6-Week Strength Training Program

Strength training may be way outside your comfort zone, but that’s where the best things happen. Make a promise to yourself that you will follow through to the end of the six weeks and carry your newfound knowledge forward. Of course, you cannot get strong overnight, but if you stick with it, you will get a stronger, more functional body.

The most important weight training principle is this: Choose a weight that creates a real effort by the last couple of repetitions. You must work to get those last reps finished, or your body will not get stronger. Simply going through the motions will get you nowhere. However, we never want to sacrifice proper form for those last repetitions. If you find yourself using momentum or incorporating muscles other than the ones you’re targeting, it’s time to stop that set. It’s important to use controlled motions in all phases of any exercise.

I suggest you keep a record of the weights you’re using for each exercise. It will allow you to see the number increase over time and will give you an undeniable sense of accomplishment.

You’ll notice that I’ve recommended doing two sets of each exercise for the first two weeks and increased to three sets from the third week onward. I’ve found that three sets of 10 to 12 reps is a well-rounded and sustainable way to train for almost everyone. However, if you find three sets is a little too much, stay with two sets until you feel that you are ready to add another.

I am truly excited for you and this path you’ve chosen. Strength training is one of the best things we can do for our health and for ourselves.

Week 1

This week will lay the foundation for the weeks to come. We will be working out two to three days this week. Choose whether you will be working out at home or in a gym, and then follow the exercise program that pertains to your choice. If you dedicate yourself to each rep and set, I promise you will begin to grow stronger and you will feel the difference.

WEEK 1: HOME WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose two to three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 35 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: These should be bodyweight exercises. No equipment is needed until week 2. Two sets of 12 repetitions (both sides) with 1-minute rest between sets.

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here

  • Bodyweight Chair Squats Or (More Challenging) Single-leg Squat To Chair
  • Split Squats (With Bodyweight Or Dumbbells)
  • Push-up From Knees
  • Bird Dog
  • Triceps Dip From Chair With Bent Legs
  • 15-second Forearm Plank

WEEK 1: GYM WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose two to three days for this week’s workout with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 35 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Two sets of 12 reps (both sides). One-minute rest between sets. 

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here

BODYWEIGHT SQUATS WITH STABILITY BALL (add dumbbells if bodyweight is too easy)

GLUTE BRIDGE OR HAMSTRING CURL MACHINE

BIRD DOG

PUSH-UP FROM KNEES OR CHEST PRESS MACHINE

STANDING BICEP CURL WITH DUMBBELLS OR SMALL BARBELL

15- TO 30-SECOND FOREARM PLANK

SELF CHECK-IN WORKSHEET

  1. How motivated was I to complete the fitness program each day? Is there anything I could do differently to improve my motivation?

» Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed with your fitness goals.

  1. Did I notice any changes in appetite this week? (Was I hungrier/less hungry?) » Did I crave any different foods than normal? Many people find that keeping a food journal helps keep them on track with nutrition.
  2. Did I make a conscious effort to drink more water?

» Many people find that carrying a water bottle will ensure that they get into the habit of drinking more water.

  1. Did I make an effort to get more sleep? Was my sleep of better, the same, or worse quality?

» Science shows that a bedtime routine will set you up for a better night’s sleep.

  1. Did I find that some of the exercises were too challenging or too easy?

» If too challenging, do only as many repetitions as you comfortably can and build to 10 to 12 over time as you adapt. If too easy, add weight or do the more advanced version if one was given.

Week 2

By this week you will need at least two to three dumbbells or two to three resistance bands of various strengths for your home workout. You can find resistance bands online or in your local sporting goods store.

It is difficult to advise as to the specific weight or strength of those dumbbells and bands, but in general, I suggest the following guidelines for men and women who have never lifted weights before:

For a woman under 55 years: 5 lb, 8 lb, and 12/15 lb dumbbells For a man under 55 years: 8 lb, 10 lb, and 15/20 lb dumbbells For a woman over 55 years: 3/5 lb, 8 lb, and 10 lb dumbbells For a man over 55 years: 5 lb, 10 lb, and 12 lb dumbbells

WEEK 2: HOME WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 35 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Bodyweight, dumbbells, and bands. Two sets of 12 repetitions (both sides) with 1 minute rest between sets.

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Bodyweight Squats Or (More Challenging) Squats With Resistance Band
  • Split Squat With Bicep Curl
  • Resistance Band Rows Or Bent-over Row
  • Chest Press With Dumbbells Or Lying Band Chest Press
  • Pull-aparts
  • Lateral Shoulder Raise With Resistance Band Or Lateral Raise With Dumbbells

WEEK 2: GYM WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 35 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Dumbbells and machines. Two sets of 12 repetitions (both sides) with 1 minute rest between sets.

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here

  • Bodyweight Sumo Squats With Stability Ball Or Dumbbell Sumo Squats With Stability Ball
  • Split Squat With Bicep Curl
  • Standing Or Seated Overhead
  • Lat Pull-down Machine Or Seated Row On Fixed Machine
  • Seated Cable Row
  • Chest Press With Dumbbells

SELF CHECK-IN WORKSHEET

  1. How motivated was I to exercise compared to last week? Was I looking forward to working out?

» Continue to surround yourself with people who want you to succeed with your fitness goals. Perhaps go back to the beginning of this program and remind yourself why it’s so important to keep our bodies strong.

  1. Did I notice any changes in appetite this week? Did I find that I am more aware of what I’m eating?

» If you’ve started a food journal, try to keep it up to date. It’s one of the best tools for making us more aware of what we are actually eating.

  1. Am I keeping on top of my water intake? If not, is there anything I can do to help me drink more water?

» Keeping water with you at all times may help. Some people like to flavor their water with lemon wedges or cucumber slices.

  1. How is my energy level? Am I getting enough sleep? Has my energy level changed since I’ve started strength training?

» Be sure you’re getting all the quality sleep that you need.

  1. Am I able to follow the exercise instructions well enough to feel like I’m

doing them properly?

» It may be a good idea to look over the exercises on a no-exercise day to be sure you understand how to do them.

Week 3

Again, we will be working out three days this week, and doing two sets of each exercise, with a minute in between sets. Be sure you are fatiguing the working muscles with the 12-repetition 

range by choosing the appropriate weight or resistance, whether at home or in the gym.

To increase the weight on machines, simply add another weight plate to the stack. Some machines have the option of increasing by 5 lb increments. This is a safe way to start.

For the home workouts, we will be working with body weight, dumbbells, and resistance bands. To increase resistance with dumbbells, choose a heavier dumbbell. For resistance bands, either choose a heavier band, or adjust your grasp to shorten the amount of band being used. Don’t forget to have fun!

WEEK 3: HOME WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 35 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Bodyweight, dumbbells, and bands. Three sets of 12 repetitions (both sides) with 1 minute rest between sets.

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Reverse Lunge With Bicep Curl
  • Dumbbell Calf Raises
  • Bent-over Row With Resistance Bands Or Bent-over Row With Dumbbells
  • Push-up From Knees Or (More Challenging) Push-up From Chair
  • Standing Overhead Press With Light Resistance Band Or Standing Or Seated Overhead Press With Dumbbells
  • Single-arm Triceps Kickback With Light Dumbbell

WEEK 3: GYM WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 35 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Dumbbells and machines. Three sets of 12 repetitions (both sides) with 1 minute rest between sets.

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Squats With Overhead Press
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Lat Pull-down Machine
  • Seated Cable Row On Machine Or Seated Row On Fixed Machine
  • Chest Press With Dumbbells
  • Lateral Shoulder Raise With Dumbbells (You May Also Do These Seated On A Stability Ball Or Weight Bench)

SELF CHECK-IN WORKSHEET

  1. Am I putting enough effort into each exercise, so that those last couple of repetitions are hard work?

» Let yourself be at least a little bit uncomfortable. It’s not supposed to be easy.

  1. How do I feel just prior to working out as opposed to just after?

» We often say that no one ever said, “I wish I didn’t do that workout!”

  1. Am I keeping a record of my workout weights?

» It is very motivational to see the numbers increase even a little.

  1. Do I find myself focusing too much on the scale?

» Remember that we are focusing on strength. I often tell my clients that if we

focus on getting stronger, everything else will just naturally follow.

  1. Do I find myself more aware of my body? Do I feel like I’m aware of muscles I didn’t know I had?

» One of the great things about strength training is that we become more aware of our bodies and how we move.

Week 4

We will be working out three days this week and increasing to three sets of each exercise, with 45 to 60 seconds of rest between sets. Be sure you are fatiguing the working muscles with the 12-repetition range. If you find three sets are too challenging this week, no problem. Continue with two sets this week and try for three sets next week.

