The exercise intensity is increased gradually by means of a double progressive training system, in which the participant alternately adds repetitions and resistance. For example, a trainee who does a repetition with 50 pounds continues to use this resistance until she performs 12 repetitions. After 12 repetitions are completed, she increases the weightload by five percent to 52.5 pounds. When she performs 12 repetitions with this resistance she increases the weightload to 55 pounds.
To ensure productive training each repetition is performed in six seconds, with two seconds for the lifting movement and four seconds for the lowering movement. This technique reduces the role of momentum and makes the important negative muscle contraction more demanding. The goal is to make every repetition count, so that one properly performed set of exercise provides sufficient stimulus for muscle development.
Our experience indicates that this basic program of strength and endurance exercise is a safe and effective means for improving physical fitness and body composition in men and women of all ages. It is also a time-efficient approach to training, requiring only 50 minutes of exercise two or three times per week. Perhaps more significant in our sedentary society, it is a program that produces particularly good results for overweight individuals who have varying percentages of body fat. Getting back to basic exercise may be the key for adults who want to attain and maintain a desirable body weight and body composition.
Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. and author of the new Nautilus book, Building Strength and Stamina.
Jane Guy,M.Ed., is a fitness research instructor and data analyst at the South Shore YMCA.
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