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Weight Training
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            Weight training is the building of the body’s muscle to increase or maintain physical fitness, strength, and/or endurance.  Weight training is done by athletes, men, women, and anyone who seeks to be physically fit.  Weight training has many purposes.  It can be used as rehab for someone who is coming off of an injury, weight loss and/or gain.  There are many different programs used for weight training, each has a different muscle group that it focuses on.  Two popular programs, the Nebraska Pyramid and Bigger, Faster, Stronger, use the basic weight training system (percentage of maximum amount lifted).  There are two different types of weight training; resistance and circuit training.  Both types help build muscle strength, but circuit training is at a faster pace.

Men and women used weight training for different reasons.  Men generally use it to build muscle mass and increase strength, while women generally use weight training to tone their muscles.  Women are often afraid to weight train because they think they will bulk up the way men do.  This is not true.  Gaining muscle mass depends on the amount of testosterone in the body.  Men have significantly more testosterone than women, this is why women never bulk up.  There are some men who weight train to become big and bulky like bodybuilders, but they cannot obtain that goal without using illegal drugs or some other supplement to assist them in building muscle.  A person could lift their whole life, and they would not be as big as a bodybuilder.  Many people in the world today weight train to stay healthy in this busy society.  Weight training is common among people who are coming off of a recent injury (broken arm, leg, etc.) to regain strength in that part of the body.  When a part of the body is put into a cast, the muscle around that area is not used.  When a muscle is not used for a long period of time, it shrinks and the person will loose muscle strength.

There are many supplements in the United States that can help men and women become bigger and stronger.  These supplements, or drugs, are known as Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s).  Performance Enhancing Drugs are illegal in the United States, unless they are prescribed by a doctor.  PED’s harm the body physically more than it does good.  These drugs are used to increase the amount of testosterone in the body. PED’s create testosterone in the body which causes muscle tissue to store more protein and increase in size.  Bodybuilders (men and women) often use performance enhancing drugs to help them bulk up.  Without PED’s, bodybuilders would be half as big as they are now.

Rest is an important factor in weight training.  Weight training should not be performed every day but every other day allowing the muscles to recover.  Lifting every day is strenuous on the body, and as the week goes on, a person will find that they cannot perform as good as they were at the beginning of the week.  The day off from lifting is still as important as the day of lifting.  Exercises should consist of the use of the muscle groups of the body (activity that does not involve heavy lifting will help the muscle to heal faster due to an increase in blood flow to the muscle).  A good way to do this is to set up a program where one day can consist of upper body exercises, and the other can consist of lower body exercises.  Doing both upper and lower body exercises in one day can wear out your body leaving it exhausted.  Along with a little break between sets, a good night sleep is also good for the body.  While weight training, it is important to rest 1 minute in between sets to allow the muscle to regain some energy and strength before the next lift.

Along with rest, what you eat and drink is an important factor in weight training.  In the process of weight lifting, muscle tissue is slightly torn which causes the muscle to increase in size and strength.  Muscles are made up of mostly water, so a person will want to stay hydrated to help keep their muscles healthy.  Calories should be added to a diet to help make up for the muscle that was lost, the muscle grow and become bigger.  Nutrients, proteins and fiber are already in a person’s diet, but weight training will cause the body to use more of them to help heal the muscle.  A person should be careful when gaining weight while weight training.  Some of the weight added might not be muscle weight, but fat.  Even though you are to add calories to the diet, you should still burn off those extra calories; otherwise what is not burned up weight training will turn to fat.  Fat is hard to get rid of once it is there.

Weight training is mainly done to increase muscle strength, but it can also be used to loose weight.  A muscle will only get stronger if you lift beyond customary intensity or overload. Overload is when lifts are done at a higher resistance than what the body is used to.  Overload can be achieved by adding weight to the lift, increase the number of repetitions, or increase the number of sets you perform.  A set is the number of times an exercise is performed in that session, a rep is the amount repetitions (or lifts) performed in one set, and the weight is the amount of resistance that is being lifted.  For example,    3 X 10 @ 200 lbs is the same as 10 lifts at 200 lbs and you do this three times.  If a person wanted to loose weight while weight training, the amount of weight lifted would be opposed of someone who was trying to loose weight.  With less weight and more repetitions, the muscles will be working and eventually begin to burn fat.  Toning your muscle is done the same way, light weight is used and it is lifted multiple times.