Work out with more intensity this week. If using dumbbells, try increasing the weight. If using bands, try increasing the resistance by adjusting the amount of play you have with the band. Also attempt all the exercises without modifications. It’s not supposed to be easy. Don’t be afraid of having to work hard for those last couple of repetitions without losing form. Always maintain control of the weight and movement. If you find you’re losing control, it’s time to stop that set.

OK, it’s week FOUR. We’re halfway there. You’re AMAZING!

WEEK 4: HOME WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 45 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Bodyweight, dumbbells, and bands. Three sets of 12 repetitions (both sides) with 45 seconds of rest between sets.

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Squats With Overhead Press
  • Lateral Lunge With Bicep Curl
  • Romanian Deadlift With Resistance Bands Or Dumbbells
  • Bent-over Row With Dumbbells Or Resistance Band
  • Push-up From Chair
  • Pull-aparts

WEEK 4: GYM WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 45 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Dumbbells and machines. Three sets of 12 repetitions (both sides) with 45 seconds of rest between sets.

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Leg Press Machine
  • Calf Raises On Leg Press Machine (Be Sure To Increase The Weight From Week 1 Superset [Leg Press/Calf Raise, Leg Press/Calf Raise ])
  • (Non-machine Alternative) Squat To Calf Raise
  • Single-leg Glute Bridge
  • If Single-leg Is Too Challenging, Do Glute Bridge With Two Feet On The Floor
  • Single-arm Triceps Kickback
  • Incline Chest Press
  • Bicep Curl To Shoulder Press
  • Triceps Dip On Bench (Try To Extend Legs In Front Of You For More Of A Challenge)

SELF CHECK-IN WORKSHEET

  1. Do I notice how sleep, or lack thereof, affects my strength and endurance?

» Sleep has a significant impact on muscle recovery. If you don’t get enough sleep, you’re not going to feel rested in the morning, and your muscles will not recover properly.

  1. How has my strength training affected my appetite?

» Many people report that they are hungrier when they strength train, but the

types of food they crave are generally healthier options.

  1. Am I finding myself researching (on social media, YouTube, etc.) more about strength training? Am I talking to my family and friends about strength training?

» The more you know, the more reasons you’ll find to keep it up. I recommend Jeff Cavaliere (AthleanX.com) on YouTube for the best strength training advice.

  1. Do I find on days that I exercise, I crave more water?

» You know that growing muscles require lots of protein, but they need even more water.

Week 5

This week we will complete three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for each exercise, with about 45 seconds of rest between sets, whether exercising at home or in the gym. The lower rep range should enable you to increase the weight or resistance a little. If you cannot increase the weight, slow the motion down. I will talk more about that in week 6.

I invite you to look at the core (abdominal and lower back) exercises, to familiarize yourself with them. We do engage our core muscles while strength training, even while focusing on other muscle groups, but some of us feel the need to add core-specific exercises to our workouts. I suggest choosing one or two of the core exercises and incorporating them into your strength training regime this week or doing them on alternate days.

Here we are in week FIVE. Give yourself a pat on the back. You deserve it!

WEEK 5: HOME WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 45 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Bodyweight, dumbbells, and bands. Three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions (both sides) with 45 seconds of rest between sets. Increase the weight if you can. Include one set each of two core exercises this week, whether on workout days or alternate days (see here).

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Lateral Lunge With Bicep Curl
  • Dumbbell Squats
  • Dumbbell Calf Raises
  • Chest Press With Dumbbells Or Push-ups From Toes With Rest At The Bottom
  • Standing Or Seated Overhead Press With Dumbbells
  • Single-arm Triceps Kickback With Dumbbell Or Resistance Band

WEEK 5: GYM WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 45 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Dumbbells and machines. Three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions (both sides) with 45 seconds of rest between sets. Increase the weight if you can. Include one set each of two core exercises this week, whether on workout days or alternate days (see here).

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here

  • Single-leg Squat To Bench
  • Dumbbell Squats (If Single Leg Is Too Challenging)
  • Reverse Lunge With Bicep Curl
  • Single-leg Deadlift
  • Lat Pull-down Machine
  • Incline Chest Press On Bench
  • Lateral Shoulder Raise With Dumbbells

SELF CHECK-IN WORKSHEET

  1. Did I exercise with as much intensity as I could have?

» If not, was it lack of energy? Or was I lacking motivation? It’s important to get proper rest and nutrition so that we have the physical energy to exercise. Otherwise any excuse will do.

