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#251132 - 05/05/06 02:07 AM Basic Weight Lifting Information
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North
Originally posted 1/16/2006

First things I’ll state for the record I’m no expert. Learning from the internet in no way replaces actual experts that you can work with in person. I can give you the basics but then you will need to decide what is right for you. Basics are always a good place to start and then you will find that you will try things that work and things that don’t work. As things get stagnate you will need to modify your workout but they can be as minor as more/less time between sets, more/less weight, more/less exercises, more/less reps, more/less sets, changing the order of your workout, changing lifts within your workout, or changing the type of work out completely.

When I first started lifting I wish I had met people who could have steered me straight but I didn’t so I learned a lot of things the hard way … which in a way has given me a little ability of understanding things.

I am going to go from the beginning and probably tell you stuff you already know but this may also help others as well.


I cannot stress the importance of resting. Resting is when your body actually grows. Resting allows your body to recover and rebuild so that you can become bigger and stronger. You may feel that you can go on and you are hyped to do so but at such an early stage you want to build a good workout foundation that you can carry on for life. You may be young now and may get away with things but as you get older it won’t be as easy and then you will need to break habits. It is best to start early and rest and listen to your body. If not you can overtrain which can lead to injuries, sickness, lack of enthusiasms to continue training, decrease in growth, decline in energy, decline in size, decline in strength, etc.

Here is a quote that sums some of this up:


Quoted by Bill Pearl:
Remember to rest. The benefits from your training program will be so clear and there will be such noticeable changes that you will be tempted to overtrain. If you do not rest enough, you will soon be plagued by injury. If you are injured, you can’t work out. If you can’t work out, you can’t improve. Sounds obvious by many people make the mistake of pushing too hard too fast. Do not overtrain. Listen to your body. When you are tired – rest!

It is recommended that you do not work the same muscle for at least 48 hours (2 days) and I find that some of the larger muscles such as the legs it takes longer to recover (3 to 4 days). It is also recommended that to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night depending on your metabolism and how you train. Progress = stress (actual lifting) + rest

It is also recommended to take periodic layoffs. This you may also find will help with plateaus that you run up against. How long of a layoff … 1 to 2 weeks. Your fear, as are many, that I will loose what I’ve worked so hard for. Now this is always a possibility but not as a big concern as you think. For what little you will loose during this time is easily recoverable. It is easier to regain then when starting over. Take a breath and relax … it is not so bad. And it is best to incorporate this for if you are injured you will have no choice, plus you have a life. Now when do you take a layoff? Listen to your body as this will be a good guideline. I’ve seen it recommended every 6 to 8 weeks but for myself I would suggest at least twice a year.


For the average adult 50% of their body is water weight (11 US Gallons or 42 Litres). An average adult can lose about 3 quarts (approx. 3 Litres) each day through perspiration. Now introduce weight lifting that produces heavy sweating and you will start to realize how important water is to a weight lifter and the need to replenish it … or any other person that does a physical activity. Just as a note, evaporation of sweat on the skin is the body’s cooling mechanism. You don’t cool down you overheat … and if you compare this to a vehicle that overheats then you get the idea … you breakdown and go no where.

Now when taking water it is best to take it gradually in small portions. I myself carry an insolated water bottle (32 ounces or 1 Litre) around all day at work and sip it. I will usually drink 1 to 2 of these a day plus what ever other amounts I take while working out, after working out or while training martial arts. Your body will need to adjust to the excess water you will be taking in so prepare in the beginning to go to the washroom more then usual but it will subside and you will be the better for it. Now how much water is recommended? It is suggested to drink at least 1 Gallon (3.79 Litres) per day if you’re working out hard and/or if the day is hot.

Other benefits of water are that it helps to clean the system out. Water can help with skin problems. Water can fill hunger pains that are really your body telling you that it is thirsty … you know the ones late at night when you think you need a snack and you know you shouldn’t. Water can aid in the loss of fat.

