Weight Training Fundamentals 101

(Applied to Muscular Strength)
Before beginning any weight training exercise program designed to improve muscular strength, follow these fundamentals and include all to ensure safety, effectiveness and fun! And, as always, before beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Three basic types of weight training equipment:

-Free weight – the weight is free of any attachment such as dumbbells, barbells, plates, kettlebells, medicine balls, body bars, versa logs, etc.

-Plate-loaded – the plate is placed onto the machine/bar to add load to the sled, carriage, bar, etc., which the user will then push or pull (i.e. Smith Machine/Leg Press/Leg Curl).

-Selectorized – this is usually a cable/pulley system, also known as a multi-gym and this equipment allows you to choose the position of the cable/pulley, the amount of weight on the weight stack and the attachment that you will utilize (i.e. Matrix/Hoist).

Body Position in relationship to gravity

-Body position in relationship to gravity is tantamount when weight training! If you are training your pectoral muscles by performing a bench press with free weight or plate loaded equipment, you must be opposite of gravity to effectively train the chest. With selectorized equipment, a cable/pulley is attached to a weight stack and, consequently, the body position may be varied as a result. What is very important with all equipment is that your body is positioned in a “direct line of pull”.

Three Types of Muscular Strength Exercises

-Isolation – think of a standing biceps curl exercise – you are isolating that specific muscle or muscle group

-Multi-muscled – think of squats, lunges, pushups, pull ups as these all require primary, secondary and tertiary muscles to work to perform the exercise.

-Compound – think of a full body extension or a squat/swing with a kettlebell. The upper/lower body are training simultaneously which requires a tremendous amount of energy. Using the example of a full body extension, you are performing a squat, which requires the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core to engage, you are performing a plantar flexion which requires the gastrocnemius and soleus to engage and you are performing an overhead press which requires the deltoids to engage.

Three planes of movement

-There are three planes in the human body. Sagittal, which is the anterior/posterior halves of the body (think squatting); frontal, which is the right/left halves of the body (think hip abduction); and, transverse which is the top/bottom halves of the body (think rotation of the torso).

Five primary movement patterns

-Pushing/pulling/lunging/squatting/rotating are the primary movement patterns.

Concentric/eccentric loading – all programs must include both concentric and eccentric loading.

Unilateral/bilateral – all programs must include training for one side of the body at a time and both training simultaneously as this is how the body functions.

Tempo – the rate of speed that you perform muscular strength training should be slow (think two counts in each direction as a general rule of thumb)

TUT – Time Under Tension – you must keep the muscle under tension long enough to elicit change.

Progressive Overload Principle – stress/adaptation

Specificity Principle – to be good at it, you must do it and often

FITT Principle – F-frequency – how often; I – intensity – how hard; T-time – how long; T-type

ROM = range of motion – this is a huge element of weight training. You must be training the muscle/muscle group from origin to insertion


Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby, Colorado. She may be reached at her website at www.mtnlifefitness.com, her email at jackie@mtnlifefitness.flywheelsites.com and her Facebook page at Mountain Life Fitness.

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