TL;DR- for anyone curious about weight training, just read the short explanation after "Beginners Guide" below to get a quick idea of how simple it all is to get started. It's only about 10 sentences and ends at "And there we have it" to give you an idea that this will only take a few minutes to read yet it will explain a LOT of how it all basically works, and give you the image of how to do it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Often in other sections we end up talking extensively about weight lifting and generally fitness built around it, so this thread is for that. I'll @ a lot of people who come to mind as I've been meaning to make a thread for a while and I think a lot of people were interested in it. Firstly I don't think people realise how straight forward a weight training program is. When I first went to the gym around age 18, I was all over the place in terms of organisation. I was doing the work, but had little clue about muscle groups, even had little clue about sets and reps! I was just selecting a weight and going, sometimes way too heavy and do 5 reps (which is fine for strength training but not what I was doing) sometimes too light and literally over 20 reps, it was a total, total, mess. I just wish someone around me had told me the very basic info to keep myself focused, I had no discipline and ran around like a headless chicken. Because of this my 3-5 days training a week slowly dwindled, over a year after getting serious about it, I was then down to just 1 training day maybe ever few weeks, essentially pointless, but that was a result of not ever being given good basic information. And it was my fault as I never asked around me, all the guys I knew that were working out. Below would have been great: Beginners guide: Here's quite a straightforward 4 day program: http://www.muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-routines/gain-10-pounds-muscle-4-weeks-1?day=1 You do at least 1 muscle group per session, normally 2 or 3. For this we'll be looking at Chest, and this is typically what a lot of programs begin with on Day 1 (there's no rule for this or reason though). Each muscle group should have about 3-5 exercises, an "exercise" for example bench press. Do a few warm up sets to start off with very light weight or even just the bar, and get form right. If you are a bit intimidated by the Bench Press, start off with a Dumbbell Bench Press instead: After warm up do 3 "sets", each set consists of "repetitions", which you do 6-12 in typical hypertrophy (building muscle, though I'd aim for at least 8 reps personally). After doing say, 10 repetitions, you take a decent rest break in between, for something like bench press anything from 1-3mins (personally about 90 seconds for me). Then do the next 2 sets of repetitions. Then do 2-3 more exercises. And there we have it, I wasted many months not knowing this very simple info. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ In the above link they decide to mix in a tricep exercise (dips) between chest exercises, that's all fine, and then it goes back to chest for exercise 4, and then to triceps to finish on exercise 5. A session shouldn't last more than an hour, a lot of people swear no more than 45minutes, and some as little as half an hour. Of course when you're starting out, just try and complete the whole thing, there can be moments if you're low on energy it's easy to just want out of there. It may take up to even 90mins when you're getting everything right, obviously keep trying to get close or below an hour but don't worry much in the beginning as long as you're getting it done. Once you get into it though, you'll rarely have this feeling of wanting out of there, unless you're genuinely feeling unwell and sickly (in 9 months now of training at least 4 times a week, I've cut short less than a handful of sessions). With the above program and basic set/rep explanation, that's literally 90% of what you need to know. Look up form etc. of course, and most gyms will have someone to walk you through exercises the first time. For me I picked up on form and technique quickly, it just all seemed like common sense to me, pushing through legs, arched back, etc. but there's always a few things that will surprise you (eg in Bench Press elbows pointed "down" at a slight angle, I would have assumed they'd be completely parallel with the bar). Obviously at first just keep it light and simple, get form correct, your first week or even few weeks you won't be aiming to stress your body out much, just get the basics. Once you have some idea of form... How much weight do I lift? Your 1RM (1 Rep Maximum) is 100% of what you can lift in one go, you don't need to literally find this out, I still don't know mine for any exercise, but you should be guessing at going around 70-80% of your 1RM. There are Rep Maximum calculators out there that are easy to use but I think it's pretty much common sense, if you can bench press 60kg 5 times, and just about get out that last rep, your 1RM is probably up to 70-75kg, which means from fresh with all of your force you could lift that weight once. I think you get the idea. This is where others may disagree, but personally I always exercise to "failure", every single set, say for example I'm aiming for 8-12 reps, the last 2 or 3 will be incredibly strained. Forcing out the final rep until I can't give anymore. So I choose a weight that the first handful or several reps are comfortable, and the last few I really have to dig deep. Now to me this seems like common sense but I've since found a lot of guys really disagree with this type of training, some on here as well. Basically they push the idea that form should be perfect, smooth and controlled - which is true, but for me not until the very last rep which can be sloppy and forced. But yes this non-failure idea is 100% true form, not 1 bad rep, and good muscle contraction throughout and focus on that, these guys pretty much think the weight should be comfortable even if you aren't straining by the 12th rep. Does either bring optimal results? I obviously do to Failure because I believe breaking the muscle fibres down as much as possible will result in a muscle growing larger in a quicker