The first type of training is used by the group who just wants to firm up and lose body fat. This can be accomplished by adding some muscle and losing bodyfat in order to tighten up. A good long term goal to aim for is to lose enough body fat so that you can reach a 13-16% body fat range if you are a woman and between 8-10% if you are a guy. This sort of training can be referred to as body sculpting training.
The second type of training is bodybuilding training. For bodybuilders, the main goal is to add pounds after pounds of muscle mass while taking their body fat levels to a neighborhood of 8-10% and in some instances, like a bodybuilding contest, even less, going as far as 3-4% body fat.
Before we discuss how each training should be performed, I'll first talk about the characteristics of good bodybuilding weight training routines.
Characteristics of a Good Bodybuilding Weight Training Routines
- It must be short (between 45 to 75 minutes maximum; 60 minutes being best). After 75 minutes, the levels of muscle building and fat burning hormones that your body produces (such as testosterone) begin to drop. What this means is that training more than 75 minutes will prevent you from gaining muscle and losing fat fast! It will also prevent you from fast recovery. As crazy as it sounds, more is not necessarily better for huge bodybuilding gains.
- The rest in between sets should be kept to a minimum (90 seconds or less). Keeping your rest in between sets and exercises down not only helps you to perform a lot of work and still finish within the 75 minutes, but it also helps improve your cardiovascular system. In addition, it has also been shown that this kind of training stimulates growth hormones output the most.
- Generally, depending on the goal, the sets should be between 8 - 15 repetitions for muscle mass gains and 15-25 repetitions for body sculpting purposes. There are many reasons for this:
- You get the best pump (blood flowing into your muscle cells) in these repetition ranges. This is important since along with the blood come nutrients that nourish the muscle cells and help them recover and rebuild bigger faster.
- Since you are doing so many repetitions, there is less probability of injury since you'll be using a weight that you can control.
- Again, studies show that muscle building and fat burning occur more efficiently at these repetition ranges.
(Note: For bodybuilding training, however, I also recommend periods of 5-8 repetitions as well. This is of crucial necessity for a bodybuilder as an increase of strength is required in order for continued muscle growth to occur.)
- Training must be varied and cycled. Please, don't get stuck with the same routine day in and day out. If you are a bodybuilder, and you do this, this guarantees zero muscle growth. This is without even mentioning boredom and lack of enthusiasm. For bodybuilding cycle periods (3-4 weeks) of high volume (8-15 reps/set) with periods of higher intensity (5-8 reps/set).
In order to accomplish this, the exercise strategy is to perform 20-40 minutes of aerobic exercise 3-4 times per week first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Also conduct 3-4 weight training sessions of 30 to 60 minutes per week utilizing basic exercises such as bench press, chin-ups, and squats.
- If you are an absolute beginner, please read my article on Getting Started for a suitable beginner's routine.
- If you have been training for at least 3 months but less than 6, then please take a look at my suggested Intermediate Routine.
- If you have been training hard for 6 months or more, then please take a look at my suggested Advanced Body Sculpting Routine.