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  1. #1
    Registered User shannonj18's Avatar
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    Smile Beginner question

    Hi, new poster and completely new to lifting weights. I'm 45, and not very strong, so I decided to start lifting to gain some strength and for maintenance of muscle mass as we age.

    I have been looking online for workouts, and I see many suggest, for example, X reps, rest, repeat for 3 sets. Then move one to the next exercise. My question is, what is the reason to structure a workout like this rather than, say, X reps exercise 1, X exercise 2, complete a cycle, then go back to exercise 1. Something like what is shown here: [the board doesn' let me post a link, but I'm referring to a video called '15 Minute Beginner Weight Training - Easy Exercises - HASfit'.

    In this video, the trainer does bent over rows, followed by goblet squats, then by overhead presses, etc, then repeats the cycle, without a pause.

    (I believe that is called a circuit?)

    I would imagine that by rotating among exercises without a break, as this trainer does, one allows the muscle groups to recover while you exercise another group, save time and also gain some endurance. isn't this 'better' than takign a break and repeating another set of the same exercise?

    Thank you in advance for any information!
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    No Huevos katya422's Avatar
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    Well it might be more time efficient, and there isn't anything wrong with it if properly executed.

    If you are using a gym that is busy though it may be impractical to tie up multiple pieces of equipment which others may also wish to use.

    Circuit training was kind of a thing in the early 90s for a minute. I think the only gyms really known for it now are Curves and maybe Planet Fitness...not sure on that second one.

    A super set - switching between two exercises - is another variation. Or just a "working" rest period where a trainee would use the rest time to do a little cardio or core training.

    You might want to start out by considering what equipment you have access to and what your current abilities are to help you choose a program.
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  3. #3
    Manlets gonna make it Natty1980's Avatar
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    You have many muscles but only one heart, 5 liters of blood, 2 lungs and one nervous system.
    I have tried the circuit training in the past and found it unsatisfactory. I want to push my muscles to a max effort and feel them pump and burn, and to do this I need rest and focus on a single group.
    The circuit training may be an efficient, time saving type of workout for beginners (as the video you refer says) but on the long term, when you are advanced, your muscles need something more to progress.
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    Registered User metalbabble's Avatar
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    It's not everyone's goal to build big muscles.

    Circuit training is great for training for events like Spartan races and Tough Mudder. I sometimes feel like threads treat functional fitness like it isn't a thing.
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    Registered User grubman's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by metalbabble View Post
    It's not everyone's goal to build big muscles.

    Circuit training is great for training for events like Spartan races and Tough Mudder. I sometimes feel like threads treat functional fitness like it isn't a thing.
    You do realize this is a bodybuilding forum...right? I would think the site name gives it away.

    No problem with general fitness and excerciseing for that purpose...but this site is primarily for people who want to increase muscle size and/or strength, so the majority of responses will be from that perspective.

    OP...depends on your goals. If you are looking to gain/retain quality muscle and strength as you age, you need to stimulate the muscles by doing a little MORE than they are used to doing (as in a good progressive resistance weight training program). Circuit training is generally for general heath (healthy heart, joints, ect). Your basically “just” moving, doing what anyone’s body is EXPECTED to do...but rarely does in this day and age.

    Nothing wrong with that, if you just want to be “normal”. If you want people to say, “man you look good for your age”, and you want to feel 10 years younger, you’ll have to do something a little more aggressive.

    Good luck.
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  6. #6
    Registered User shannonj18's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your help!
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  7. #7
    I can do this all day Farley1324's Avatar
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    When things start to get heavy, it's good to completely warm up the muscles that will primarily be doing the work, and keep them that way. Spending time on unrelated exercises, movements, and muscles is not as good at that.

    When things get heavy and difficult, you may benefit from getting 'in the groove' with a specific movement from warmups through the multiple working sets, without disrupting it and yourself with different unrelated movements.

    When it's heavy, as it will be eventually for strength training, you want that rest between sets to be rest in order to maximize your ability to do work on that next set(s), and if you are exerting yourself at other stuff, well, that's not rest...and if you take those longer rests and recoveries between every set when supersetting, you won't get back to the same exercise for awhile, and may have cooled down a bit and lost your groove.


    That's not always the case, even for strength training...it generally is for lower body, but you might find yourself doing a two exercise superset on upper body, like bench and rows, or bicep curls and triceps extensions, but even then, it's mostly done to save time and not for performance purposes (can be good for really getting warmed up initially)


    Originally Posted by metalbabble View Post
    It's not everyone's goal to build big muscles.

    Circuit training is great for training for events like Spartan races and Tough Mudder. I sometimes feel like threads treat functional fitness like it isn't a thing.
    This is a bodybuilding website where the original poster specifically states

    "I decided to start lifting to gain some strength and for maintenance of muscle mass"
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  8. #8
    Registered User shannonj18's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Farley1324 View Post
    When things start to get heavy, it's good to completely warm up the muscles that will primarily be doing the work, and keep them that way. Spending time on unrelated exercises, movements, and muscles is not as good at that.

