Dear Dr. Bell, What is the best system to use for beginners weight training for the first time?

The Foundation of all beginner strength training systems is the “2-4 Second System.” This is designed to negate momentum. Beginners will typically use momentum to complete repetitions with more weight than their current training level should allow. If you use the Bench Press as an example, you can see beginners drop the weight on their chest in an attempt to “bounce the bar off their chest” to get the bar moving upward as quickly as possible.

Not only is this unsafe, it greatly reduces effectiveness. If you have too much weight on the bar, and get overly aggressive and drop the weight for a big bounce at the bottom, you risk damaging your rib cage and in excessive cases, even damage your heart.

When considering effectiveness, realize that any momentum removes some or all of the load on your target muscles and muscle groups. The science of strength training requires commitment to control load. Equally important is control of your Eccentric Contractions, which is the muscle elongating under load. Contrary to the way the beginner feels about strength training, research shows that almost all of your muscular size and strength gains are derived from the Eccentric Contraction, not the Concentric Contraction that occurs as your muscles are shortening or decreasing the angle around your joints. So the “2-4 Second System” is effective in 2 important ways:

  • It negates momentum &
  • It places emphasis on the Eccentric Contraction by doing a slower 4 second contraction to increase both size and strength

Since you are just starting-out in strength training, my best recommendation to you is to use the “2-4 Second System”

The “2-4 Second System” is performed by taking 2 seconds on the Concentric Contraction and exhaling and taking 4 seconds to complete the Eccentric Contraction and inhaling with brief pauses between contractions.

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