Sweat Equity (noun)- sustained effort; hard work

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    I'm a school teacher who has a passion for strength and conditioning. Over the years I have gained knowledge from the books, but more importantly through life experience and continued learning. My passion has turned into a side business. I see my responsibility as: 1. developing my trainees' strength throughout the whole body, not parts and pieces, both physically and mentally, and 2. to educate people on proper, effective exercise. If you train with me you will not get a cheerleader, but you will get somebody who will push and encourage you so that you will attain your goals. If you want to whine and not work hard, then find another trainer. It doesn't matter if you are a middle aged housewife or a college athlete-I can get you where you want to go, but only if you want it! If you are interested in training or nutritional counseling to achieve your goals, then please get in touch. Progress, not perfection! -Sweat Equity
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Meat & Potatoes

Posted by Sweat Equity on 03/30/2015

When it comes to working out, often times, people either wander aimlessly or misdirect their focus. Let me preface what I have to say with the fact that this is not meant to contradict any medical advice or recommendations. This information is intended for those who consider themselves to be healthy enough to engage in intense exercise or have been cleared by a doctor for intense exercise.

There are a myriad of variations to working out. High reps/low weight, Low reps/high weight, long rest, short rest, supersets, upper body/lower body splits, Push/Pull/Squat splits, and the list could go on. Regardless of how specific you think your training is supposed to be, the core of the workout should look similar for most individuals. Whether you split it up over several days or do full body workouts is a personal preference.

What I want to address is the exercises you have available (assuming healthy body) and what should constitute the meat & potatoes (compound exercises) of the workout and what should be the dessert (isolation exercises) of the workout. Conditioning is for another day. Compound exercises involve multiple joints, whereas isolation exercises involve one joint. The more muscle being used at one time, the more metabolically demanding it becomes, and since rarely do our bodies do anything without the coordination of multiple muscle groups, it becomes more functional.

A simple breakdown of movements and examples would be as follows:

Compound Exercises

Horizontal Press

  • Bench press
  • Incline bench press (low)
  • Push ups

Horizontal Pull

  • Rows

Vertical Press

  • Military press/Overhead press

Vertical Pull

  • Pull ups/Chin ups
  • Pull downs
  • Rope climb


  • Front squat
  • Back squat

Whole body pull 

  • Deadlift (Romanian deadlift if done on same day as squats)
  • Power Clean

Isolation Exercises

Biceps (front of upper arm)-curls

Triceps (back of upper arm)-push downs or nosebreakers

Deltoids (shoulders)-lateral raise, rear deltoid raise, front raise

Calves-calf raises, jump rope

The above lists are by no means exhaustive; just a guide to what you may want to include for a well rounded workout. Some suggestions for how to group the exercises are as follows:

Option 1-Alternate every other day with 1-2 days of rest in between.

Day 1

  1. Horizontal press and pull
  2. Squat
  3. Isolation work that you have time for

Day 2

  1. Vertical press and pull
  2. Whole body pull
  3. Isolation work that you have time for

Option 2-Alternate Day 1 and Day 2. These can be done on consecutive days and then take a day off, followed by 2 days again. It could look something like Mon/Thurs-Day 1 and Tues/Fri-Day 2

Day 1

  1. Horizontal press and pull
  2. Vertical press and pull

Day 2-Alternate A and B each time if you like, or stick with one until progress stops, and then switch to the other.

Workout A

  1. Back squat
  2. Romanian deadlift
  3. Isolation work

Workout B

  1. Front squat
  2. Deadlift
  3. Isolation work

Sets, reps, and rest times will be determined by your goals.

Again, these are rough rules of thumb, not written in stone or exhaustive. They are guidelines.

Strength-lower reps (2-5), higher weights (85-90% of max), longer rest periods (2-5 min)

Hypertrophy (muscle growth)-higher reps (8-15), medium weights (50-75% of max), shorter rest periods (30 sec-1 min)

Yes, there are recommendations for power and endurance, but for most people, strength or hypertrophy are the goals.

I personally like to use strength guidelines for the compound exercises and hypertrophy guidelines for the isolation exercises, but that is just my preference.

Progress, not perfection!


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