The Three Key Components to an Effective Weightlifting Program

Regardless of your goals, all fitness plans should include an effective weightlifting program. Incorporating one will add strength to muscles, bones, and joints. It will improve your metabolism as well as provide many other benefits. While how hard and often you train is relative to you and your goals there are three key components that will drive your results.

  • Consistency
  • Intensity 
  • Recovery


Any article, book, or podcast related to achieving goals will tell you that the consistent application of behaviors that support your goal is key to success. This holds true in the health and fitness world as well. Whether you’re working out one day a week or five, being consistent is what leads the body to adapt and change. What kind of schedule should you set? Well, that depends on your goals. 

  • 1 day/week to preserve and improve your muscles and bones.  
  • 2-3 days/week to preserve and improve the strength of your muscles and bones and boost your metabolism. It also has the potential for a small increase in muscle size. 
  • 4 days/ week increases strength and greater potential for increasing muscle mass
  • 5 days a week isn’t necessary and can lead to overtraining. Try adding in a walk or other movement activity.

Choose your goal then set a consistent schedule to achieve it. Weight training sessions do not need to take more than 30 minutes each time. So put 30 minutes on your calendar the number of times per week that meets your goals. Then call on the aid of an accountability partner. This could be a friend, maybe one who works out with you, a spouse/child who wants you to succeed, or you might even pay someone!


A weight training routine that doesn’t provide intensity doesn’t promote change.  You can choose free weights or machines, it just needs to be demanding. But what does intensity mean? That depends on you. The demand you place on your body during a session should not always be a 10 out of 10. There’s a time and place for that, such as the last five minutes of your session as a finisher. During a regular session, you should spend most of the session at a level 6 or 7. How do you know if you’re at that level? For starters, you should be out of your comfort zone. During a workout, you are expected to be uncomfortable, not in pain. A basic test for intensity level chooses a weight and a movement, after 15 reps of a movement can you do 15 more? 

  • If the answer is “yes, easily”, you probably weren’t pushing hard (level 0-4).
  • If you answered “probably or maybe, but I don’t want to” then you are likely in the target zone with a little wiggle room (level 5-7).
  •  If you can’t or didn’t even make it to 15 you’ve pushed it all the way! (level 8-10). 

Now you can develop a routine that is built around your intensity level. Warm-up at a level 2-4, move into a level 6-7 for the majority of the time, then finish up with something that takes you to a level 8-10. 

For most people pushing themselves out of their comfort zone is challenging. If you struggle with that, look for opportunities that do that for you. Work out with friends, join a class, or seek the help of a personal trainer.


One of the most important pieces of a strength-based program or really any exercise program is recovery. Our favorite line is “there’s little benefit in the workout you didn’t recover from”. How hard you work relative to your goals and how quickly you recover determines the benefit you realize from your workouts. Recovery requires you to get adequate sleep, water, food, and activity (movement outside of intentional exercise). You will know if you haven’t spent enough time recovering if you are sluggish, super sore, overtired, or just basically not feeling ready for your next workout.

The concepts of recovery are simple. So simple in fact you probably learned them in preschool. But let’s review the daily minimums to be sure.

  • Sleep: 7-8 hours 
  • Water: 8- 8ounces glasses 
  • Food: lean meats, lots of vegetables (especially the bright colored ones), a fruit or two, a few carbohydrates for energy, and some healthy fats
  • Activity: 15-30 minutes of play a day – riding a bike, walking, hiking, gardening, yardwork, playing tag with your kids, golfing, whatever has you moving, and it might as well be something you enjoy.

Regardless of your goals, starting a weight training program is one of the most beneficial steps you can take to a healthier, more fit, stronger you. Set yourself up for success by incorporating these three components. 

If you’re ready to begin and want guidance, reach out to us! We have trainers at our Zionsville and Carmel studio ready to work with you!