time when recovering. But being honest- I don't have a clue. And try and keep to the basics as above, but don't get too flustered by contradictions in the fitness industry, because it is constant, there's literally very little that is not for dispute. What influences my decision as well is simply that I enjoy pushing to failure, that is the fun for me, digging deep and wearing yourself out. I wouldn't feel the same if I got to the end of reps, comfortably breathed out and put the weight down. I want to feel out of it, almost dizzy. Muscle contraction is very important, if you can start to feel this straight away then great, but it took a while for me and for some exercises it's still not really happening. Eg Bench Press is for chest, however I don't get huge chest contraction, but with Cable Crossover Flyes I can feel my chest really working. For this exercise for example, when you get to the "top" of the movement, pushing the cables completely forward, you "contract" your chest, focus on your muscles tensing. Another exercise to understand this that I find helps understand this, is the Lateral Raise. (It's more common to use a dumbbell instead of kettlebell like above, but I like that this picture shows the muscle groups) I'm kind of surprise that I'm finding out this is mainly for the deltoids, because while no doubt I can feel these working, I find this exercise is exceptional for feeling trap contraction. So anyway, for me at least, on each rep I fully lower the weight down to my side, I often don't see people do this. They "lock" before fully lowering and relaxing the muscle, to keep a tension, which is understandable with a lot of exercises but this is not one of them. When fully lowered and relaxed I can feel that trap muscle completely relax, and then "pop" back into gear when I go to lift again. It's repeatedly working the muscle from fresh, and feels incredible. That kind of contraction you should really be aiming towards on every exercise. I'm going to have a ton of questions for those more experienced weight lifters on this forum, which of course is partly why I made the thread, as well as encouraging those who are curious which is why I tried to provide as brief of a guide as possible above. I was talking to @macaroni recently (I believe I may have given the same exercise program to?) and he seemed to really like how simple it all looks when it's laid out on 1 page of a program like that. I don't know if that sparked something in him to start, but for me when I realised how straight forward it is, that's when things really kicked off, and I've been hooked since. About every 3 months I'll take a week off, or at least 5 days, and I start itching to get back. I honestly think exercise has greatly improved my brain functionality, such as memory, recollection of particular phrases word-for-word, sometimes when telling a story to a group of people for example, I'd freeze a little at parts and thinking about the next part of a story while explaining the current part (which natural extroverts probably don't even realise is what their brain does) would sometimes require pausing, going "uhm... ahh.." etc. Well no longer, it just rattles off now. It's made huge differences in a lot of ways, and not only do I love the feeling of weight lifting itself, and the feeling afterwards, but I didn't expect the general benefits to be so great. On top of this your gym time will give you a reason to improve nutrition. Now I need to get back on track with this admittedly. Anyway my first question is about contraction, and how I fail to really get it from some exercises. For example Bicep Curls (dumbbell, barbell, cable, any type) I am not feeling my "ball" of a bicep really straining, I'm still working the muscle but rarely getting that true contraction that I'd feel in the aforementioned exercises for chest or traps. I got Fat Gripz recently, and it appears to be helping considerably. So to other guys, experienced or not, do you get that huge feeling of contraction with say a barbell bicep curl? Do you have advice on how to promote this feeling? And do you always feel contraction on intended muscles for every exercise? As I do not. Here's the Fat Grips and I highly recommend them for Biceps, Forearms too, the jury is still out on other muscle groups though: @shookwun @kj6723 @WhitePolarBear @Afro_Vacancy @hairblues @CaptainForehead @swingline747 @buckthorn @whatevr @CopeForLife Sorry if I'm forgetting people I've talked to about this before, or even if I've included people from memory who may not give a shit about training. But we've often talked about how we often talk about lifting in random threads but don't have a properly devoted thread to discuss it. I've browsed bodybuilding forums etc. but although you can pick up on good advice to read, I find interacting with these guys intimidating. For example they think bench pressing your own body weight is still laughably "pussy" when I'm still a long way off that, at least 10kilos. But I don't understand this because these guys on BBF etc. some of them aren't that big or anything, but toned, and they seem to be thinking like an 80kilo bench press is weak sauce, but I know very few "normal" sized guys who aren't huge bricks of muscle, that can push around this weight. I even know one guy who's a semi-famous social media type personal trainer, with lots of clients, and he just got his 5 Rep PB last week, of 77.5 kilo? Made me feel better admittedly, he is short but has big arms and a huge chest. Anyway here's a few other programs I've done: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/building-von-moger-6-week-mass-program http://www.building-muscle101.com/weight-training-program-5.html The last being my favourite, out of the 3 posted and 2 other programs I've done from personal trainers. This is going to be my next one: https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jim-stoppani-six-week-shortcut-to-shred.html And I also like the look of this one, after cutting some considerable weight doing Stoppani: http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/the-muscle-building-workout-routine/ This is looking a few months down the line, and I'll be seriously upping my calories for it.