1. Train twice or once a week

Each training session should cover the entire body and have a maximum of ten exercises. Research into the science of strength training has shown that one or two sessions per week is enough to train most muscle groups provided that each exercise is performed to Momentary Muscular Failure.

2. Start with approximately ten exercises per session

If you are new to exercise, start with approximately ten exercises per session. As you become stronger, the number of exercises performed should be reduced. With increased strength, you will be placing greater demands on your body; more resources will need to be used to perform the exercises. The number of exercises or frequency of sessions should be reduced so that you continue to perform the exercises properly to maintain exercise quality and to achieve optimum results.

3. Train the larger muscle groups first

Train the larger muscle groups first (e.g., start with lower body). It is more efficient to exercise large muscles or muscle groups at the beginning of a session rather than at the end. Larger muscle groups will activate the nervous system, metabolism, hormonal circulation and cardiovascular system more quickly, which produces higher stimulation in the body.

4. Select a weight that allows you to do the exercise for 60–90 seconds

Select a weight that allows you to do the exercise for 60–90 seconds. Do 4–8 repetitions. Positive movement, such as lifting a weight stack, should take between four and ten seconds. The negative phase, such as lowering the weights, should also take between four and ten seconds. In between, when the muscle is fully contracted, the tension should be held for two seconds.

Holding muscle tension for the correct amount of time is crucial for an effective workout. A slow, controlled tempo, performed properly with a weight that brings you to momentary muscular failure (MMF) in the 80- to 90-second window, will continuously activate all of the three main muscle fibre groups. This starts with the slow-twitch muscles, moves to the intermediate-twitch muscles, and, on the last repetition or two, the fast-twitch ones. When this process is complete, the entire spectrum of muscle fibers has been adequately worked, from the steady-state slow-twitch fibers to the strong fast-twitch fibres, producing many benefits from the exercise.

5. Never do sudden and “explosive” movements

Never do sudden and “explosive” movements, which are ineffective and dangerous. Fast and explosive movements reduce muscle tension, making training less efficient. It increases force on the tendons and joint structures, which increases the risk of short and long term injury. It is unnecessary to move explosively in order to activate strong fast-twitch fibers.

6. Perform each exercise to the point of localized momentary muscular failure

Perform each exercise to the point of localized momentary muscular failure (MMF); that is, until you no longer can move the weight in good form. The key to a great workout is using the proper weight and creating sufficient muscle stimulation. In order to do this, you must monitor your progress and adjust your workouts as required. When are you able to perform an exercise for more than 90 seconds without reaching muscular failure, increase your weight by 5%. If you cannot perform the exercise for at least 60 seconds, then reduce your weight by 5%. In doing so, you will create sufficient intensity to recruit the maximum number of muscle fibers.

7. Always maintain perfect form

Always maintain perfect form. Do not turn, wriggle, or swing the body so you can perform additional repetitions. This has little benefit and will likely lead to injury, if anything.

8. Relax the muscles that are not being used during the exercise

Relax the muscles that are not being used during the exercise. In particular, make sure the hand, neck, and facial muscles are relaxed. In creating unnecessary muscle contractions, you use energy, trigger the nervous system’s inhibitory processes and place strain on your cardiovascular system, which will detract from what you are able to achieve during your workout.

9. Never hold your breath during the exercise

Never hold your breath during the exercise and breathe continuously as required. Try to breathe naturally. It is possible to negatively affect your blood pressure when you hold your breath during workouts.

10. Keep the interval between individual exercises to a maximum of 15-30 seconds (if possible)

Whenever possible, keep the interval between individual exercises to a maximum of 15-30 seconds. This increases your oxygen requirements and fully engages your cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Your heart benefits and gets a good workout as well.

11. Do not perform more than one set on each machine

Do not perform more than one set on each machine. If the set is done properly, two or more sets do not increase muscle stimulation. Studies show that significant added gains are not produced by multiple-set training programs.

12. Never compromise the quality of your form for the sake of adding more weight

Never compromise the quality of your form for the sake of adding more weight. It is not the amount of weight that is important; it’s the degree to which you are able to fatigue the muscle. Performing the exercise in correct form is important so you can work through the full range of motion and ensure that increases in muscle strength are achieved in balance.

13. Enter the weight for the next session on your training card

At the end of each session, enter the weight for the next session on your training card. Plan in advance. Accurate training records are crucial for productive training. They will dictate your optimum training frequency, and with time show you which programs worked better than others.

14. Drink water

Drink water before, during, and after training. When the body sweats, most of what is lost is water. As such, the electrolyte concentration in the body increases. Drinking water is necessary because that is what needs to be replenished in the body to ensure proper function.

15. Allow at least 48 hours between each training session

Allow at least 48 hours between each training session. During each training session, enough intensity is created that both the muscles worked and the central nervous system are fatigued. The entire body requires sufficient time to recover. It is during this recovery period that the body grows stronger. If you do not allow your body sufficient time to recover, you will be placing undue stress on it and with time it will grow weaker rather than stronger. This is a phenomenon known as Overtraining Syndrome (OTS). The amount of time necessary to recover is dependent on each specific training program and individual.

Add some mindfulness to your experience:

16. Be ‘present’ during your training session

Before you start, take a couple of conscious, slow breaths. Bring your awareness to your body sensations (feeling the texture of the upholstery, the handles etc.). Start moving the weight in a controlled and slow fashion and as doing so experience the sensations associated with the movement, without judging or labelling them as hard, uncomfortable, painful etc. Be neutral to those sensations. Accepting them for what they are without any judgment is the key. Stay focused on those feelings, be in your body and not your mind, during the entire exercise, and simply do your best to contract your muscles and move the weights one inch at a time. Do not think too far ahead.

Your primary objective is to produce tension on the targeted muscle/s, your secondary objective is to generate the movement. Generate muscle tension during this inch, and then this inch, and then this inch… until, despite your best effort, no movement is possible. You will know when you did it right; physically you will feel exhausted, but mentally it will feel like you just mediated for a minute and a half.

When transitioning between exercises focus on your stride, feel the muscles you just worked, listen to the sounds of the room. This keeps you in the moment and reduces the mental stress of thinking about your next exercise(s). Then follow the instructions of the step above.

learn more about MST.

The above training principles should be followed in the absence of any particular disability or illness or some other special circumstance that may make the training unsafe.

If you have problems with your musculoskeletal system or general health, consult a doctor, preferably one qualified in medical strengthening therapy, before starting weight training for strength. Doctors trained in medical strengthening therapy are familiar with the necessary exercises and their effect, allowing them to create training programs tailored to your needs.