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The Princeton Longevity Center Medical News

Designing a Resistance Training Program

By: Christopher Volgraf, ACSM HFI©, NSCA C-PT© Certified
         Princeton Longevity Center

            The two most popular resistance-training programs are the “Agonist-Antagonist Program” and the “Circuit Training Program.” 

            The “Agonist-Antagonist Program” pairs exercises with the agonist (the muscle responsible for the concentric contraction) and the antagonist (muscle responsible for the eccentric contraction).   A typical training split is chest/back, biceps/triceps, quadriceps/hamstrings, etc.  An example of this program would be an exercise such as the triceps extension; the triceps contract when as the arm extends, and the biceps contract on the way back up as the arm flexes.  The biceps curl exercise would follow with the biceps contracting during arm flexion and the triceps contracting during arm extension (down phase).  The reason for this type of resistance training program is to exhaust the muscles in a smaller amount of time by training them as agonists and antagonist muscles. 

            The “Circuit Training Program” consists of one set at each machine with a high number of repetitions for each major muscle group (a circuit).  Rest between exercises is kept to a minimum, lasting no more than 30 seconds during the performance of 2-3 circuits.  The minimal rest between exercises invokes some cardiovascular training, while also toning the muscles.  For individuals looking to tone and burn calories in a short period of time, this is the ideal workout.

Quick Pointers

            Here are some quick facts that might answer some of your questions about your resistance-training program:

v      Free weights should be performed before using the machines

v      Free weights are more effective at building muscle mass

v      Machines are more effective at muscle isolation and muscle toning

v      Due to the micro tears that occur during a bout of resistance training exercises, muscle needs 48 hours of rest time to repair the muscle

v      Consistent weight trainers should increase protein intake to compensate for the increased repair

v      A warm-up is a necessary component of any resistance training program

v      A warm-up should consist of a 5-minute cardiovascular activity and stretching to increase circulation to the exercising muscles, increase heart rate and warm up the connective tissue (muscle, ligaments and tendons).  Follow same rules for cool-down

v      Common mistakes might include over/under training, not warming up or cooling down, using poor form/technique, and using too much weight

v      Weights should be lifted up for a 2-second count and down for a 4 second count…that way the muscles receive a better workout on the down phase as opposed to letting the momentum of the weight control the down phase.


            As previously mentioned, when one performs RT, one causes tears in the muscular tissue.  Amino acids (found in protein) are the component responsible for the repair.  Amino acids are the basic building blocks of muscle.  Therefore, diets that place a higher concentration of protein are necessary for the consistent weight trainer.  The easiest way to figure out how much protein your body needs:

1 gram of protein per kg of body weight     (1 kg = 2.2 lbs)

            A good way to break up the distribution of protein and carbohydrates through the course of a day is to concentrate the carbs earlier in the day to provide the energy during the daytime.  Studies show that carbs are more likely to be stored as fats later in the day because the majority of the population unwinds after dinner by sitting/laying down to watch a movie or television.  Try to follow this ratio of carbs vs. proteins and you will find yourself with more energy for the day and storing less and less fat after dinner.

Breakfast = 75% Carbs: 25% Proteins 

Lunch = 50% Carbs: 50% Proteins 

Dinner = 25% Carbs: 75% Proteins

            Water intake is another primary concern when exercising.  80% of the body consists of water, including the muscles.  Be sure to drink a sufficient amount of caffeine-free and calorie-free liquid, preferably water.  It sounds like a lot, but try to shoot for a gallon a day.

            Supplements are meant to do just what they say, supplement a regular diet to make up for the things that your diet might lack or add a little hear and there.  The public will soon realize that there is no substitute for a healthy, low fat diet, rich in whole grains and fruits and vegetables.  In addition, fruits and vegetables provide the body with so many extras that cannot be found in a bottle such as certain vitamins and minerals, fiber, and anti-oxidants.  Remember, if something is too good to be true…it probably is!

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