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Dr. C: Okay, let's get to your first exercise, the Squatting Shoulder Press. Lift the barbell to the level of your chest as you did when testing the weight.
First, I want you to bend your knees into a "mini squat," as if you were going to jump a few inches off the ground. Now, using your legs and your arms, push the barbell straight up into the air so that your arms are as straight as possible. This movement should take one to two seconds to perform. You can stand on your toes if it helps, but DO NOT leave the ground. Now, over a four second period return the barbell to your chest, or the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of this exercise.
1. Allow a 1-2 minute rest period between sets.
2. Always breathe out when you push the barbell up in the air.
3. Keep your back straight during this exercise.
4. Don't lift a weight that is too heavy, especially this first day.
Dr. H.: Is it better to do all three sets of a particular exercise at once and then move on, or should I do each exercise in turn until all of them are done and then go back through the cycle again?
Dr. C.: During a basic workout, it is best to do all three sets of a particular exercise before advancing to the next one. This is the rule because only tired, well-worked muscles become larger.
Now, there is a type of workout called circuit training. In this format, you would perform a set of one exercise, then perform a set of another exercise and continue rotating until you have completed one set of each exercise. Then, you would start over and perform a second set, then third. The catch to circuit training is that you don't get a break between exercises, because the next exercise should not be focused on the same muscle group. Therefore, the muscle group that you just worked is resting. It's a great way to increase muscular and cardiovascular endurance, but isn't the best to build muscle strength or size. I recommend that beginners get comfortable with proper technique before advancing to circuit training.
If you can perform 3 sets of 12 reps, increase the weight the next time you perform this exercise. In other words, you should not be able to do more than 12 reps in the second or third set. If you are, the weight is too light. If you can't perform at least 8 in the first or second set the weight is too heavy.
For your second exercise, we want to focus on the upper body, since increasing upper body strength and muscle size is your goal. We still want to focus on exercising the large muscles first. Let's go with the Pectoral Fly, which is a great exercise for your chest and biceps.
To perform this exercise you will need a pair of dumbbells, a bench and a spotter, or someone who can help you lift the weight. A spotter can be a workout partner, someone that works for the gym or a random person that is willing to help.
Because this is your first time performing this exercise, you need to determine the proper weight. Find the dumbbell rack in your gym, pick up two 10 lbs. dumbbells and put them near the bench. Lay down on the bench with your feet flat on the ground. Put both hands straight up in the air with your palms facing up. Ask your spotter to place both dumbbells in your hands. Hold the dumbbells straight up in the air with your palms facing each other.
Now, in a controlled motion, let your arms slowly fall to the side with a slight bend in your elbows, as if you are making a big circle. Ask your partner to stay close in case you need help. Continue to let your arms fall to the side until your arms are even with your chest, or until you can't let them fall to the side anymore. Keeping your arms slightly bent, return the weight to the starting position over a 4 second period. Repeat this motion once more. If you can do more than 10 repetitions with 10 lbs. you should increase the weight to 15 or 20 lbs. Continue performing this test until you find a weight that will allow you to perform about 10 repetitions. Ask your spotter to grab the weight your hands when you complete each set. Perform 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.
1. Allow a 1-2 minute break between sets.
Always keep your elbows slightly bent.
2. Breathe out when pushing the weight back to the starting position.
3. Don't lift a weight that is too heavy, especially this first day.
4. f you can perform 3 sets of 12 reps, increase the weight the next time you perform this exercise. In other words, you should not be able to do more than 12 reps in the second or third set. If you are, the weight is too light. If you can't perform at least 8 in the first or second set the weight is too heavy.
Dr. C.: Here are the other exercises for you to do in the first week.
Calf Raises 2 sets 20- 25 reps, fast pace, no weight.
Dr. H. comments: This was good and tougher than I thought it would be. I wasn't sure how close to stand to the wall. I did tuck the lifted leg behind my knee and that gave me a lot more stability.
Bicep Curls with Barbell, 3 sets 8-12 reps
Dr. H. comments: OK, even I could do this one...
Tricep Dips - do 3 sets until you burn out.
Dr. H. comments: I enjoyed this but was a bit unsure of how far apart my shoulders should be.
Reverse Flys - do 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Dr. H.: I found this pretty difficult at even a low weight of 10 lbs. and didn't feel that I got full range of motion on the outstretch. Should I drop down to 8 lbs.?
Pilates Crunches - do 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Dr. H. comments: It was really nice to sit down for a bit.
Finish with Shoulder Circles with Dumbbells - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Dr. H.: Next week I'll report on my progress.
Eat well, eat healthy, exercise and enjoy life!
Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.