Weight Training Tips

Weight Training Tips

I am sure many of you (like me) have spent many years in the gym getting virtually nowhere. You train hard working all your body and you end up sore and tired with results that don’t match your effort.

Two years ago I stumbled on a good book, “Brawn”, by Stuart McRobert a reputed guru of the iron game – he also wrote later books “Beyond Brawn” and “Futher Brawn.” I have only Brawn and Beyond Brawn, the later of which is a more thorough version of Brawn but is dis-jointed and padded, and is not as good a book. Stuart basically says to get big you have to focus on the big compound exercises. A compound exercise is a type of exercise that involves several muscle groups at a time. The great advantage of compound exercises is that you can do a whole body workout just by doing a few exercises in a relatively short period of time. Compound exercises are great strength and mass builders and these should be the basis of your workouts. Only when you have made yourself big do you then turn your attention to more isolation exercises for muscular balance and symmetry.

Stuart emphasizes that significant focus should be on either the squat, deadlift or trap-bar deadlift - sometimes called a squat-lift, for which you need access to a trap bar. Either of these three exercises are fantastic at developing your core strength. A strong core activates/enables strength (size) gains for the rest of your body as long as you exercise those areas effectively with the other big compound exercises. The seven big compound exercises are:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench press
  • Dips
  • Pull up
  • Bent-over rows
  • Shoulder press (or military press)

If you do just these you will get a near total body workout – throw in a couple of important additional secondary (isolation) exercises and you get a total body workout. Here I need to stress that you should NOT do all these exercises in the same workout! It is best to split them up throughout a week – more on this later.

Each of these compound exercises involves the action of a lot of musculature, for example the bench press works your chest (pecs), shoulders and triceps simultaneously, and as long as you use free-weights (barbell or dumbbells) other muscles that control the path of the weight are involved too.

If you have heard of the squat before you may have heard that it is a knee-wrecker. Well, if you use correct form and build up the weight sensibly you can squat safely and, if anything, the squat can actually strengthen your knee structure. If you exercise alone a power rack will enable you to train to the max in safety. The squat (done properly) is a very hard exercise and requires a lot of effort with some very deep breathing, and the only people that say negative things about the squat are those that have found it too hard OR have done it incorrectly. Attention to performing these exercises with CORRECT FORM is very important. If you use bad from you will hurt yourself. Again our old friend Stuart McRobert comes to our aid with another of his books – “The Insider's Tell-All Handbook on Weight-training Technique.” I bought this book at the same time as I bought Brawn, purely based on the results of the reviews at Amazon. The Insider's Tell-All Handbook on Weight-training Technique book details many exercises and their variations and is an essential book.

Okay, so you now know which exercises to focus your attention on, when do you do them? Well each muscle group should really be exercised once per week maximum and you need to avoid overlap where possible. Overlap would be, say, doing the shoulder press on a Monday and the bench press on a Wednesday – your shoulder and triceps would very likely still be sore on Wednesday and compromise the intensity of the bench press. Further, as the dips and the bench press work the same muscles (though in a slightly different way) then you should choose just one of them. You can alternate them during different phases and this is a good idea as your body soon adapts to an exercise regimen. Alternatively you could do something like I do as described in my Bench or Dips article.

The area that is very probably equally important (and often over looked) to the exercises that you perform is the food that you eat. For now I cover this very briefly in my Eating for Mass article.

For your information my weekly workouts (which have evolved over two years) are:


  • Calf Raises
  • Reverse Crunches
  • Shoulder Press
  • Reverse Push ups (I do this for shoulder joint balance – see the Rotator Cuff article)
  • Squats


  • Side Bends
  • Pull Ups
  • Bent-Over Rows
  • Curls (I can’t NOT do these – perhaps the most important single exercise ever – joke!)
  • Shrugs (using my trap-bar)


  • Crunches
  • Dips
  • Bench Press (Yes – I know I said only do ONE of these – but read my Bench or Dips article)
  • Pullovers
  • Skull Crushers (just for the hell of it – after all the tricep IS more important than the bicep)

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Muscle Gaining Secrets
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