Strength Training/Time spent at the gym

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Question
I guess this is a gym 'psychology' question.

I joined a gym 14 months ago. Got a personal trainer. We established that my 'goal,' was to be stronger. Not a bodybuilder, not for sports, just make my body stronger.

He scheduled me to go 3-days a week, 2-hours each time I went. I "worked-out" on all the different machines, learning which ones I was comfortable with, which ones I had difficulty with. Then we would end with a aerobic program. I liked the bikes the best.

10-20 reps. For each exercise.

I started out slow, light weights. The weight I lifted was increased very slowly. Good record-keeping by my trainer. Always the goal of 10-20 reps. If I could not DO a minimum of 10 reps, he readjusted the weight I was lifting. Different weights for different machines. I could do back exercises the heaviest.

What changed was my TIME lifting. I began to lift faster, do the bike faster, even with the weight increases. I went from 2 hours, to 1 hour, to today - 45 minutes. And then I was done.

Damn. I hear guys who are power lifters and body-builders who, even with years of lifting, are in the gym for 2 hours, or more.

While I got done in 45 minutes. My trainer said that in time, I will get done in less than 15 minutes. Because I am lifting faster, and gradually heavier. But not too heavy, because he said my goal is strength; not size or mass.

I am thinking; am I doing this too fast? I went from 10 lbs. of lifting, to (mostly) now 50 lbs. of lifting. My trainer says that I should reach an end-goal of 100 lbs. of lifting, for many, but not ALL exercises. "100 lbs lifting ability will help you deal with almost any life situation." "Changing tires, picking up heavy boxes off the floor." "Even yourself! as you grow older and getting out of a chair!" He is telling me.

Not too big, but not too skinny either.

What do you think of all this? It bothers me sometimes to see other guys lifting amazing amounts of weight, while I go along, zipping through my lifts with lighter weights, and shorter times.

I go in, I am done. And I go home. Is that how it should be for me?

Answer
Hey Thomas, sorry for the delayed response

Ok so good and some bad points about what was mentioned, I will start with the good. Your personal trainer was right on stating to go to about the 10-20 rep range, personally I would have went to 12-15. This works on endurance but also establishes a good base for individuals who are not conditioned or are just starting out. It is good to build the body slowly so it adapts to the stimulus placed upon it. To become stronger you should aim for 2-7 repetitions for large muscle groups  ( chest/back/legs/shoulders) once your body has adapted to the initial stages of training, usually that's between 4-6 weeks.

Also,forget about what other people are doing in the gym. Last time I went to a commercial gym 75% of the individuals were doing the exercises incorrect, and I am NOT exaggerating.One guy was throwing his back into doing preacher curls on a machine, another guy was rounding his back and all I was thinking was why don't these personal trainers step in and help out, it would avoid injuries that can occur from bad technique and bad form. Most likely these guys will end up in a physical therapists clinic in 3 months time. All you need to do is have your goal set and make sure you are doing your exercise correctly.

As for the 100lbs, sounds a bit sketchy to me. I mean large muscle groups such as chest/back/shoulders legs need to all lift 100lbs? That doesn't sound right, your legs are more powerful then your chest or back and your biceps can't be as strong as your bicep/ tricep so that's nonsense. You should focus on whole body exercises instead of machines because your building your body's response to lifting objects in synchrony or in fancy terms the neuro muscular system. See when your lifting something,your body doesn't just  use one muscle group,it uses collective muscle groups to perform the movement. At the same time this also burns more calories then an isolated movement (bicep curl), Yes some isolation exercises is warranted but it shouldn't be the main focus to do all machines. Exercises such as squats to overhead press should be used. The best way I can describe this concept is to relate this to an rock band. Now when a rock band plays you got this drums, you got bass, you got the electric guitar and you got the singe, they all play together and it sounds better and makes for a better song.. Thats how it is when it comes to muscles, train for movement, not for isolation.

So two things to wrap it up,

1) train gradually, increase weight slowly. In beginning stages work on endurance,stability, control of movement and the 12-15 rep range. 8-10 exercises should be good to start hitting all major muscle groups.

2) try focus on whole body movement rather then isolation.

I hope this helps, it was a long response. Hope this helps clarify some stuff at the gym.  

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