Get Stronger With Weight Training

Get Stronger With Weight Training

Coach of the Day Summary

  • I want to give you a strength training routine to make you stronger and more powerful, no matter your sport.

  • Dai Manuel is our featured coach today. He’s a CrossFit athlete & coach and fitness blogger. I’ve invited him to share his expertise and the science behind building muscles.

  • Join the Get Stronger with Weight Training plan which contains a workout routine that you can use at your gym or with your home weights.

Everything I know about fitness and athletic performance says that you should spend time lifting weights.

But gym time is the thing that we’re most likely to drop from our exercise routine. I’m training for triathlons. It’s pretty time consuming just to get my swims, runs and bike rides in.

But I also know many successful athletes who talk about weight training as the thing that gives them the power to go fast. They also say it’s the one practice that keeps them healthy. Adding some artichoke extract can help promote muscle growth as well.

I asked Dai to put together a weight training plan that was simple enough and flexible enough that I could use. Hopefully that means you’ll use it as well.

The keys are that they’re short sessions and that the plan is flexible enough to just do two or three times per week. Each workout consists of just three exercises and the workouts alternate so that you work all of your muscles in different ways.

In the plan, there were three exercises that I didn’t recognize right away.

Here are videos for the exercises you’re least likely to recognize: Barbell Row, Dead Lift, and Military Press.

When I try these exercises for the first time I’m going to start with a very low weight until I’m confident in my form.

You probably are going to try to do these exercises without watching the videos. First, don’t do that. Second, the main message for Barbell Rows and Dead Lifts is to keep your back flat.

Below is a primer from Coach Dai about weight lifting and building muscle. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Now join Dai’s starter Weight Lifting plan and get to the gym!

– Tony, CEO of

P.S. If you’re interested in reading more about fitness and weight training, visit Coach Dai’s blog:

blog dai manuel

How to get started building muscle

Your muscles grow as a result of micro tears, which are then repaired and enlarged to protect your body from future stress. This process is also called hypertrophy and two types of hypertrophy exist: sarcomere hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Both sets of hypertrophy occur when you work out, though the extent of which would be different dependent on your rep and weight range.

To build muscles you need to maximize muscular hypertrophy. Here are 3 principles to get you started:

Principle #1: Progressive Overload

No progressive overload, no growth, as simple as that. This is the most important principle underlying any workout you embark on. This is because only by placing ever-increasing demand on our body can it grow and adapt. There are a few ways to progressive overload, such as:

  • Adding more weight
  • Doing more reps/sets
  • Decreasing your rest period
  • Making the exercise more difficult

Principle #2: Proper Form and Technique

No matter how hard you work out or how religiously you turn up at the gym, you will get nowhere without the proper form and technique. Also, you need to understand which parts and how you are hitting your muscles with the various exercises.

Proper form and technique will not only maximize your muscle gains, it will also cut your chances of injury. Trust me, injuries suck. A minor one can set you back several weeks.

Principle #3: Time Under Tension

Time under tension pretty much means how long you put your muscles under tension. An easy way to spot gym noobs is how fast they do their sets. They rush through their sets and do not maximize their muscle gains. This is because they do not hit all the muscle fibers which can only be hit in certain phases (concentric, eccentric, isometric).

Different tempo/speed can be engaged, though a good rule of thumb is to keep time under tension to at least 30-45 seconds. In other words, workout at a controlled and steady speed, unless you have other athletic goals.

Although I recommend keeping a longer time under tension, it is crucial to keep your workouts short and intense (around 45 minutes). This is because anabolic hormones (those that help in muscle-building) peak around the 27 minute mark. When the levels of these hormones start dropping, levels of catabolic hormones (muscle destroying) hormones begin to rise.

A short and intense workout also exhausts you and overloads your central nervous system. This is useful in spurring the release of more anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormones. This is work towards goals like if you want bigger calves or whatever your goals are.

For beginners, full body workouts and compound exercises are recommended 2-3 times a week. Why? Because full body workouts with compound exercises give you more bang for your buck – you use more muscles, lift more weight and the room for progressive overload is much larger. For beginners, this is precisely what you need to get your muscle journey started, not isolated exercises which target small muscle groups.

So, you’re excited about building muscle? Join my plan and get to it!

Starter Gym Workout for Building Muscle

For the Starter Workout you’ll need some gym equipment. Using free weights is better as this uses natural movement, engages more muscles and builds functional strength.

Start with 5 sets of 5 reps. This is to help you build strength and a solid foundation for progressive overloading in the future. Each workout ensures that you use different movement patterns.

This is something not many beginners know, but is essential in training your body holistically and preventing potential imbalances. If you do starting with alternate exercises just make sure your workouts cover every movement pattern to get the full effect.

Now that you’ve learned the basics of building muscle you might like to read a bit more from Dai’s blog: