This 12 week routine is for those interested in making improvements in muscle strength and tone.
This is Phase 1 (1st 12 weeks) and is appropriate for those who have little or no weightlifting experience. Those who have a year or more experience in weightlifting may want to start with Phase 2 of the General Fitness program. If you choose to start with Phase 1, continue until you’ve completed the twelfth week and then start Phase 2 (2nd 12 weeks) of the General Fitness program, and so on.
This program is based on a 3 day/week schedule. We recommend having at least one day of rest between workout 1 and workout 2 each week. This is not absolutely necessary since workout 1 and workout 2 train different muscle groups, but it is a good idea never the less.
This program uses the split-training method. In split-training, all your major muscle groups are divided into two different training sessions. For example, workout 1 includes training your chest, shoulders, trapezius, triceps and abdominals. Workout 2 trains your legs, back, biceps, forearms 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.
Each workout will place more emphasis on some muscle groups and less emphasis on others. By “more emphasis,” we mean there will be either more exercises per muscle group and/or more sets per exercise, with less reps (requiring the use of heavier weights).
For example, workout 1 places more emphasis on your chest and triceps and workout 3 (the second time you train chest, shoulders, trapezius, triceps and abdominals) places more emphasis on your shoulders and trapezius. The muscle groups that are emphasized are being trained for the purpose of increasing strength (heavier weight, less reps). The muscle groups that are not being emphasized are being trained for muscle tone (higher reps, less weight).
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 the 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 reps, then perhaps 35 pounds would be most appropriate for a set of 10 reps. We left the Weight column 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.
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.