By Ryan Lawson, exercise specialist at Riverview Health Rehab & Fitness
The key to a successful strength-training program lies in varying your exercises, number of sets or repetitions, and your recovery time.
The most effective way to enhance your workout is by making regular changes to your routine at consistent intervals. Changing your training can help avoid plateaus, prevent injury and lead to greater gains. A qualified exercise specialist can design a training program specifically for your goals and needs. Below are a few simple ideas you can integrate into your strength-training routine.
- List your goals and set a specific deadline—You should set long-term goals (6-12 months) as well as short-term goals (1-3 months). Fitness assessment tests can help you define and test your progress to make sure you’re heading in the right direction.
- Don’t try too much too soon—Make sure you establish a consistent workout routine. Once you’ve developed the proper foundation, you can begin to increase the number of sets, repetitions and amount of weight for continued growth.
- Vary your exercises—Experts agree you should, at a minimum, vary your program on a monthly basis. Your individual goals determine the exercises you should be doing.
- Vary your recovery time—Recovery time is crucial for improvement. The length of your recovery is goal-based. If you’re looking to improve muscular tone and endurance, your rest time should be shorter (30 seconds to one minute). If you’re looking to improve strength and power, recovery should be longer (2-3 minutes).
- Evaluate your development periodically—The best way to do this is by keeping a detailed record of your workouts. Monitoring your development every 4-8 weeks will let you see where you’re progressing as well as provide direction for your areas of improvement during the next cycle.
- Give purpose to every workout—The more structured your weight training program is, the more meaningful, stimulating and effective each session will be.