Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout

Strength Training

At this level, you will do strength training exercises twice a week, with three sets each. All sets need to have eight to 12 reps, with the final three reps crucial for reaping benefits. As with usual strength training routines, see to it that your last rep is challenging as possible. For a demonstration of your Day 1 advanced strength training exercises, you can watch this video:

When doing exercises in your third set, aim to reach muscle failure. Don’t forget the proper tempo when lifting weights: three-second positive, one-second isometric squeeze and three-second negative. Lift slowly and ensure you’re contracting your muscles through the entire range of motion, and avoid focusing solely on getting from point A to point B.

For Day 2 of your advanced strength training exercises, watch the demonstration below:

Before performing any strength training exercise, warm up your muscles by doing five to 10 minutes of brisk walking or another aerobic activity. Cold muscles tend to be more injury-prone, so warmups do more than boost performance. When performing reps, always listen to your body. Stop exercising once you feel pain. If you want to try again, change your posture or position, or use less weight.

Take note that strength training exercises may not be for everyone. If possible, evaluate your level of readiness for this type of exercise by considering important factors. Check with your doctor or trainer first if you are:

  • A senior citizen who previously has not been physically active
  • Currently dealing with a serious illness
  • Dealing with a chronic condition, such as low back pain or a bad knee

Strong muscles can lead to a strong brain

Strength training is another form of exercise that’s been linked to improved brain health. One study found that muscle strength, measured using hand grip strength, may strongly indicate brain health. An analysis of data collected from 475,397 British participants revealed that the stronger an individual’s hand grip, the better they performed across every brain function test the researchers used.1

Grip strength was strongly correlated to brain health, particularly in working memory and processing speed. The researchers theorized that if grip strength could predict functional and physical health outcomes in individuals who suffered from schizophrenia, further interventions to improve muscle strength can impact cognitive and real-world functioning.

Another study also established a connection between strong leg muscle strength and cognitive health. As it turns out, neurological health is as dependent on signals from your large leg muscles as it is on signals from your brain to your muscles. Once you’re unable to perform load-bearing exercises, you not only lose muscle mass due to muscle atrophy, but your body chemistry is impacted in such a way that your nervous system and brain also begin to deteriorate.2

Blood flow restriction training may effectively build muscle

Blood flow restriction training, or Kaatsu training, involves performing strength training exercises while restricting blood flow to the extremity being worked on. This method is beneficial as it allows you to perform strength exercises using 30% to 50% of weight you'd normally use, while still reaping maximum benefits. In a way, you're trading weight for repetitions, in that you're using less weight but doing more reps — up to 20 or 30 repetitions — as opposed to the 10 or 12 you might normally do.

This training method uses cuffs or bands, like elastic knee wraps, that are just tight enough to allow arterial blood flow but not venous flow. This restriction causes lactic acid and other waste products to build up, giving you the same benefit as heavy lifting without the dangers associated with heavy weights.

Forcing blood to remain inside your muscles longer than normal by restricting venous flow also promotes more rapid muscle fatigue and muscle failure that prompts subsequent repair and regeneration processes.

A typical training session involves three sets, with repetitions ranging from 20 to 30 reps per set, while using half or less of the weight you'd normally use. Rest periods between sets are typically short, possibly lasting 30 seconds.

As a result, you end up doing upward of 90 repetitions of any given exercise. You would want to perform that many reps because you need to work the muscle long enough to create the "metabolic crisis" conditions described earlier. It is this metabolic stimulus that drives muscle adaptation and rapid growth.

When performing blood flow restriction exercises, avoid excessive restriction as this may lead to severe bruising and dizziness. If you band your arm or leg to the point that all blood flow is completely cut off while leaving it there for too long, it may lead to nerve and muscle damage. While such risks are said to be relatively low and simply uncomfortable, keep them in mind because they could lead to events that are the opposite of what you’re aiming for.

If your limb starts tingling or turns red, blue or purple, or you notice you're losing feeling in it or cannot detect your pulse, this means that your band is too tight, so loosen it up — or simply remove it and stop the exercise. Other side effects that may arise from wrongfully doing blood flow restriction training exercises, although rare, include rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can trigger kidney failure or cardiac arrhythmia due to the release of intercellular contents from damaged muscle.

What is the towel glider workout?

