Not all general strength-training programs are created equal. If you’re hunting for a great program or you’re wondering how your current program stacks up, you’ll want to be sure you have a few key components covered.
Here are four components to include in your strength-training program:
1. THE RIGHT FREQUENCY
If you want to make consistent progress, you have to lift often enough to keep challenging your muscles, but not so often that your muscles never get the chance to recover and grow back stronger.
For those following a general strength-training program, 3–4 days of strength training per week is the ideal frequency for a general strength program. If you’re a beginner — or you have limited time to train — you may want to start with three days per week and add a fourth day once you’ve built a good base.
If you’re following the three-day model, you may choose to structure your workouts in one of two different ways — either three full-body workouts per week or one full-body, one upper-body and one lower-body workout per week.
The benefit of the former approach is it’s often more enjoyable, as people typically prefer training one muscle group over the other, says Mark Schneider, a Minneapolis-based personal trainer and general manager of The Movement Minneapolis. When you stick to full-body workouts, you’re guaranteed every session will have at least one exercise you can look forward to.
Meanwhile, the benefit of splitting up your workouts according to focus (upper-body, lower-body, full-body) is you’re able to give your muscles more time to recover before hitting them again. “The upper- and lower-body split ends up being easier to build volume on,” Schneider says. In other words, you can typic