I should also point out that while working out in addition to water your body will loose electrolytes. These are ionized salts in the blood, tissue fluids and cells. If they are depleted along with water during heavy sweating certain metabolic functions, as well as neural signals can be impaired. This is why I would suggest after an intense workout (weight training or martial arts training) that you may wish to look at something like Gatoraid or Poweraid or some other sports drink. This is my opinion only.


Eating properly is also important. It has been recommended, and I follow this practice, to eat 5 to 6 meals a day. These are not big meals but smart meals. What you would normally eat “to be fit” in a day, break up into 5 to 6 smaller meals. I’ll try to explain the reasoning behind this.

Take an average person who is fit and eats 3 meals a day like the normal population. When they eat their body will use whatever it needs for energy at that time and then the rest will be stored for energy later on … in other words fat. They continue on like this but for many this little bit of fat become more of a problem especially when they get older and their metabolism slows down and they cannot burn this energy/fat as effectively so it becomes more noticeable. Now by breaking these 3 meals down into 5 or 6 meals, your body can only use what energy is given and if it needs more it will need to use the energy that it has in store … fat. This is why I would suggest for even the average person who wishes to loose a few pounds to try this instead of a diet; cut back what you eat but eat smarter.

Now weight lifters will need to increase what they eat and one of the things you will need to increase is your protein intake. Now this can be done through foods or supplements but this will have to be your choice. You may find that the time to prepare something vs. the cost to purchase something goes one way or the other; you choose for you. I would also suggest after a heavy workout that immediately within an hour period that you take some protein and here is why.

The body has a built-in survival drug hormone called “cortisol”. Immediately following a high-intensity workout the body pumps this hormone whose function is to carry off protein to the liver where it converts it to glucose, which provides energy for the body. The longer and harder the workout the more cortisol is pumped. Why is this important to replenish protein? The largest supply of protein in your body is your muscles … so this is the first place attacked by the cortisol and why it is important to replenish the protein immediately. When the protein is destroyed in the muscles this is known as a “catabolic state”. Another reason that this is important is that our immune system is based on proteins and if this is attacked by the cortisol this can weaken our defense mechanisms.

Now how much protein does one need to take? The answer is not as much as you think you do. Non active people need .36 grams per pound of bodyweight per day. For an active person such as a weight lifter it is recommended that you need 0.6136 grams per pound of body weight per day. (i.e. 200 pound athlete would required 122.72 grams of protein per day). Remember more is not better when it comes to protein intake. In fact there are studies that show that excessive protein intake over extended periods of time can possibly seriously damage your liver or kidneys.

Here are some other factors of I have come up during my search for knowledge on weight lifting. This may vary from other sources and people but is a ”guideline”. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for athletes. From 60-65% of your diet should be carbohydrates, 15-20% should be fats (yes fats … the good kind … such as Omega 3,6 and 9 which are essential) and 15-20% should be proteins.

How about calories? It is recommended that that in order to maintain ones body weight they should take their body weight in pounds and multiple it by 20. Therefore a 200 pound man would need 4000 calories to maintain his body weight. To build muscle, and thus gain weight, you need to increase your calories slightly by adding 400 to 600 more calories total. Taller, younger, heavier, and more active people generally require more calories per day then do shorter, older, lighter and less active people. Here is another guideline:

* 175 lbs or under; add 400 calories
* 176 – 200 lbs; add 500 calories
* 201 lbs or more; add 600 calories

If you are getting bigger and stronger without adding noticeable fat to your waist then you are okay. If you do notice that you are gaining extra weight here then cut back 100 calories until the fat disappears.


Yes we have finally made it here. The reason again for providing the other stuff is because it is as important if not more important then the actual lifting. I would feel that I short changed you if I did not give you some basics.

There are 7 essential muscle groups that must be worked and they are:

1. Abs
2. Legs
3. Chest
4. Back
5. Shoulders
6. Triceps
7. Biceps

Now understand that for most lifting your biceps and triceps are used as secondary muscles. Initially you may wish to include these and even after 8 years I still do. But others decide for themselves that when working out and these muscles get hit being the secondary muscles is enough. You can be functional working them all continually such as I do or cutting them out later on. Even some of the big lifters eventually eliminate them. This will depend on you and your goals. Basically it boils down to you. I would hate to tell you to stop working them if you enjoy them. Weight lifting has to be fun and it has to be tailored to you. You make that call when necessary.

