The Fit 5: Building a Weight Training Routine

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For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen.

This week, Sean Hyson C.S.C.S., Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men’s Fitness magazines, answers questions about how to build the best workout routine for your specific fitness goals.

Be sure to read up on all of Sean’s articles here on or in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines each month. You can also catch Sean on Twitter.

1) Program Building First Steps— asked by Jonathan Rogers:

What’s the first step in building a workout program?

“Deciding what you want to accomplish. Your ultimate goal will dictate what you’re going to do to accomplish it. If you want to lose fat, you may decide to go the circuit training route and keep rest periods between sets very short. If your goal is muscle gain, you’ll probably want to choose a few compound movements you can load heavy weights on. Identify a clear goal, and then pick the exercises, sets, reps, and training schedule that best addresses it. ”

2) Switching Routines — asked by Andrew Hackings: 

Is there an ideal time I should keep up with a specific plan before switching it?

“Give any program at least four to six weeks. You may need even longer if you’re building up your conditioning slowly. It’s better to be on a lousy program a long time than to leave a good one too soon—at least then you’ll learn what doesn’t work for you and can rule it out for the future.”

3) Cutting Weight Programs — asked by Howard Isaac:

If I’m trying to cut down my weight, how much of my plan should be circuits or cardio?

“You don’t have to use circuits—that’s just one approach. I lost 35 pounds mainly through diet and heavy lifting. You will need some cardio, although probably not as much as you think. Start with two or three days and add length to those sessions or additional sessions gradually. The most important thing is diet—you need to reduce your calories and carbs in order to lose fat.”

4) Maintaining Weight — asked by Carson Paveli:

To maintain my weight, when should I do steady state cardio? How about intervals or circuits?

“Steady state cardio is best in the morning on an empty stomach. Intervals can be done any time but also preferably in the morning.”

5) Most Important Element — asked by Justin Pagano:

What’s the most important element of a strength program?

“Progression. To get really strong, you need to know when to go heavy and when to back off to allow continued progress. You can alternate heavy and light workouts, or gradually build up your weights while cutting the volume of sets and reps. Heavy training is stressful and requires time for recuperation, so make sure you lighten your loads every four to six weeks, and take an occasional week off.”


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