            There are two types of weight training.  There is resistance training, and there is circuit training.  Resistance training is the basic lifting method. The person will complete one set of lifting, and rest a little, then they would do the next set.  Resistance training allows a person a minute in between sets to rest.  Resistance training is more beneficiary to people who are looking to gain weight and muscle strength.  Circuit training is a timed session of lifting.  A person will go from station to station doing as many reps as he can fit in the time limit, and take a small break in between stations before starting the next.  Circuit training is used to increase some muscle strength, not as much as resistance training, but mainly to tone the muscle, and burn fat.  Circuit training allows a person to work on his cardiovascular exercise along with lifting.  An advantage to circuit training is a person may perform many different exercises in a short period of time and get a good workout.

            There are many weight training programs that are used for different muscles in the body.  Most, if not all, of these programs follow the same scale using percentages to figure out the amount of weight to be lifted for each set.  For example, the Nebraska Pyramid Program bases the amount of weight used using percentages of the maximum weight of a certain lift.  The program uses different percentages over a 10 week period.  Another program is the Bigger, Faster, Stronger (BFS) weight training program.  BFS uses percentages, and the amount of sets and reps changes each week.


Nebraska Pyramid

Bigger, Faster, Stronger

Week 1

3 X 10 @ 65%, 70%, 75%

3 X 3

Week 2

4 X 8 @ 65% 70% 75% 78%

5 X 5

Week 3

5 X 6 @ 65% 70% 75% 78% 81%


Week 4 & 5


@ 50% 60% 70% 80% 85% 90%

(Start over after week 5)

10-8-6 or 4-4-2

(Start over after week 4)

* I could not find percentages for the Bigger, Faster, Stronger Program

These two programs are not designed for certain lifts.  The Nebraska Pyramid and the BFS program work successfully on any kind of lifts. 

            The first few weeks of the Nebraska Pyramid start out fairly tough.  Many repetitions are required for each set, which tires the muscle fairly quick.  By increasing the amount of weight used for each set, the muscle is tired by the last set, so it has to use more energy to complete the lift.  This will cause the muscle to tear more, and you will get stronger a lot faster than if you were using the BFS program.

 The BFS program does not consist of as much lifting as the Nebraska Pyramid, and it does not have as easy a way to change the program to fit what a person would want to do.  BFS is also a popular program.  Bigger, Faster, Stronger is a program that many high school sports teams use.  The program helps the athlete become bigger, faster and stronger over a period of time.  The BFS program consists of a wider variety of lifts that work the same muscle, but only requires a few lifts for each set.  This program is more time consuming having to go from one lift to another to work the same muscle.  Bigger, Faster, Stronger is a fairly safe program.  Many of the lifts require a spotter, and some of the lifts could cause a person to have back problems and other injuries if the lifts are not done correctly. 

The Nebraska Pyramid is the better program of the two because it involves more lifting at variable weights, and it works a lot easier for different lifts you want to perform.  The Nebraska Pyramid is used in colleges and high school all across America.  It is a safe program, and any kind of lifting can be applied to the program.  After lifting for about 10 weeks using the Nebraska Pyramid, my bench has gone up 25 pounds, and all my other lifts have gone up around 10-20 pounds.  I have used the BFS program in the past and the results I received from it were not nearly has good as using the Nebraska Pyramid.

Weight training is for anyone who wants to loose weight, gain muscle strength, or tone their body.  Weight training has become popular in the US.  It is a great way for people to stay in shape as they get older.  Many people in America are trying to loose some weight that they have gained over the years, and a good way to accomplish this is to exercise and eat right.

Written by Mark Johnson
March 28, 2005