Weight-training tips for busy people

July 18, 1997|By John Rhodes

Last week I introduced the idea that a short weight-lifting workout could be very productive and beneficial, if done with intensity. This is not to say that other weight programs, those used by bodybuilders or athletes, are not successful, but there is a place for shorter programs. A short program addresses the lack of time many people face.

Program goals

Most Americans are working long hours to support a household with children or working and going to school. Most Americans have little free time. Spending two to three hours trying to get in shape is almost impossible for most people.

In planning a shorter workout, other factors besides time should also be considered. Is the workout just for toning or firming? Does the individual want to become stronger for a particular activity - like tennis or cycling?

Regular workouts

Many people use a standard three sets of eight to 12 repetitions for a weight-lifting workout. Depending on the goal of the person, sets and repetitions can be increased or decreased, along with the amount of weight used for a particular exercise.


The purpose of weight training is to work the muscle to exhaustion (where the muscle is unable to lift or lower the weight for another rep). If the exhaustion can be achieved in one set instead of two or three or four, then why do more than one? By exhausting the muscle, we are forcing it, after recovery, to adjust to lifting weights by building new tissue.

Shorter workouts

Success of a shorter workout depends on intensity (effort) and going through the workout with a smooth, full range of motion. While there are a number of ways or programs that can achieve success, the following is a fairly easy way to follow the program and gain results in a minimal amount of time.


Always do a four- or five-minute warm-up followed by a total body stretching routine. Stretch again thoroughly after the workout. Always start with the legs and work up to the back, chest, shoulders. Do arms and neck exercises last. Do extended repetitions for 14 seconds each. Do a program of one set with 12 to 15 repetitions. Split your repetitions in half so you lift 6 repetitions with a slow 10 count. Make adjustments with the weights so when you reach the 12th repetition, you feel you can't do another repetition. Also, if you have joint problems or are out-of-shape, lighten the weight and add more repetitions.

This is a condensed explanation of a short but highly effective program.

John Rhodes is co-owner of J&J Health Enterprises in Hagerstown. Write to him in care of The Herald-Mail Co., P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown,Md. 21741.

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