I recently joined a gym with a weight training room. (A pool center; for a little extra, you can use the weight training gym.) I got one free session with one of the athletic trainers, to show me how to use the equipment. (The deal that Planet Fitness offers you sounds even better – unlimited use of the trainer’s group lessons, and unlimited private training if you come when he isn’t busy. Too bad they don’t do aerobic training classes too.) At my prompting, he gave me his take on methods of weight training, and attaining athletic goals.
I'd like your comments on his opinions!
1. Most people who join gyms hardly ever come. I already knew this from several other sources: It's a major part of the economics that makes gyms economically viable. (Just like most people who buy exercise machines hardly ever use them, after the first few weeks.)
2. Most people who do come often don't achieve their athletic goals, because they train inefficient. It is most effective to do exercises and weight training more often and differently than most of the experts say. Experts emphasize safety over athletic goals, to avoid legal suits. What they tell you is fairly safe for almost everyone to do, with a wide range of anatomies and physiologies, but is largely ineffective for most people.
3. Gyms and exercise machines are run and marketed by people who emphasize making money for themselves over the athletic goals of their customers, even relatively inexpensive local-government-run gyms like the one I joined.
(You don’t need to go to a gym to do what he says, once you have figured out what you need to do.)
4. Experts suggest weight training about 3 times a week. They say to pick the amount of weight so you can do sets of 8 repetitions at a time, and to do 3 sets, resting between. Based on his experience, that isn't enough for most people to attain their athletic goals.
5. Different people benefit best from different regimens, but it is better for most people to train at least twice a day. In addition, it is better to pick smaller weights, but to use higher repetitions, and more sets. About 50 repetitions per set works better for most people. More sets train you more effectively, and the smaller weight lets you use full range of motion, rather than just the range over which your muscles are strong enough to work against larger weights. Higher weights do train different muscle fibers, and if you want to push strength to your limits, you can do that too, but more repetitions should form the basic core of your training.
(Obviously more frequent training, and higher repetitions take more time. But if you make more effective use of your time as described below, and you eventually do stuff at home rather than travelling to a gym, perhaps you can make it up.)
6. Rather than resting between sets, it is a more effective use of your time to better to alternate between exercising different parts of your body (e.g., upper, lower).
7. Free weights are a much more effective use of your time than weight training machines. (I heard something before from another trainer, who had a military background, but thought that he was an outlier.) Trainers don't normally say that, because they mostly work through gyms that profit by convincing them that they need many expensive weight training machines, for which they must join a gym, but I was prompting him for the results of his experience.
8. Free weights train more of your body than weight machines, because weight machines limit your motion too much. (The other trainer told me that weight machines are very good for people recovering from an injury, and who have to be careful of the way they move, for the same reasons.)
9. Free weights let you exercise more things at once, making more effective use of your time. For the most part, weight training machines only exercise one part of your body at a time. I found a cool on-line example of an exercise routine using this: http://www.vitalityadvocate.com/2016/27-minute-full-body-burner/
(I notice that most exercise machines don't fit my small body very well. People in gyms also waste a lot of time adjusting each machine to try to fit their bodies.)
10. Use exercises of similar motions in different orientations (e.g., standing, lying down), to use different muscles in different ways.
I showed him something I had tried, where instead of laying down flat on a surface, I rotated so that I started my dumbbell lift below the plane of the surface I was lying on, and he said that was quite common - but that I should be careful not to hurt myself when trying out alternate orientations at first.
11. He didn’t mention this, but I think it helps to look at different exercise machines, and figure out how to exercise similar muscle groups using free weights, bands, similar simple gear or using body weight alone.
I found a number of examples of free weight exercises on the Internet: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_weight_training_exercises http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/weight-training/sls-20076904 http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/dumbbellexercises.html
12. You can't strengthen everything with free weights alone. For example,
A. [Assisted] pull-ups. (I have so far found these to be the most effective ways of exercising my upper core muscles.) You need something above you to hang onto. (I'm not strong enough to do a real pull up, so I am using an assisted pull up machine in the gym; if you do use a gym, I suggest you pick one that has such a machine. But for home use, you could hang a strong bungee cord from something high, or use something a bit closer to the ground, and keep your feet on the ground to help, or maybe use something like a broom, which you can plant on the ground, and hang on to while using your feet and legs to help - though the hand position is wrong.)
B. Running. I've been jogging, but that only uses my lowest core muscles. I tried jogging with high steps, but that still omits upper core muscles. He said running, including full arm swings, uses the whole core.
C. Stretching. He stretches a lot, multiple times per day, and says you should stretch more often if you weight train, because that reduces flexibility.
D. It helps to roll out your muscles, to loosen them before training and stretching. I've seen skaters do this with sticks, they run along their muscles, and have seen videos do this by rolling their body above a foam cylinder. He rolled across one of the inflated balls they had at the gym to do the same thing.
C. Standing on balance half-balls, likehttp://www.power-systems.com/p-4440-bosu-pro-balance-trainer.aspx?varid=8513&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=&utm_medium=cpc&utm_content=s2RkgUCF1_pcrid_92473286412_pdv_c&gclid=CO7J7qT7-s8CFcpbhgody-oHhg
I had asked him whether it was all right that my body shakes when standing on these things. (I stand on the flat surface, and place the round surface on the floor.) He said shaking is OK, but would partly disappear when I got stronger core muscles. I tried standing with the flat surface horizontal, as well as tilting and rotating the tilt - he said those were typical exercises. I've also tried dance-like routines with my upper body while using my lower body to stabilize the half-ball.)
So, how do you folks feel about his comments?