The table below offers guidance regarding resistance training for beginning, intermediate, and established exercisers. Note that you may be doing aerobic exercise regularly (and thus be in the "established" category) but may be a beginner when it comes to resistance training. For this reason, you should consider each component separately.
Aerobic and Resistance Training Targets Based on Activity Status
|Activity Status||Aerobic Training Focus||Resistance Training Focus|
|Beginner (inactive with no or minimal physical activity and thus deconditioned)|| No prior activity: Focus is on light to moderate level activity for 20-30 minutes over the course of the day. Accumulating time in 10-minute bouts is an option. Overall, your target is 60-150 minutes per week. |
Minimal prior activity (i.e., once you have met the target level of 60-160 minutes): Focus is on light to moderate-level activity for 30-60 minutes per day. Accumulating time in 10-minute bouts is an option. Overall your target is 150-200 minutes per week.
|Select six exercises (one targeting each of the following muscle groups: hips and legs, chest, back, shoulders, low back, and abdominals. Begin with one set of 8-12 repititions twice per week. Your target is one or two sets of 8-12 repetitions done two or three days per week. (Note: For older adults, 10-15 repetitions per set are recommended.)|
|Intermediate (sporadically active but without an optimal exercise plan and thus moderately deconditioned)||Fair to average fitness: Focus is on moderate activity for 30-90 minutes per day. Overall, your target is 200-300 minutes per week.||Select 10 exercises (one targeting each of the following muscle groups: hips and legs, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, low back, and abdominals). Your target is two sets of 8-12 repetitions on two or three days per week. (Note: For older adults, 10-15 repetitions per set are recommended.)|
|Established (Regularly engaging in moderate to vigorous exercise)||Regular exercisers (moderate to vigorous): Focus is on moderate to vigorous-intensity activity for 30-90 minutes per day. Overall, your target is 200-300 minutes per week.||You can continue with the intermediate plan (but simply add more weight as you adapt), or you may want to consider splitting your workout and focusing more on specific muscle groups on a given day.|
Click here for ACSM's Program for Balanced Fitness (Part Three): Flexibility and Balance.
Reviewed by Susan Weiner, RD, MS, CDE, CDN (06/12)
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