Gym Jones is a site full of articles on building strength for a purpose. There is little there to give one an idea about what is right for them, but it will inspire one to realize that one can find out.
Alwyn Cosgrove has taken a very practical approach using the data he has gleaned from training many clients at his gym in California. One article that should be read by anyone who is looking to start out is his Developing a Training Philosophy at T-Nation.
I'll throw out some theoretical numbers here. Probably around 80-90% of the population, 80-90% of the time, will respond best to total body workouts. And I'd say that maybe 90-95% of the population, 90-95% of the time, will respond best to either total body or an upper and lower split.
This is a significant statement. It fits well with the very direct information from Dan John. His site is a wealth of articels on simply getting stronger. Lots of stuff for a beginner such as myself. His mission is simple.
1. The body is one piece
2. There are three kinds of strength training
3. All training is complimentary.
- Putting weight overhead
- Picking it off the ground
- Carrying it for time and distance.
From his site I chose a workout that gave me a place to start with a built in method for determining when to add weight to the bar. It goes like this:
I do a clean then from that position I do a military press. With the bar back at my chest I do a front squat. Three exercises in one. I repeat this in three sets. The first has 8 reps, the second six and the last 4. All reps must be with good form. When I can do every rep in good form at the current weight I add ten pounds the next time I do the workout. In a short ten minute workout I have done my full body and I'm very tired.
My philosophy is lift heavy but not so much that form suffers.
My goal is to get stronger. To be able to overhead squat my body weight. Look it up. It's not going to happen for a long time to come. I want to still be able to do so when I am 80.
My plan is to do a little, often, for a long time. A few exercises done properly, adding weight when necessary, over the long haul to produce regular results.
It is essential to keep a log of each workout. Here is a sample from mine:
September 27, 2006
8-6-4 105# Clean/Press/Front squat
2 X 10 Kettle bell swings 45#
Several Squats were bad, generally went good had strong finish. Did 10 squats at 15# to check form. Need to do some light work to fix form.
One can't be sure of progress without a log.
If one has no weights, find something heavy, a bag of sand, a bucket of gravel or a rock. Pick it up, put it over your head, carry it for time or distance. The important thing is to do a little often for a long time.
I hope this answers the question but also raises others.
In four months I am overhead Squatting half my body weight.