Program Explanation for General Fitness - Phase 7 - 4 Days a Week
This 12 week routine is for those interested in making improvements in muscle strength and tone.
This is Phase 7 (7th 12 weeks) and is appropriate for those who have a year of more of weightlifting experience. Those who have little or no experience in weightlifting may want to start with either Phase 1 or Phase 2 of the General Fitness program.
This program is based on a 4 day/week schedule. We recommend having at least one day of rest between each workout, each week. This is not absolutely necessary since each workout trains different muscle groups, but it is a good idea never the less.
This program uses the split-training method. In split-training (for Phase 7), all your major muscle groups are divided into three different training sessions (Phases 1-4 splits muscle groups into two different sessions). For example, workout 1 includes training your chest, triceps and abdominals. Workout 2 trains your legs, biceps, and forearms. And Workout 3 trains your back, shoulders, trapezius, and abdominals.
In general, there are more sets per exercise and exercises per muscle group for the larger muscle groups, such as chest or back, compared with smaller muscle groups, like trapezius or forearms. The larger muscle groups include several individual sections; these sections make up what we call a "muscle group." For example, your back is made up of upper- middle back, lats. (sides of back) and lower back--each section needs specific attention. Many of the smaller muscle groups are indirectly trained during larger muscle group exercises.
Exercises with a * in the Comments column are the least important for that specific workout--these may be omitted if you need to decrease the level of intensity or if you are "pressed" for time. For example, the Cable Flys might be marked by a * because the chest is already being trained by the Bench Press and Incline Bench Press--it is therefore less necessary.
Exercises that have a (Bb), (Db), (cable) refer to the type of equipment used for the exercise. (Bb) = Barbell, (Db) = Dumbbell, and (cable) = using pulley machine.
When trying an exercise for the first time use a weight that your think will be a little too light--a weight that will allow you to concentrate on developing good habits and using proper form. Once you are comfortable with the exercise, choose a weight that you think will challenge you for the prescribed number of repetitions. For example, if the prescribed number of reps for your first set of Tricep Pushdown is 12, choose a weight that you think will challenge you for 12 reps. For each and every set you want to be intuitive and pick an appropriate weight for the prescribed number of reps. So, if 30 lbs. was challenging for your 1st set of 12, then perhaps 35 pounds would be most appropriate for a set of 10 reps. We left the Weight collumn blank so you can record the weight you choose for each set, to document your progress for future reference.
The smaller muscle groups, such as calves and forearms, respond better to higher repetitions (between 12-20) with less weight.
Notice that for all but one abdominal exercise (cable crunches) we recommend continuing until you reach muscle-fatigue. There are several reasons for this: 1) Like forearms and calves, your abdominals also respond better to higher repetitions. 2) There is no way to increase the resistance (weight) as you become stronger. 3) It is common to find some "experts" recommending sets of 25 reps. However, 25 reps for one person may well be totally different (too difficult/easy) for another person. So it is much better to do each set to fatigue--that is, as many reps as you can do using good, slow/controlled form.
The recommended rest time between sets for the General Fitness program is 45-90 seconds. When resting between sets, you should get a drink of water, record the weight you used for that set and/or stretch the muscle group you are in the process of training.
As the weeks go on and you become more comfortable with each exercise and the principles of weightlifting, your program will gradually increase in intensity. The number of sets for most exercises will gradually increase, and the number of exercises suggested for most muscle groups will also increase. In addition, the use of less reps and heavier weight will also be included. Notice that no two workouts are the same. We continually vary the method of doing each exercise (Bb, Db, cable, machine), as well as the order the exercises are performed, and the number of sets and reps for each exercise. This is very important in preventing both boredom and the frustration of plateaus.
Eventually this program introduces several advanced training techniques that are designed to increase the intensity and produce new levels of results. Following are the advanced techniques and their symbols used in this program. These symbols will be marked in the Comments column, notifying you when to use these techniques. For a detailed explanation of each, please click on the name of the advanced technique below:
This program keeps your muscles "guessing" and shocks them into achieving new levels of results. Good luck and enjoy yourself and the results you will soon achieve.