If you're not sure of any exercise techniques, ask a trainer at your gym for assistance.