Weight Training Routines: What You Need to Know About Lifting

What’s good and what’s bad when it comes to weight training routines?

It depends on your goals, and your body. There are a few things you can use as guidelines no matter what system you’re following.

But there’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to proper weight training routines. In the end, it comes down to working hard, eating well, and resting.

Those are the three things we emphasize on this website, and if you stick around, you’ll keep hearing them over and over again, but in different variations, of course ;).

Weight Training Exercises: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The best results are gotten from exercises that hurt the most. You’ll see me mentioning them a lot here on Gain Muscle Smarts.

I’m talking about squats, deadlifts, bench press, press, and row, just to name a few.You can always throw in other exercises, but the big compound lifts should be your foundation.

If you’re just starting out building muscle, you can practically do whatever you want, because your body will be so unused to the stress you’re putting it through that it will grow effortlessly.

However, after a few months, you have to get serious and learn about what weight training routines you should be using.

Characteristics of Good Weight Training Routines

There are good weight training routines, and there are bad ones. Here are a few characteristics of great weight training routines. Every one of them has about the same fundamentals in place:

1. Short & Sweet. Your training sessions should be no longer than 60 minutes. I personally prefer under 45 minutes. The reason is because after a certain time, your body starts releasing a hormone called cortisol, which is the opposite of testosterone. Cortisol eats up muscle, and we don’t want that. Train hard, train effectively, and rest.

2. Variation. If you want consistent growth, something needs to keep changing. Our bodies are extremely good at adapting. Weight training routines should always incorporate variation. This doesn’t mean you have to change things up every week, but you should keep increasing how much weight you’re lifting regularly in the short-term. In the long-term, you should switch up the way you train, how often, how hard, and for how many repetitions.

3. Overtraining. This goes hand in hand with injury prevention. You can’t go balls to the wall 5-days a week forever. You need to give your body time to rest. If you go 110% you will fry your central nervous system, which will lead to injuries, colds, fatigue, depression, insomnia, and a host of other unpleasant symptoms. Moderation is key. You can build muscle by just going to the gym 2-3 times a week, if you do it right.

4. Pleasure. It doesn’t matter what weight training routines you’re using if you don’t like what you’re doing. If going to the gym consistently means choosing a routine that isn’t the best, but that you like, then do that. It’s all too easy to get caught up in what’s “optimal” when we should be thinking about what works and what makes your body, mind, and soul happy.

How Long Should Your Training Session Be?

You are in the gym to make progress not do work for works sake.

Many magazines showcase bodybuilders spending three hours a day in the gym. That’s pure insanity for a normal human being.

Most likely, these “monsters” are using recovery enhancing drugs (i.e. steroids), eating truckloads of food, and resting well. Any natural weight lifter would burn out in a matter of weeks.

Go in the gym, bust your ass for 40-60min, go home and let the growing begin.

Variations in Weight Training Routines

Ever heard of someone saying they just can’t make progress? They’ve been in the gym for 3 years doing the same exercises and following the same system, but they just can’t grow.

That’s what blindly sticking to one system and set of exercises gets you.

You are an adaptive being; you change according to the demands placed upon you (like we talked about above).

If you do the same month after month you will be perfectly built for what you are doing. It’s practically effortless for your body, an everyday event. To make progress you must change something, throw in a monkey wrench and surprise your body.

You can change from a full body weight training routine to a split program. Bigger weights lower reps, more sets smaller weights.  Doesn’t matter, just change your routine and your body will too.

Some weight training routines have this build in, such as HST, which is why I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Overtraining and Weight Training Routines

If you train too much you will damage yourself. This is the simple truth, no way around it.

This is how things are done:

  1. You go to the gym, you do microscopic damage to your musculature by lifting weights.
  2. You rest, recover and get stronger.
  3. You go back and do it all over again.

Overtraining means that you train and do not allow enough time for recovery before you train again. When this happens a few weeks in a row you are in danger of overtraining.

Eventually you will get tendonitis, joint injuries, muscle tears and so on. Not to mention the fact that you won’t get stronger or bigger.

Using a weight training routine that allows for enough rest to grow before lifting again is critical.


What is that one magical weight training routine that will be perfect for you?

It’s the one you use regularly.

We are all unique. There is no way to design a perfect exercise program that will fit everyone everywhere all the time.

You will always be the judge taking the final decision. Use the tools you have available to you, training programs, coaches, supplements and rest. Your body and your training journal will tell you what is right for you.

We can only show you the door… 😉

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