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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts


Posted: September 19, 2012

Last week I gave you the framework for how a weight lifting program can evolve as a person gets more experienced, and more serious. This week I’d like to give you some sample programs for a couple of those stops along the way.

Keep in mind that there are countless ways to lift weights, along with countless programs. These are a few programs that I use to help people get started and are by no means the only way to do things. As you learn more and more exercises, feel free to change things up often to keep your body guessing—and growing.


The first step is often a simple circuit training program with machines. My circuit hits both your upper and lower body, working opposing muscle groups back-to-back, so one group of muscles can rest while the opposing muscle group rests, and so on.

Chest Press, Seated Row, Pec Fly, Lat Pulldown, Shoulder Press, Rear Delt, Triceps, Biceps, Leg Extension, Leg Curl, Leg Press & Calves, Back Extensions, Ab Crunches.

Someone just starting out can get a full body workout with just one pass through the circuit. Pick a starting weight that you can do at least 10 times comfortably. When you can get 15 reps, increase the weight next time. As you get stronger, do up to 3 sets of each exercise with 20-30 seconds rest (between sets) before moving on to the next one.

A more advanced way of using the circuit is to pick two opposing machines like the Chest Press and Seated Row, and alternate them back-to-back without rest, for 3 sets before moving on to the next pair of machines. Another example is alternating the Bicep and Tricep machines.


Once you decide to start lifting free weights, you’ll have taken a big step toward getting bigger and stronger. A good next step is a 3-Day split routine that breaks the body up into Pushing, Pulling, and Lower Body/Abs. By splitting things up, you can focus more attention on each area by doing more exercises for each body part.

You’ll do Pushing exercises on the first day, Pulling exercises the next day, and Lower Body and Abs on the next. At that point, you take a rest day, do some cardio, or simply start over.

Pick a weight light enough to control, but heavy enough that you feel like you’re doing something. Start with lighter weights in your first set and increase the weights a little bit in each set. Lift heavier weights for size and strength, and do higher repetitions in some exercises for more endurance.

Try to limit the rest time between sets to 30 seconds unless you’re lifting heavier weights. That will give you a cardio benefit to your workout also. Where you see two exercises together, that’s a superset, which should be done back-to-back without rest.

Once you start moving some heavier weights in your Bench Press, Squat, and Dead Lifts, you’ll need longer rest breaks. It’s normal to take up to a minute or two between sets for the heavier sets. In extreme cases—for those lifting the heaviest weights—rest breaks can be as long as five minutes.

Take your time and work up to things. Do slow and steady movements that you are controlling at all times. Don’t overdo things. If you don’t know how to do something, go online and Google them, or ask a trainer or experienced lifter in your gym.

(Chest, Shoulders & Triceps):

• 5-10 min warm-up on Schwinn AirDyne or Elliptical

• Bench Press or Dumbbell (DB) presses on a ball (4-5 sets of 8-10 reps)

• Incline Bench Press or Pec Fly Machine (3-4 sets of 10-12 reps)

• DB Lateral Raises -AND- DB Overhead Tricep Presses (3 x 10)

• Front Shoulder Raises w/bar -AND- DB Kickbacks (3 x 10)

• Single Arm Cable Tricep Pushdowns (reverse grip) (3 x 10)

• 5-10 min cool-down on Schwinn AirDyne or Elliptical

(Back & Biceps):

• 5-10 min warm-up on Schwinn AirDyne, Elliptical or Rowing Machine

• Straight Bar Dead Lifts (slightly bent knees) -AND- Wide Grip Pull-ups or Lat Pulldown machine or Assisted Pullups on Chin/Dip machine (3-4 sets of 10-12 reps)

• T-Bar Rows -AND- Preacher Curls w/EZ curl bar (3-4 sets of 8-10 reps)

• DB Hammer Curls (3-4 sets of 10-12 reps)

• DB Concentration Curls or Cable Curls (3 x 10)

• 5-10 min cool-down on Schwinn AirDyne, Elliptical or Rowing Machine

(Lower Body & Abs):

• 5-10 min warm-up on Schwinn AirDyne

• Rear Squats (5-6 sets of 8-10 reps) -AND- Leg Raises (12-15 reps)

• Leg Extension Machine -AND- Leg Curl Machine (3 sets of 10-12 reps)

• Calf Machine -AND- Cable Crunches (3 sets of 12-15 reps)

• 5-10 min cool-down on Schwinn AirDyne

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