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JONES: Top 10 tricks for strength training: Part 2

Aloha Doug,

I’ve been good about doing cardio but I know that lifting weights is important too. Can you please give me some basic tips for strength training? There are so many different opinions out there and I’m just not sure what’s right anymore.

— Judy B, Kapa‘a

Aloha Judy,

Continuing my answer from last time, let’s finish with the final five tips of my top 10 tricks:

Sets & Reps

A REP (short for repetition) is one complete movement of an exercise, basically one lifting and one lowering of a weight. For example, during push-ups, you lift your body up and lower your body back down. That’s one rep. If you perform 10 push-ups in a row, that’s one SET of 10 reps. If you take a short break, and then perform 10 more reps, you’ve now completed two sets of push-ups, for a total of 20 reps. Performing more reps and sets is not necessarily the best way to exercise, as there is a significant law of diminishing returns in play. In fact, the most productive time during your entire strength workout is arguably the final rep of your first intense working set, after finishing all lighter warm-up sets.

Speed of Movement

This principle is so important that I’ve written an entire book about the benefits of slow-motion strength training. An “eccentric” muscle action is the scientific term used to describe a muscle fiber as it lengthens under tension. Learning to “Exercise Your Eccentric Genius” (my book) is indubitably “The Best Way to Exercise” (my business). Long story short, slowly lowering weight is the secret to strength training. If you do nothing else, please perform every single exercise with a deliberately slow speed of movement. Never use momentum to lift a weight; instead, always lift a weight slowly. Then, even more importantly, always lower a weight super slowly! In fact, the only reason that you lift a weight is so that you can lower a weight. Watch your watch. If a set takes less than a minute to perform, please slow down. Trust me for now; there will be much more on this in columns to come.

Exercise Proper Technique

Lowering weight slowly is especially valuable when you perfect your performance by exercising perfect form. Since each specific exercise has its own precise technique, I understand that memorizing meticulous movements can become a little overwhelming for most people. However, as you train your brain as well as your body, you’ll realize that it only takes a few minutes to learn the best way to exercise for each exercise. Master it once and apply it forever. And, I’m always here to help in any way that you see fit. Vast free resources are readily available through and; without a doubt, you can be a veritable expert in no time.

Perform Progression

While there are some exceptions to this rule, it is important to try to continually progress by regularly reforming repetitions, resistances, or routines. This won’t necessarily occur during each workout, but overall progression should continue each week, at least until you achieve a level of fitness, which you would like to maintain. Progression does not always need to coincide with an improved physique or performance. Larger and stronger muscles show definite progress, but so does any systematic modification to any aspect of your program — reps, sets, exercises, or resistances. Big or small, one step at a time is still progress. Keep in mind that, with progression, there is also a law of diminishing returns. Without question, the most dramatic results of any program always develop from the least amount of exercise. The difference between doing absolutely nothing and next to nothing is tremendous.

Seek Professional Guidance

Last but not least. Finding a qualified and personable personal fitness professional is no easy task. I should know. Over the years, I’ve interviewed literally thousands of trainers to hire a hundred or so. Regardless of whether you are seeking to personally train with someone with my particular education, expertise, or experiences, I am still here to help you, via my column, “In Health & With Hope.” So, if you have any questions about fitness and fat loss, or eating and exercise, I promise to give you my best answers based on decades of experience helping people just like you. I look forward to hearing from you, as we all prepare for a healthy and happy new year ahead. Aloha & Mahalo!

In health & with hope,



Doug Jones earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from the University of Maryland and has served professionals and personalities as a concierge fitness trainer for decades. As a resident of Kaua‘i and Connecticut, he has helped millions of people learn the secrets of fitness and fat loss, both online and in person. To submit your questions, or for more information, please visit:
Source: The Garden Island

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