It is important in any workout that you work the larger muscle groups first before the smaller. Why? If you fatigue the smaller muscle groups first then you can’t work the larger ones as adequately. For instance, if you worked out your biceps first and then went to do a back exercise that incorporates the biceps as secondary muscles, you will be cheating your back out of an intense workout and you will be limiting your growth.

There are several different types of workouts but I would suggest sticking to the basics for now and then later maybe trying something else. I’ve found that the popularity of many of the other type of workouts phase in and out so now you may hear of one or another and later somebody will say there is something new to try. Some other variations are:

* Supersets
* Trisets
* Pyramid Training
* Forced Reps
* Partial Reps
* Negative Reps
* Multi-poundage Systems
* Cheating

Again as earlier posted, I would leave these alone as most of these are for more advanced lifters and again seem to phase in and out.

I would also like to discuss training to failure. Some are against this and others are for it. I have tried both ways and both are effective. One thing I have found training to failure is that it was hard on my mind because you have to give maximum effort on every set and this can be draining. For now I would suggest not going to failure with the exception of maybe your last rep in your last set.

Before I get into the actual exercise we should discuss how long to work out. In the beginning this will not really be a factor as your body is adapting. As you become more and more proficient you will find you have to actually do “less” to achieve your results plus time will be reduced because you know what you are doing. At this point I would suggest keeping your workout between 45 minutes to 75 minutes. Obviously this may change if you plan to be an amateur/professional body builder.

And one other thing … this is a work in progress so I have been jumping back and forth through this adding stuff here and there as I remember it. Breathing … this is important. Do not hold your breath throughout your workout. This can cause the flow of oxygen to your brain and you can pass out. I know that this sounds ridiculous but I have seen, and felt, points where you become disorientated and see stars and when lifting something heavy … especially alone … that this can be dangerous. Breath both in and out though your nose and mount. Do not limit yourself to breathing only in through your nose and exhaling out your mouth as you may not get the needed oxygen through your nose. When lifting you should inhale during the beginning of the lift … you may momentarily hold your breath during the difficult part … and then exhale as you finish the lift. For an example when bench pressing you would inhale while lowering the weight to your chest, momentarily hold your breath as you press the weight up and then exhale during the latter part of the lift.

Now on with the show.

I would recommend for these workouts that you follow the 5x5 rule; 5 sets of each for 5 reps. This is considered more of a strengthening workout so if you are looking at gaining size you can up the reps from 8 to 12 … but I would stick with the 5 sets still.

1. Abs – Weighted Ab Crunches

Put a weight (that you are comfortable with) on your chest and do 3 sets of 10. Make sure hold your abs tight at all times and when you lift up hold a few seconds and then go down … but don’t release the abs. To make it harder you can increase the amount of time you hold it at the top … currently I’m doing 30 seconds. Intensity/Quality is better then quantity.

Alternative Lift – Not really anything better or as easy that can be done anywhere anytime.

2. Legs – Squats

This is best exercise there is … no question … and no better way to get bigger. It incorporates so many body parts to pull it off that it is the #1 exercise there is. By eliminating this you are limiting your growth. I wish when I started somebody would have told me this. DO SQUATS and DO NOT ELIMINATE YOUR LEGS. You may think that you don’t need to work your legs but you are “wrong”. The legs are the foundation of the body and by limiting these you limit your overall body growth.

Alternative Lift – Deadlifts

This is also a good exercise and is easier on the body but will not give you the effect of the squat. Plus it works a lot more of your back as that is the primary muscles hit.

3. Chest – Bench Press

Yes the standard bench press … no gimmicks. The standard bench press hits your chest 100% more efficiently then any other chest exercise. Why would you want anything else?

Alternative Lift – Dumbbell Flies

4. Back – Pullups

This is the most functional to use. If getting too easy then you can add weight with belts.

