Don’t Go Overboard — Best Books About Exercise

On my previous blog, we’ve talked about how proper rest can greatly affect your body in different ways. On today’s blog, we’ll be opening up the best books about exercise and talk about optimizing your workouts with the right amount of sets, the right equipment, and warming up.

How Many Days A Week Should I Strength Train?  

While we’ll cover detailed recommendations for your strength training days shorty, for now, it’s important to understand how you can fall prey to “Overkill” by strength training too many days of the week.  

If you do not take enough time off during the week from strength training, you are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on your tendons, ligaments and muscles, which again could result in injury – perhaps even catastrophic.  

While studies show the breaking down of muscle fiber as an integral part of the strength and muscle building process, these same studies also show that overtraining (Overkill) leads to reductions in speed, power, and the ability to perform exercises.   

Essentially, by overtraining, you’re setting yourself up for failure and going backward. Again, you’ll need to listen to the warning signals your body and mind provide in order to avoid this massive pitfall. To get more familiar with these signals, go ahead and take note if you feel any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Loss of appetite and unintended weight loss 
  • Inability to focus 
  • Anxious, impatient, irritable or restless
  • Soreness and weakness that doesn’t go away with rest 
  • Irregularly slow or fast heart rate 
  • Depression 

While these symptoms could be related to other factors like stress or illness, studies show that these could be from overtraining.

If this is the case, your body will let you know. So first and foremost, listen to your body and these warning signals, they’re like alarm clocks telling you to take better care of yourself. Fortunately yoga will come in big in this regard as it will help you become more mindful and aware of potential problems before they happen.

Second, in addition to resting from particular exercises and muscle groups I recommend the following:

  • 2-3 Hard Sets – If you’re doing 2-3 hard sets, try not to exercise the same muscle group more than 1-2 days a week or less if you feel weak.
  • 1 Hard Set – If you’re doing 1 hard set of a particular exercise, try not to exercise the same muscle group more than 2-4 days a week or less if you feel weak.

This will become more clear when we get to the recommended training programs. Just know, for now, strength training with hard sets can easily lead to “Overkill,” so listen to your body and allow it to fully recover before you hit those hard sets. 

Do I Need To Warm-up?

While there are cases when you won’t need to warm-up, when you do “hard sets” using weights, the answer is “Yes,” you should warm-up. 

When you first start strength training with weights, you won’t be strong enough to lift a lot, which means you can probably get away with poor technique. But once you get stronger, the increased volume of weight increases the risk of injury.  

Fortunately, studies show that a short warm-up routine can significantly boost performance levels, which can translate into more muscle and strength gain over time. Accordingly, to make sure each of your major muscle groups are warmed up for peak performance, in Fired Up you’re going to do 1-2 warm-up sets prior to each hard set of a particular muscle group. 

If your workout involves exercises that use the same muscle groups you will only need to warm-up on your first exercise.  

For example, let’s say it’s a push day and you want to do bench press, overhead shoulder press and dips. And let’s also say that your “hard set” weight of 4-8 reps is currently 130 pounds.

In this case, you would first warm-up for the bench press by lowering the weight to about 50% of your hard set weight (65 pounds) then slowly and with control do 10-15 reps. When you finish this first set you can do another warm-up set by adding up 80% of your “hard set” weight (100 pounds) and do one more warm-up set with 8-13 reps. 

Now, you’re warmed up and it’s time to begin your hard sets. 

Once you get to the shoulder press, you’ve already warmed up your press muscles with the bench press, so you can jump into your hard sets right away.

The same goes for your dips since these are also warmed up during the bench press warm-up.

When Warm-up Is Unnecessary

When you are strength training without weight you may or may not need to warm-up depending on your level of strength.  

If for example, you can easily push past 8 reps of a particular exercise then you can simply apply the super slow strength training principles taught earlier and focus on proper form.  

On the other hand, if you are just getting started, you can warm-up by reducing the weight of your body.  

For example, push-ups can be done with your knees on the floor, pull-ups can be done with your feet on a chair and dips can be done with your feet on the floor or a chair.  

In addition to giving your muscles proper time for recovery, the second most important key to avoiding injury in strength training is to make a commitment to proper form.  

If you are raising and lowering the weight too quickly you are at a much higher risk for poor form and eventual injury. Make sure you watch the videos from the Fired Up program and commit to becoming a form fanatic!

Commit To Being A Form Fanatic!

What Equipment Do I Need?

At this point, we’ve talked about strength training routines both with and without weights. To be absolutely clear, you do not need any equipment at all to perform strength training but if it’s in your budget you can amplify your gains and create more power with some very basic equipment. Here is what I recommend:

Gym Membership – While obvious, a gym will give you access to both free-weights and machines that will allow you to do the entire Fired Up Strength Training program.  

Multi-Use Machine – If going to the gym isn’t appealing to you I understand. Personally, I don’t always have the time and there a lot of distractions at the gym so occasionally I’ll use my “Total Iron Gym” multifunction bar at home. This allows me to do pull-ups, chin-ups, leg raises, push-ups and dips without ever having to leave my home. 

Resistance Bands – Again, if the gym isn’t in the cards I recommend buying some inexpensive resistance bands, which will allow you to increase the weight and lower your reps thereby increasing both muscle and strength.  

Dumbbells – For most of your strength training exercises you can use dumbbells, which I highly recommend. Even better, if you can buy ones with various weight options you can increase your options considerably. You can buy brand new multi-option dumbbells for around $50 to $500.

Bench – By giving you the support to push more weight (dumbbells or barbell) a bench will be a big asset to your workout program and you can get one for around $50.  

WARNING:  Don’t Get Ripped Off

There is lots of low-grade cheap stuff out there so I only recommend buying from a reputable source where you can return it for no charge. I’ve researched the best and most affordable products and listed them on our resources page. So make sure you check them out at the link listed below before you purchase:

Did this pique your interest? Want to learn more? To learn more, I suggest checking out the Fired Up program here.

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