Choosing a Training Routine
Training routines are the foundation of your fitness program. They are the sequence of exercises you use to strengthen your body, improve your endurance and build muscle. A well-rounded fitness program includes aerobic training, strength training, balance and flexibility exercises. It should also include a proper warm-up and cool-down.
When choosing a routine, consider your goals and ability level. Beginners may prefer a simple, single-exercise-per-muscle-group routine characterized by low volume (six to 12 reps per exercise) of moderate intensity. Experts agree that this workout is sufficient to help beginners achieve physical changes such as increased range of motion, strength and endurance.
As you progress in your workouts, you’ll need to increase the number of exercises and sets to continue making changes to your muscles. Ideally, you should train each major muscle group at least two times per week and perform three to four sets of each exercise. Whether you are training for strength or muscular hypertrophy, your goal should be to challenge the muscle enough to cause change by getting close to — or even passing — “momentary failure,” or the point at which the muscles can no longer perform one more repetition with good form.
The next step up in frequency is a split routine that targets each muscle group twice per week. This can be as simple as a two-day upper body/lower body split, in which you train chest and back one day, and shoulders and arms the next; or it can be more complex, such as a push/pull/legs split that alternates pushing movements with pulling movements for each muscle group.
Another option is the four-day full-body split, in which each muscle group is trained four days a week. This is a good choice for intermediate lifters, since it provides ample recovery time. If you train this way, it is recommended that you take a day off between each workout, and also schedule restorative activities for the remaining days of your off weeks.
A more advanced split is the five-day train/four-day rest. In this routine, you train each muscle group twice a week, with a full day of recovery between each session. In addition to allowing adequate recovery time between sessions, this training style offers a greater variety of workouts, since you are training each muscle group more frequently. In order to maximize results, it is recommended that you pair muscle groups that are targeted with opposing movements — such as chest and triceps or back and biceps — to ensure each muscle group gets worked hard every other time. This will make it easier to increase the intensity of your workouts. In a study, researchers found that people who performed this type of split experienced greater gains than those who did a two-day upper/lower body split. This is thought to be due to the fact that lifting heavier weights is more challenging and therefore results in a greater degree of muscle change. This is known as the law of specific adaptation. Träningsrutin