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Starting Out With Exercise

If you are just starting out, be patient. Any muscle that hasn't been worked hard in more than a week or so will let you know within 24 hours that it has been stressed. That's OK. You will be sore at first. You should be sore at first. But that goes away.
  • Start light, ease into hard work. For most people, fitness is not a competitive activity, but one of self-realization. Do only what is right for you, and don't worry about the person at the next machine. Resist the temptation to do more than you can.
  • Whenever you start a new exercise, make certain that you master the correct form. Use weights with which you can complete, with good form, three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Only then should you increase the weight.
  • Start with a program and schedule you will be able to maintain. Fitness is a long term proposition not a short term endeavor.

  •  Sets, Reps, and Rest
    Reps or Repetitions: The number of times a movement is done consecutively without stopping.
    Sets: A set is a group of repetitions. By choosing the proper combination of sets and reps you can shape the effect of your workout. Note that the number of sets doesn't include warm-ups.
    Goal Reps,
    Upper Body
    Sets Workout type Rest Between Sets
    Build Muscle Mass 8-12 10-15 3-4 To Failure 40 - 60 seconds
    Increase Definition 12-15 15-18 3 To Failure 40 - 60 seconds
    Tone and Sculpt 16 - 24 16-24 2 Sub-Maximal 30 seconds

     Working to Failure
    Performing an exercise until you are no longer able to complete another rep and maintain good form. Once you have advanced beyond the starting point, you will want to optimize your workouts. To increase definition or add muscle mass you should to do each set to failure. That means selecting the right weight, and/or changing the weight between sets.

     Workout Partners
    Getting a good workout partner is a great way to increase motivation, improve results, and have fun while achieving your goals. Knowing that your buddy is waiting for you will help you overcome the biggest obstacle to working out - getting out the door.

    Warming up takes two forms - overall, and specific. For the "overall" part, it's always a good idea to begin any strength workout with a short aerobic exercise to "get the blood" flowing. This should be a 5-10 minutes low intensity warm-up, and is not a substitute for a more focused aerobic workout.

    "Specific" warm-ups are done before you begin heavy lifting with any given muscle group. The first time you work a muscle group you should do 10-12 reps at 60% to 75% of your intended first set weight. When combined with stretching, warming up will help prevent injuries and allow you to get the most from your workouts. If you allow a muscle group to cool by resting too long, between exercises, you should warm it up again before heavy lifting.

    Stretching lengthens the muscles your are working. It helps them contract through their full range of motion, as it keeps you flexible. It's a good idea to stretch the muscle being worked between sets.