Individuals at Fitness Level 3 have a lot of experience with resistance training, but would like more results than they are currently getting. A few things to note prior to beginning a new program include: 1) Determining the correct resistance level: In general, use enough resistance to fatigue your muscles when you have completed the appropriate number of repetitions within a set. If you cannot complete all the repetitions within a set, decrease the amount of resistance. NEVER sacrifice form to get the last repetition in - if you do this, you will get injured at some point in time. Always make sure the last repetition is as pretty as the first. Always make sure you are using the proper form!. I can’t tell you how many people lift weights without having their backs properly supported. If you are lifting weights and feel stress on your back, knees etc... chances are you are not using the correct form. If you are in a health club ask for help. If you are at home, purchase a book or video that explains the correct form to use - nothing is worth hurting your back or joints! Always consult a physician prior to beginning or changing an exercise program. Now that I’ve given you some friendly advice, I’ll cover the exercise program for fitness level 3.
Most experts in the field recommend working 5 times a week for 30 minutes a session. Try to complete 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions. Remember, this is just a guideline. If your focus is on endurance and toning, rather than increasing your muscular strength, you may want to use less weight with more repetitions than 8-12. If your focus is on strength, more weight and fewer repetitions makes sense. MAKE sure that you can complete at least 8 reps - if you can’t you are using too much weight. If you are doing 3 sets, you may not be able to fit all the major muscle groups into 1 workout. Try alternating upper body/trunk one day and lower body the next. Never work the same muscle group two days in a row because the muscles need at least 24 hours to recover. In addition to resistance work, you should also incorporate aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise and flexibility (stretching) exercises into your workout. To really see results, you must decrease your body fat. Many people confuse body fat with obesity. Body fat is the percentage of fat that you store in your body as opposed to lean muscle mass. There are very thin people who have too much body fat because they do not exercise. There are also average to above average sized people who have very little body fat and are all muscle.
At this fitness level, if you exercise aerobically 3 times per week for at least 30 minutes, you will see more results from your strength training. (Aerobic exercise is any activity that increases your heartrate into the target zone at a pace that you can sustain for at least 30 minutes. Aerobic activities include: jogging, speed walking, bicycling, aerobic classes, swimming, in-line skating etc...
In addition to aerobic exercise, you should also do some form of stretching. Not only will stretching relieve muscle aches/pains, it will also reduce your chance of injuring muscles. (It actually helps serious body builders lift more weight because their muscles aren’t tight). It is a good idea to stretch about 5 minutes before you start exercising and for about 5 minutes after you are done. If you are just going to do resistance work, try to warm up your muscles prior to stretching (5 minutes is sufficient). You can use an exercise bike, march in place, jog, etc... Make sure you stretch major muscle groups such as: Quadriceps (front of the upper thigh), Hamstrings (back of the upper thigh), Calves (Gastrocnemius(upper) and Soleus(lower)), Gluteus Maximus, Shoulders/Chest and Arms. When stretching, try to hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds.
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