Starting your journey as an iron lumping gym addict can be very exciting yet it can also be quite daunting. Where do you start? Somebody told you to do complete body splits every day, someone else told you train your muscles once per week. The truth is there are several ways to go about it and we are going to share with you our thoughts.
If you are a complete weights virgin, in the context that you haven’t trained muscles to failure and the only time you have brushed shoulders with the metal has been when you have merely flirted with 30+ rep sets with micrograms then you need to start with compound movements! Compound exercises are also known as ‘’multi joint’’ movements and as the name says, require movement in more than one joint. The bench press is a prime example where there is movement in the shoulder and elbow joints. Why are compound exercises so important for beginners? In short they help stimulate high threshold motor units via the CNS (central nervous system) which in turn leads to better muscle fibre recruitment during your workouts. In theory isolation or ‘’single joint’’ exercises won’t do this so well to begin with. The idea is over time your CNS becomes more efficient in ‘’firing up’’ at the start of a workout as your body becomes accustomed to this type of training.
So does this mean isolation exercises are of use to you? Absolutely! After going through an initial phase of 3-4 weeks using compound exercises to ‘’fire’’ the system up isolation exercises are fantastic for the simple purpose of targeting muscle groups specifically and placing them under great levels of tension. It is at this point (after the first 3-4 weeks) you can begin to follow a more ‘’bodybuilding’’ orientated split where you couple compound exercises with isolation movements. More specifically how might you apply all of this together? In simple terms we have outlined a basic 10 week starting training cycle for yourself!
- Compound exercises only
- Train every muscle group twice a week across 3 workouts
- Use a repetition range of 8-10
- Keep rest periods to 60-90 seconds
- Use a negative tempo of 3-4 seconds every repetition
- Workouts lasting between 45-60 minutes, 3 times a week
- Compound & isolation exercises
- Train every muscle group once a week across 4/5 workouts
- Start with 8-10 reps per set in the first week and add 5-10 reps to each set per week
- Start with rest periods of 90 seconds and decrease by 30 seconds per week
- Same repetition tempo as week’s 1-4
- Workouts lasting between 45-60 minutes, 4/5 times a week
Following these guidelines will ensure you are ‘’covering all bases’’ in relation to different muscle fibre populations within different muscle groups. Get off to the best start possible!