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Repetition helps - Target muscles by lifting less weight

By Mark Sorokin | April 11, 2002

Now that you've got a basic knowledge outside of the gym, let's take a look inside. For the next two weeks, I am going to impart some of my knowledge and opinions about the weight and cardio rooms. I have decided to start off by presenting the weight room since just about anyone can do cardio on their own, save those with two left feet.

Five or six body parts present themselves for weight training. They are the chest, back, shoulders, arms and legs. Some people like to separate the arms into biceps and triceps and train those two on separate days.

Beginners and experienced trainers may have different preferences. No matter the split, all muscles should still be trained. The old saying "out of sight, out of mind" certainly does not apply to the back muscles.

For the puny amateur whose chest is the size of Ronnie Coleman's calves, a three-day training week is good enough to get you started. Legs typically take up their own day in most types of routines since they work a tremendous mass and number of muscles.

Therefore, with a three-day week, the second day would involve "pushing" exercises while the third uses "pulling" exercises. In other words, you would be working the chest, shoulders and triceps on day two while day three utilizes the back and biceps.

Given the quality of the newly renovated Hopkins gym, an adequate workout can be done. For those who are just starting out, one set of each exercise for the day is good enough. A set can incorporate any number of repetitions from four to 25.

One thing to keep in mind: quality over quantity. I don't care if you are capable of swinging a 40 pound dumbbell forward to your chest. That may be a cool party trick, but it doesn't fly with your body.

Weight training is also called weight resistance for a reason. You are trying to force your body beyond what it normally does in a positive way in that the muscles will react and adapt. Adaptation of the muscles is muscle growth.

The core exercises in anyone's routines should involve the bench press, shoulder press, biceps curls, pull-ups (or a lateral pull-down) and the leg press. You may notice I did not include an exercise that directly affects the triceps. The reason is because both the bench press and shoulder press indirectly affects the triceps, giving it plenty of a workout. Using a cable or substituting dumbbells for the barbells can easily create variation in these exercises.

The weight room is also a place for creativity. With different types of equipment available, each of those exercises can be done with their own individual variations. For example, the biceps curls can be performed either with a barbell, dumbbells, an e-z bar, or with a cable. With the dumbbells, more variation can be incorporated: doing it seated or standing; alternating arms or at the same time; seated at an incline. The bench press can be done either with a barbell or dumbbell, decline or inclined. The list goes on forever.

I hope I have given at least a basic knowledge of a complete routine and in future weeks, I will go more in depth on each body part. Though you may never be freaky huge, you can at least know what you're doing in the weight room and no matter what when performing exercises, always value quality over quantity.

Let me leave you with this question: Who would you respect more in the room, the guy whose arms have the diameter of a quarter and yet, can pull off a lightning-quick set of 45 pound dumbbell curls, or the freak with trees for arms taking his time with a 30 pound set?

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