Weight training is a type of (resistance) training to increase the strength and size of skeletal muscles primarily using bars, dumbbells and/or other equipment. Weight training is necessary for sports like bodybuilding, weightlifting and powerlifting where strength, power, and/or muscle mass are necessary. It is used in many other sports, such as football, wrestling, and rowing, in order to increase the performance of athletes and reduce the frequency and severity of injuries (Shaw et al. 2016).
Weight training has many benefits for non-athletes as well, since it can reduce the signs and symptoms of many diseases and chronic conditions including (Fiuza-Luces et al. 2013 or see references in Phillips and Winett 2010, Ciccolo et al. 2011, Fisher et al. 2011, Westcott 2012):
- Arthritis (by reducing pain and stiffness, and increasing strength and flexibility).
- Diabetes (by improving glycemic control).
- Osteoporosis (by increasing the bone mineral density).
- Heart disease (by improving the lipids profile).
- Obesity (by increasing the metabolism).
- Back pain (by strengthening back and abdominal muscles).
Increased strength also improves the capacity to perform everyday tasks more easily. Weight training is further associated with reductions in anxiety symptoms, improvements in sleep quality and improvements in self-esteem (O’Connor et al. 2010).
However, despite all the information available today (websites, social media, magazines, books) finding the right information and combining it into an efficient and practical program can be a challenging task. In extreme cases, the information can even be misleading and/or unsafe.
The objective of this book is to present a practical and efficient approach to weight training in a concise manner. The information is primarily based on scientific literature, such as books and peer-reviewed journal papers but also on practical experience with weight training. Thus, this book bridges the gap between theory and application. It is assumed that, apart from health, the main objective is to increase the muscle size (muscle hypertrophy) and consequently the strength, since other goals (increase of bone density, decrease of cholesterol, etc.) require medical tests. In these cases, one should consult medical professionals and follow their advice.
The structure of the book is as follows:
- Chapter 1 presents the proper weight training procedure: (i) evaluation of current status, (ii) setting of long- and short-term goals, (iii) design of training programs, (iv) training session, and (iv) re-evaluation of next training session.
- Chapter 2 explains in more detail how to assess the current status of a person, focusing on body and strength measurements.
- Chapter 3 gives long- and short-term targets regarding fat percentages, muscle-mass increase, strength increase, and body dimensions (for both men and women).
- Chapter 4 discusses the basics of muscle physiology, bioenergetics, adaptations, and recovery. Special emphasis is given to sleep and stress.
- Chapter 5 summarizes the scientific research on program variables such as training frequency, intensity, and volume.
- Chapter 6 analyzes the principles necessary to properly design a weight training program. These include individuality, progressive overload, and specificity. Variation and periodization are also discussed.
- Chapter 7 discusses mental preparation for training. Topics such as mental profiling, mental skills, and mental techniques are explained. Self-talk, imagery, and focus (concentration), among others, are analyzed and applied to training.
- Chapter 8 presents in detail the parts of a proper training session including warm-up, breathing, and cool-down.
- Chapter 9 discusses how to assess a training session and how to set the targets for the upcoming session.
- Chapter 10 gives a detailed numerical example combing all chapters.
- Chapter 11 concludes with some thoughts on how advanced trainees can apply the information presented.