Alternative Lifts: Lat Pulldowns, Rows, Rear Shrugs

Lat pulldowns are one of my favorite but is not possible without a machine. Rows are also very good and can be done with many variations. The one I currently enjoy is the Bent-Over Two-Arm Long Bar Rowing. Rear Shrugs are also good for targeting your traps.

5. Shoulders – Military Press

Great exercise and best when done standing up if possible.

Alternative Lifts: Dumbbell Press, Deltoid Raises, Upright Rows

6. Triceps – Kick Backs (Extensions)

This is my favorite exercise for the triceps and really targets them. Just as a note, to get bigger arms you need to work out your triceps as much if not more then the biceps. The triceps are the foundation of the arm and the larger the triceps the larger the biceps can grow. By only working the biceps or working the biceps more you are limiting your potential. This is similar to the legs.

Alternative Lifts: Tricep Press-Downs, Dips, Tricep Curls

7. Biceps – Standing Alternated Bicep Curls

I have found this to be one of the better

Alternative Lift: Preacher Curls

Now you are looking at this and wondering what to do? Here’s the thing, there are so many different methods/programs/systems to do so you have to find one that works for you. Here are some options:

A. Full Body Work Out

Do one of each of these and do them for 2 to 3 days a week. I have found for myself that I preferred doing the legs second last and the abs very last. When I did the legs first I was so drained that I had a hard time finishing the workout. Eventually over time I build up the endurance and put legs first again but kept the abs last. I also added in calve raises, as I liked doing these.

B. Push / Pull

This is what I currently do.

Day 1 = Push = Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Day 2 = Pull = Back, Biceps
Day 3 = Legs, Abs

I do this within a week. I also do for Day 1 and Day 2 two separate exercises per body part … so 2 chest exercises, 2 shoulder exercises, etc. For Day 3 I also include calve raises.

C. Split Routines

i. You can work one muscle group a day and then start over. Just ensure you put them in the order so that you are not working the same muscles the next day. In this case you may wish to add more exercises to that muscle group so that you are working 2 – 3 exercises per body part.

ii. You can also split the routine up so that you work two muscle groups per day with a rest period the next day or not. I used to have success with the following type of split routine:

Day 1 = Chest, Abs
Day 2 = Back, Shoulders
Day 3 = Triceps, Biceps
Day 4 = Legs, Abs

Again with this you may wish to add a second exercise.

iii. You can also split the routine with upper body one day and lower body the other day.

Day 1 = Chest, Back, Shoulders, Triceps, Biceps
Day 2 = Legs, Abs

There are probably other ways of doing this but this will give you a good start. Decide on one and stick with it for a while. You can change things around to meet your needs such as different exercises, the days you have for rest periods between workouts, eliminate triceps/biceps, etc.


Just when you thought we were done. Motivation is an important factor and can decide if you will do this for a short period of time or a long time. As well it can determine if you put full effort into your work out or not. Keep yourself motivated to do this. Make it fun so that you want to do it. Do it by yourself or have a partner(s) do it with you. Listen to your favorite music. When you feel stressed or mad do it. If you are happy do it. No matter what just DO IT.

I tried from the age of 15 to 29 numerous of occasions to work out and always seemed to quit. I found something in 1997 that made me pick it up and not give up and I can’t see me quitting anytime soon even with all of my current injuries. Find that something that will make you want to pick it up so that you won’t quit it. Here is a tip that I have found invaluable … record everything. Get yourself a log book and write down each workout. Write down what exercises you did, how many reps, how many sets and how you felt. If you were tired write that down. If you were happy write that down. If you were feeling ill write that down. Write anything down that you think pertinent. Then later when you come back to this you can reflect and analyze what worked and what didn’t. You can see trends. And another thing, number each so you can have a running total of days worked out. This can give you goals to shoot for and is nice to look at. I have currently completed 1041 days of working out and going strong.

There is probably stuff I am missing that I will think of later … and if anything important I will edit this or add to it but this at least gives you something to start with. Sorry for the length of this but while writing this I got on a roll and couldn’t stop. I wanted to impart so much … and there is so much more … but then I’d be writing forever. You can use some of this or none of it; it is up to you. No matter what you decide I enjoyed writing this … it can be a passion. Then one day down the road you or others will pass on what you know to help somebody out. And so the cycle begins.

Sources: Personal experience, this forum (you know who you are), Getting Stronger by Bill Pearl, HIT Faq by Robert E. Spector and my Body Building Friend Mac.

#251133 - 05/29/06 11:26 PM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: Dereck]
DizzyDogg6803 Offline

Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 54
Great post Dereck! I haven't posted in forever but decided I would check out the forums again when i found this thread. This thread has helped me out a lot. I now got a good routine going and couldn't be happier with it.

#251134 - 05/30/06 01:26 AM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: DizzyDogg6803]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North
You probably knew most of this but for what it is worth thanks.

#251135 - 06/12/06 10:16 AM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: Dereck]
Leo_E_49 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/24/05
Posts: 4117
Loc: California
Excellent! I've been looking for something like this for ages. Very cool. Thanks a bunch!
Self Defense
(Website by Marc MacYoung, not me)

#251136 - 06/26/06 08:39 PM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: Leo_E_49]
LiLJb72 Offline

Registered: 02/20/06
Posts: 83
Hey - I read through this all the way through - Great post, took me awhile - anyways - my only question would be this....Are you a believer in switching up your workouts in each body part every 6-8 weeks (or a given time frame)...i.e. if you have been doing bench and incline bench for chest, switch to decline bench and flies every 6-8 weeks and cycle them? or Do you pretty much stick with one workout?

#251137 - 06/27/06 01:24 AM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: LiLJb72]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North

Hey - I read through this all the way through - Great post, took me awhile - anyways - my only question would be this....Are you a believer in switching up your workouts in each body part every 6-8 weeks (or a given time frame)...i.e. if you have been doing bench and incline bench for chest, switch to decline bench and flies every 6-8 weeks and cycle them? or Do you pretty much stick with one workout?

My personal belief is to stick to an exercise until I am seeing no results. I will then try to change things by adding or deleting sets or reps or just change when I do it in the workout or take less/more time between sets. If then I am still getting no results then I change that exercise out for something different. If something is working why change it just because you've set a time limit? If you are still making gains then your body hasn't adapted to the exercise as of yet.


#251138 - 07/27/06 12:39 AM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: Dereck]
Saarna Offline

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 56
Now the biggest problem I have is me telling myself "Oh well today you don't need to work out, you can do it tomorrow" and then there is a side of me saying "Work out, Work out!" and it all depends in the mood I am in. Do you have any tips to make me want to work out?
“Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eye.” -Miyamoto Musashi

#251139 - 07/27/06 01:01 AM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: Saarna]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North
The motivation has to come from you and not what anybody says. Right now you have one part of you telling you to do it and another not to do it ... you have to choose for yourself who you will listen to.

First ask yourself the reasons why you don't want to work out and write them down. Then ask yourself the reasons why you want to workout and write them down. Look at the list and decide which rings more true. Then ask yourself if there are ways to change your perception of why you don't want to work out. Is it because it is not fun? If so then find things to make it more exciting. Is it because it is hard? You had better believe it and why only a small percentage does it ... now do you want to be one of these people or like the general masses? Get yourself on a schedule and live by it. Give it an honest go for a month and then see if those reasons have changed or not.

We all get into slumps or find reasons not to work out but we find within ourselves reasons to do it. Sometimes I have to haul my butt to do it even when I feel like laying around on the couch. Some times I'm happy I worked out and other times I'm not ... but I'd be even more unhappy if I gave it up all together. It is a part of me and something I don't want to let go. I've worked this hard to get where I am and I've put in a lot of time ... these are some of the things that motivate me.

Find that "something" that will make you want to work out. I wish you the best.

#251140 - 07/27/06 11:34 AM Re: Basic Weight Lifting Information [Re: Dereck]
Saarna Offline

Registered: 07/26/06
Posts: 56
Thanks, that sounds like it would work. And when I don't work out for a day, the next day I don't want to work out even more and so on.
“Perceive that which cannot be seen with the eye.” -Miyamoto Musashi


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