    When things get heavy and difficult, you may benefit from getting 'in the groove' with a specific movement from warmups through the multiple working sets, without disrupting it and yourself with different unrelated movements.

    When it's heavy, as it will be eventually for strength training, you want that rest between sets to be rest in order to maximize your ability to do work on that next set(s), and if you are exerting yourself at other stuff, well, that's not rest...and if you take those longer rests and recoveries between every set when supersetting, you won't get back to the same exercise for awhile, and may have cooled down a bit and lost your groove.


    That's not always the case, even for strength training...it generally is for lower body, but you might find yourself doing a two exercise superset on upper body, like bench and rows, or bicep curls and triceps extensions, but even then, it's mostly done to save time and not for performance purposes (can be good for really getting warmed up initially)

    This is a bodybuilding website where the original poster specifically states

    "I decided to start lifting to gain some strength and for maintenance of muscle mass"
    Farley1234, thanks for the explanation on the role of rest. I understand now why things are done the way they are. Since I'm here, I am training at home with a pair of dumbbells, are these good for the goal I'm aiming for? I just started, but nevertheless a friend is strongly suggesting I do stronglifts.

    Also if anyone has recommendations for a full body workout that I can do at home with dumbbells, that will be great. I find many online, but I find them to be quite complicated, while I am looking for something simple that I can do twice/week (can't do more, for now)
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    No Huevos katya422's Avatar
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    If you are currently limited to training at home with one pair of dumbbells then you may actually do well with a circuit to begin. To increase the amount of muscle you need to increase the stimulation, meaning either lifting heavier weights (doesn't sound like an immediate option) or doing more repetitions.

    Nerd fitness is overall more focused on weight loss and fitness:
    https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/beg...-build-muscle/

    There are a few different "prisoner workouts" that are designed for people with limited space and equipment.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=pris...hrome&ie=UTF-8

    Bret Contreras is known for female centered workouts that focus more on building the lower body while keeping the waist tight and with a varied level of upper body development depending on how you run his programs. There is a book called Strong Curves, but he also has a good amount of online content.

    https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C...30.rBz6ORNPVhs

    I don't think you would get far with a full body barbell type program with no access to a barbell/weights/bench/rack.

    ETA: No offense if you are a guy. Posted and then recalled that Shannon can be either.
    Last edited by katya422; 01-23-2019 at 04:37 AM.
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    Originally Posted by shannonj18 View Post
    Also if anyone has recommendations for a full body workout that I can do at home with dumbbells, that will be great. I find many online, but I find them to be quite complicated, while I am looking for something simple that I can do twice/week (can't do more, for now)
    I would try something like:

    Bulgarian Split Squat or Goblet Squat (Lower body)
    Lying Dumbell Press (Chest/Tricep/ Front shoulders)
    One Arm Dumbell Row (Back/bicep)

    I would make those the core of your program. If you feel like you want to do more, then you could add another exercise or two, focusing on whatever body parts are of highest priority. Maybe you could add one exercise on day one, and a different one on day two. Some other accessories I would consider are:

    + Dumbbell Romanian deadlift or Stiff Leg Deadlift for glutes/hamstrings
    + Overhead shoulder press (more direct shoulder work)
    + Some direct bicep/tricep work with curls or overhead extension

    I might also consider picking up some resistance bands as perhaps you could incorporate some overhead pulling movements if you don't have access to a pull-up bar. Bands could be used for kickback variations that could also target glutes and hamstrings.
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    Humble Megalomaniac ElrondHubbard's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by shannonj18 View Post
    Farley1234, thanks for the explanation on the role of rest. I understand now why things are done the way they are. Since I'm here, I am training at home with a pair of dumbbells, are these good for the goal I'm aiming for? I just started, but nevertheless a friend is strongly suggesting I do stronglifts.

    Also if anyone has recommendations for a full body workout that I can do at home with dumbbells, that will be great. I find many online, but I find them to be quite complicated, while I am looking for something simple that I can do twice/week (can't do more, for now)
    You'll find lots of people agreeing with the choice of Stronglifts. It's a proven program.

    With regard to your second question, the two responses to it above are right on the money, but the bottom line is that one of the big advantages of barbell training is the relative simplicity of it. If you can't get to a barbell, but want overall growth and strength, you can still do it, but the process will inevitably be more complicated.

    If you CAN find a way to join a good gym, or if you CAN find a way to equip your home with a barbell, plates, bench, and rack, then that would give you better long-term results.
    Last edited by ElrondHubbard; 01-23-2019 at 11:04 AM.
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