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How do I do strength training?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
I remember the strengthening exercises, and the rules for them, by the mnemonic INEEDIT. The basic rules of strength training are:

  • Inner core (center of the body) first. Strengthen these muscles before you move to others. Do these for at least two weeks before starting strengthening other muscle groups.
  • Never sacrifice form for weight. The weights you use will increase dramatically over the first fourteen weeks (best if under the supervision of a trainer) and then very gradually for as long as you do weight lift, which I hope is for life.
  • Eight to 12 rule: You've got to be able to lift the weight at least eight times to gain the benefit, otherwise it's too heavy a weight. But if you can lift it more than twelve times, the weight is too light. If you can lift it more than twelve times, all you are getting is a stamina benefit in the muscle, not a strengthening benefit. You should strive to exhaust the muscle you are trying to strengthen somewhere between repetition #9 to #12.
  • Exhale on the most strenuous portion of the lift of the weight against gravity.
  • Do walking every day first (on an angle or hill is best, after you have strengthened your calf muscles).
  • Intensive cardiovascular exercise should be done only after you have done strengthening and walking every day.
  • Triumph of persistence makes exercise fun after ninety days.

Strength training requires some type of outside resistance such as gravity, dumbbells or tubing. To perform strength training focus on doing 2-4 sets of each exercise with 8-12 repetitions. Doing this will signal your muscles to grow, and allow them to exert more force efficiently. As you get stronger, increase the weight and sets, and decrease the repetitions you perform.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.