Strength Training (Exercise Program 3)

Strength training is an important component to an exercise program.  It also seems to be the most confusing part of the program for new exercisers.  There are many different variables in a lifting program: days, sets, reps, weight, rest.  But don’t worry – I’ll explain the essentials here and have you feeling stronger within two weeks, guaranteed.

Why strength training?  The easy answer that fits every individual is that strength training makes life easier.  That’s right, when you are stronger you are able to do the ADLs (activities of daily living) much easier.  You can take those two flights of stairs because your legs don’t get tired that easily.  You can bring in 4 bags of groceries instead of two.  You can pick up that box for storage, climb the step ladder and heave it over your head without fear of falling.  You name it, it will be easier after just two weeks of strength training.

The other reason I like to focus on is increased confidence.  When you’ve spent time “pushing weights around” and adding some strength to your frame, your frame and your confidence display your hard work.  You walk a little more upright.  You move around better.  You feel more confident in your body – both men and women.

As I noted earlier, strength training is probably the most confusing part of the exercise program.  This post will make you familiar with the essentials so you can start lifting this week.  Remember – think of this training in terms of progression.  Strength training provides the greatest feedback in terms of accomplishing a goal and moving forward.

First, some definitions:

  • repetitions (reps): number of times a weight is lifted, ranging from 8-15
  • sets: number of times a group of reps are completed, ranging from 2-4
  • weight: come on, you know what weight is

Some debate exists on how often strength training needs to occur (per week) for benefits to be seen.  At minimum you need to lift two days per week.  This is mostly for maintenance, but it’s a good place to start.  Ideally I have my clients lifting three to four days per week.

Without me being able to demonstrate the proper technique of these lifts, I’m giving you homework.  If you are unsure of how these lifts should be done you should search YouTube for proper technique.  As always, I’m available for individual consultation in the comments section or on Facebook (

So how do you put together a strength training program?  Let’s start with two days per week and six lifts.  (Remember, you have to look these up for proper technique)

  • Bench Press
  • Bent-over Row
  • Bicep Curl
  • Tricep Extension
  • Military Press
  • Squat

There are a couple reasons for me including these lifts but all I want you to walk away with is the understanding that these are the building blocks for a complete strength training program.

How much to lift?  That’s up to you, and it will require some trial and error.  Your goal is to lift each weight 8 times (reps) and do this for three sets.  You should lift in the order listed, and you can do two exercises at a time, alternating.  So it would happen like this:

  1. bench #1 followed by row #1 (which would be first set)
  2. do this for a total of three sets
  3. move to curl #1 followed by extension #1 (which would be the first set)
  4. do this for a total of three sets
  5. finish with military press #1 followed by squats #1 (which would be  – you guessed it – the first set)
  6. do this for a total of three sets
Have I mentioned I’m available in the Comments Section?  You can also email me at Hans416 [at] gmail dot com.   (Sorry, I’m a little paranoid about spammers.)
Two weeks.  
That’s all you’ll need to grow out of the first set of weights you started at.  You’ll see increases within two weeks if you lift 2-3 days per week.  All the gains won’t happen that fast or that often, so enjoy it while it’s there.
Strength training is important for so many aspects of your health, both mental and physical.  I’ll write about that more in later posts.  Have you experienced any benefits of strength training?  Share your experience with me and this community (you’re not the only reader, mom) in the Comments Section.

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Happy Training!!

One thought on “Strength Training (Exercise Program 3)

  1. Aunt Sue

    thanks for the encouragement here! I have gotten through week #1! Yippee…what does picking up your grandson 10 times a day count for???:)I like that one!


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