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Weight training can be a fun and energizing way to maintain strength, lose weight, and keep a healthy, good-looking body. Listed below are a few tips on setting up a great muscle-building, fat-burning workout.

The 640+ muscles of the body are divided into upper body muscles and lower body muscles. The upper body has a greater number of muscles but they are smaller than those of the lower body. The largest muscles are contained in the lower body and subsequently, there are fewer of them.


To work each group properly for maximum results, we need to work them a little differently. Let me explain. An “exercise” is a series of movements that either pushes or pulls a weight through a range of motion. A “repetition” is one complete movement through that particular exercise. A “set” is a grouping of repetitions. So, each exercise is done in repetitions which are part of a set. You can work each of the muscle groups one at a time, doing one set per group, and rest for 30-60 seconds before repeating the routine. This series is called a “circuit.”


While all sets of exercise will be done in repetitions, the amount of repetitions and sets can change. For best results, each body part should be exercised 2-3 times a week but NEVER on consecutive days. The muscles require at least 24-48 hours of recovery time for optimal performance. 


Upper body muscles need to be trained at 8-15 repetitions per set for a total of 2-3 sets. Lower body muscles are trained at 8-15 repetitions per set for a total of 3-4 sets. Circuits can be repeated 3-4 times. The lower body muscles are worked harder because they are larger and can adapt to a higher load more rapidly than the upper body muscles.

To set a good training weight load, men should do 75% of the absolute maximum that they can handle for 1-3 repetitions in each exercise. Women should only use a weight that is approximately 60% of her maximum.

It’s really hard to overtrain your abdominal muscles since you use them all day in twisting, turning, and other torso movements. So, your abdominal muscles can be worked 4-7 times per week. Studies have shown that using a variety of crunching exercises is the best workout for the abdominal muscles. Do the 10 Crunch Variations listed and you’ll have rock-hard abdominals. Do 1-2 sets of 10 repetitions for each of the 10 crunches and you’ll hit every abdominal muscle. Remember to focus on proper form and the intensity of the exercise instead of the number of repetitions or sets. You will definitely feel a "burn" in the abdominal muscles on each set. Keeping your arms crossed on your chest with your hands on the opposite shoulder, you should lift only your head and shoulders up off the floor. This technique will not cause the typical pain in your neck or back.

Stretching is extremely important, both before and after a workout. It avoids injury and helps release toxins caused by the stress of working out. So make sure that you stretch to keep from aching after a workout and you’ll increase the likelihood that you’ll be back for more.

Below is a list of the most common exercises used to tone and strengthen each muscle group. Start out slowly using 1-2 exercises each for the various muscles. As you progress, add more exercises for variety and challenge.



Chest/Shoulders: Front deltoid raise, lateral deltoid raise, Bent rear deltoid raise, Dumbbell shrug, Upright row, Bench press, Flyes, Inclined press, Dumbbell pullover, Parallel dip, Cable crossover

Chin-up, Lat Pull-down, Bent barbell row, Bent one-arm dumbbell rows, Seated cable row

Arms: Biceps curl, Preacher curl, Machine curl, Cable curl, Triceps dip, Triceps pressdown, French curl


Legs/Buttocks: Squats, Lunges, Leg press, Leg extensions, Leg lifts, Leg curls, Calf raises

Abdominals: Abdominal crunches in all 10 variations, Abdominal flexor machine, Leg lifts, Leg scissors



1.                            Knees bent, feet flat on floor

2.                            Knees bent and out to sides in a frog-leg position, soles of feet flat together

3.                            Legs at 90o to body, knees bent, calves parallel to floor

4.                            Legs at 90o to body, knees bent and out to sides in a frog-leg position, soles of feet flat together

5.                            Legs at 90o to body, toes pointing to ceiling

6.                            Legs at 90o to body, toes pointing to ceiling with legs spread wide

7.                            Left leg straight and held 3” off ground, right leg bent to chest

8.                            Right leg straight and held 3” off ground, left leg bent to chest

9.                            Turn on left side, do side crunches

10.                       Turn on right side, do side crunches


This article is just a small portion of an eight week online class that I teach called ‘The Answer’s Right Under Your Nose.’ You can find out more under the Personal Coaching section of my website – www.jerryryanphd.com.

Jerry Ryan, Ph.D. is a Natural Health Coach who teaches individuals and group classes on the scientifically documented benefits of natural health techniques.  He is also an internationally published author and has been a guest speaker at such places as NIKE World Headquarters.  For more information, his website is <a target="_new" href=goto.aspx?article=1594&url="http://www.JerryRyanPhD.com">http://www.JerryRyanPhD.com</a>

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