The towel glider workout is a 20-minute bodyweight exercise from Popsugar Fitness that requires nothing more than two small towels or paper plates, if you plan to do it on a carpeted surface. This workout involves three circuits, alongside warmups and cool downs. This workout proves that strength exercises do not have to be complex or require a gym in order to be beneficial, and that you can utilize your bodyweight or inexpensive items to achieve desired results.

Dave Smith, writing in a Greatist article, highlighted that bodyweight exercises like this workout may lead to the following benefits:3

  • Increased flexibility and efficiency despite short workout times
  • Enhanced cardiovascular health and strength
  • Improved core strength and balance

For an in-depth look at the steps involved in the towel glider workout, read this article. You can also watch the video below, courtesy of PopSugar Fitness.

Other benefits linked to strength training exercises

Regular strength training can also:

  • Help develop firm and defined abs — Enhanced core muscle strength is one of the many benefits linked to strength training. Your abdominal muscles provide the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, so by strengthening them, you’re able to protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury, and gain greater balance and stability.
  • When adding and performing abdominal exercises, make sure they’re done in a variety of ranges of motion, in different angles and positions, so all of your core muscles are engaged.

    Take note that what works for one person or body type may not be suitable for another. To ensure you reap success and achieve better core strength, find exercises that work for you, are challenging and produce visible results. Don’t forget to focus on your form rather than a specific number of repetitions, and always engage your abs when performing movements.

    There are multiple core-strengthening moves you can incorporate in your workout, such as ab crunches, pushups, planks and standing ab exercises like weighted side bends, standing side crunch, standing stabilization and march with a twist.

  • May increase muscle mass and strength — This can be achieved via SuperSlow weight training, which actually serves as the foundation of strength training. The key to the SuperSlow weightlifting technique is to remove momentum, disallowing muscle rest. When this happens, you "super charge" muscle growth because it has to continuously work throughout the entire movement. Despite being more intense, SuperSlow is far safer than regular forms of weight training.
  • Body weight exercises, biking, swimming, walking, sprinting, rowing and weightlifting can be classified as SuperSlow weight training exercises because they usually involve slow movements that can produce heightened intensity and turn your workout into a HIIT session.

  • Lessen injury risk — The reduction in momentum and the necessity of proper form emphasized in SuperSlow weight training may reduce your injury risk. Increasing the challenge to your muscle without raising the possibility for muscle and joint damage may improve your success with the program.
  • Increase calorie burn and fat loss, while decreasing time spent on exercise — According to results of a 2012 study, doing shorter high-intensity resistance training (HIRT) sessions can raise resting energy expenditure (REE), or the amount of calories burned, compared to a traditional resistance workout.4
  • Raise muscle mass faster than traditional programs — In two informal studies, participants who performed SuperSlow weight training experienced a more than 50% gain in muscle strength.
  • Boost energy production at the cellular level — By practicing high-intensity weight training, your body can produce more energy by delivering substrate to your mitochondria more quickly, effectively and efficiently than traditional aerobic exercise.

Final reminders when doing strength training exercises

When performing any type of strength training exercise, monitor your body and symptoms to determine your ideal workout frequency. As your workouts become more advanced and intensify, you may actually need to do them less frequently and have more rest in order to avoid overtraining.

If you’re performing high-intensity weight training, avoid exercising more than three nonconsecutive days each week. If you’re an advanced athlete, an older athlete or typically don’t recover quickly, work out for a lesser period of time. If you’re performing high-intensity weight training, avoid exercising more than three nonconsecutive days each week. If you’re an advanced athlete, an older athlete or typically don’t recover quickly, work out for a lesser period of time.

You’ll need to consider these factors thoroughly because hard training breaks down muscle tissue and makes it temporarily weaker. It is during the rest periods between your workouts that your muscles grow stronger. Not getting enough rest may raise your risk for overtraining syndrome, which is characterized by:

  • Reduced performance — You’ll find that you reach muscle fatigue faster for each set of exercises.
  • Post-workout fatigue (usually days after the workout) — You may experience flu-like symptoms including overall muscle ache, exhaustion, headache and a general feeling of malaise that may extend for days after your workout.
  • Continuous fatigue between workouts — This will cause you to feel worse on more days.

Overtraining syndrome doesn’t just operate on the physiological level, but it can also trigger emotional, mental and behavioral symptoms that can persist for weeks or months.

The appropriate volume of exercise to avoid overtraining syndrome will depend on different factors, such as your age, gender and nutrition, to name a few. Aim for a schedule where you don't feel tired after 24 hours, you feel invigorated and healthy, and your next workout is not more difficult than your last.