  1. Did I set and maintain high standards for myself with my nutrition this week?

» If not, was it because of a lack of worthy examples? If so, seek inspiration. What similar feats of accomplishment have inspired you in the past? What standards did those people set for themselves?

  1. Was I sure to carve out enough time in my day to exercise? Did I plan my day ahead so that I was sure to allow time to exercise?

» Using time efficiently is a skill that is acquired over time. It takes practice and discipline to learn how to use your time wisely, but if we want something bad enough, we will make time. It comes down to what is truly important to you.

  1. Was I able to regulate procrastination, distractions, and temptations in order to stay on track with sleep, nutrition, and exercise?

» For me, being successful with my strength training is about making my health and well-being a priority. There will be some trial and error at first, until you strike the right balance.

Week 6

You have made it to week 6! I want to sincerely express just how proud I am of you. This week we will continue working within the 10 to 12 repetitions with a short rest: no more than 45 seconds between sets. At the risk of repeating myself, I want to remind you to choose a weight that challenges the muscles within that rep range. This is how we get stronger.

In this last week, we are focusing on the intensity of our workouts. It’s a fact that building strength has more to do with intensity than simply going through the motions. We will now pay attention to something known as “time under tension,” or TUT, which is commonly used in more advanced strength training.

How do we incorporate “time under tension”? Easy, just go slower. Focus on the muscles you’re using and take your time.

WEEK 6: HOME WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Schedule three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 45 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Bodyweight, dumbbells, and bands. Three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions (both sides) with a maximum of 45 seconds of rest between sets. Increase the weight if you can. Focus on time under tension. Include one set each of two core exercises this week, whether on workout days or alternate days (see here).

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Squat To Calf Raise
  • Single-leg Glute Bridge
  • Floor Push-up From Knees
  • Chair Push-up With Straight Legs
  • Pull-aparts With Resistance Band
  • Bicep Curl To Shoulder Press
  • Standing Overhead Triceps Extension With Either A Heavier Single Dumbbell Or One In Each Hand

WEEK 6: GYM WORKOUT

Day of the Week: Choose three days for this week’s workout, with a day of rest between workouts.

Approximate Workout Time: 45 minutes (including 5-minute warm-up and 10- minute cooldown)

Overview: Dumbbells and machines. Three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions (both sides) with 45 seconds of rest between sets. Increase the weight if you can. Focus on time under tension. Include one set each of two core exercises this week, whether on workout days or alternate days (see here).

Reminder: Warm-up, here; Cooldown, here 

  • Walking Lunges
  • Sumo Squats With Front Shoulder Raise
  • Hamstring Roll-in With Stability Ball
  • Seated Row (Either On Cable Machine Or Fixed Machine) (Be Sure To Increase The Weight From Week 3)
  • Chest Press Machine (Be Sure To Increase The Weight From Week 1)
  • Standing Bicep Curl With Dumbbells Or Small Barbell

SELF CHECK-IN WORKSHEET

  1. What is the biggest lesson I learned about myself these past six weeks?

» Oftentimes, we learn the most important lessons about ourselves when we

step outside of our comfort zones.

  1. Which seems more favorable to me: the pain of effort and discipline, or the pain of regret?

» I love the expression “I’d rather have a bunch of ‘Oh wells’ than a bunch of ‘If onlys.’” In other words, go for it!

  1. Am I proud of my efforts?

» The payoff is always worthwhile when we follow through with something, especially if it is something new and unfamiliar. The most fulfilling reward is renewed confidence in ourselves.

  1. Am I truly ready to accept sustainable change in my life?

» No change will happen if we are not mentally prepared. We must be willing to let go of old habits that are keeping us stuck in old ways that no longer serve us.

Do You Have to Take Supplements with Strength Training?

Strength training boosts fat loss by enhancing both the afterburn after exercise and increasing muscle size, thus increasing resting metabolism.

Some people might also use natural fat burners as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle to increase metabolism or decrease appetite. When combined with a healthy diet, it will further increase the loss of excess body fat – and may also have other beneficial effects.

Resurge is of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews because the supplement industry is rife with scams.

Besides, it should be noted that supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. Pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise.

In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications or have any health concerns.

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