Description: This is a general physical preparedness (GPP) style program that can be used for a variety of goals including fat loss, building muscle, and building your overall work capacity (AKA “gas tank”). Please note that this is not a specific program for specific athletic goals, rather a generalized program for simple goals such as body composition changes. With every sample strength training program, please note that you have individual needs, that you are not a blank slate, that you have a lifetime of conditioning under your belt (whether you like your conditioning or not). You will need to supplement this program with training for your individual needs, and may need to substitute some of the exercises with others. Also recognize that not all goals can be achieved strictly through exercise – some require very specific lifestyle adjustments to be achieved. For instance, fat loss is dependent on the principle of energy balance, (and ensuring you are in a caloric deficit) as opposed to simply training harder or longer. In order for any strength training program to be effective, you must consider all of the variables needed to achieve your goals.
This program requires minimal equipment and can be performed at home or at the gym. There are three, full body strength training sessions per week, performed on non-consecutive days, for four weeks.
If I only had one dumbbell and needed to reach a strength training goal, the dumbbell swing would be one of my exercises of choice. This weight training exercise is very simple and yet powerfully effective at eliciting a positive training effect. I like this weight training exercise mostly because it is easy to learn, requires minimal equipment, and works great for burning fat, building lean muscle tissue, and generating strength and power for athletic activities.
While the dumbbell swing may look like an arm exercise, the motion is actually generated in the legs with the extension of the knees and hips pressing into the ground. The core muscles will then channel that energy into the arm which is locked down in order to prevent it from “lifting” the dumbbell. Don’t let the way this exercise looks fool you, this is a full-body exercise that is challenging both to local musculature and to the cardiovascular system.
Programmed correctly into a strength training program, this exercise can create a large metabolic disturbance, resulting in more total calories burned.
Single-arm Dumbbell Swing
There are a few technique tips to keep in mind when performing this exercise.
1) Maintain good posture – this includes a flat back and a relaxed neck and spine, but also a locked down core. Your abdominal muscles should be actively contracted during the explosive, swinging phase of the movement.
2) Maintain shoulder pack position – actively packing your shoulder directly downwards onto your ribcage. This creates a structure that allows the dumbbell to travel smoothly with no excess movement.
3) Maintain elbow lock – bending your elbow will allow energy to “leak out” at that joint. Keeping your elbow locked will ensure that you get the most benefit from the exercise.
4) Use an intelligent grip – using the popular “death grip” with high intensity dumbbell swings isn’t a smart idea because you’re grip muscles will fatigue quickly. Since we want a full body training effect, we must use the intelligent grip protocol. This entails gripping just enough to maintain control of the dumbbell, and even lessening your grip while the DB is in freefall at the top of the motion (the moment when it stops ascending upwards, and begins to descend downwards). This gives your grip muscles a break and allows you to train more.
5) Allow your leg drive to do the swing work – pressing your feet into the ground while you explosively extend your hips forward and straighten your legs is the driving force of this exercise.
6) Exhale forcefully on effort – this is when the dumbbell is in back position (between your legs) and the body is literally coiled down to extend the hips and legs. When you release that elastic energy, effectively swinging the dumbbell upwards, that is when to forcefully exhale through your mouth.
Plugging this into a strength training program is really simple, and there are a lot of different ways to do it. You could do DB swings for time – doing rounds of one minute/arm. You could try doing heavier swings for reps, doing sets of 10, 20, 50, etc. This could also just be a supplementary exercise that you do at the beginning or end of your sessions. It all depends on your goals.
Like training with dumbbells?
Then you’ll love TACFIT Mass Assault. This program is for those who want to pack on a lot of muscle mass, in as little time as possible, but do so with a health-first approach (which is rare for most muscle building programs). All it requires is a set of dumbbells, and it’s currently on sale at the official website here.
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Health-First Fitness Coach
Sometimes, we just need a simple and quick strength training workout routine. That’s when bodyweight exercise programs come in. This circuit is guaranteed to give you both strength training and cardio benefits, while scorching your metabolism into fat burning mode. You’ll be huffing and puffing, but this one is over in just 15 minutes. Are you daring enough to try out this strength training home workout?
Bare Essentials Bodyweight Strength Training Circuit
Repeat 3x, no rest between exercises, 1 minute rest at the end of each circuit:
- Bodyweight squats – 1 minute
- Pushup variation according to skill level – 30 seconds
- Front plank – 30 seconds
- Walking lunges w/ or w/o DB’s, KB’s or sandbags, (etc.) – 30 sec./leg
- Mixed grip pullups (either vertical or horizontal) – 30 seconds on the bar, no letting go
- Choice of Mountain Climbers or Bear Walk 30 seconds
- Rest 1 minute
Notes: For the timed sets, you don’t need to be repping out during the entire time. If you fatigue before the time period ends, rest and catch your breath, then try to squeeze some final reps in before the end. All of the exercises can and should be modified to fit your current conditioning level. If you like this quick strength training workout routine, let me know and I’ll keep them coming in the future.
To your health and success,
John Sifferman, NSCA-CPT
If I could teach you one thing it is that you ARE strong and you DO know what is best for your health. This advice will echo throughout all of the Real World Strength Training themes, principles, and articles.
You have an amazing gift that you can use for any physical goal, be it strength training or not – intuition. Deep inside of yourself, you know what is best for your health – you have an internal awareness that provides direction. While many trainers and coaches will belittle you by saying that their workout routines are over-your-head, that you need professional help (or a “specialist”), or that you’re not capable of taking care of your health – they couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the best things you can do to immediately jump-start your progress in your exercise program is to listen to that inner voice – your “physical conscience,” if you will. This will provide more direction for your training than any workout routine, exercise program, or even a professional trainer.
Now, I’m going to tell you something that many other coaches, trainers, and even some corporations won’t tell you… Continued
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Here at Physical Living, we have a health-first perspective on fitness and athleticism. We know that strength is a skill that anyone can develop with practice, and reap the benefits of a stronger, leaner physique – and ultimately what we’re all after, better health and quality of life.
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