By Jim White

The summer is here and whether you want a 6-pack, broader shoulders, a chiseled chest or A beach-ready body, strength training should be a key component of your fitness plan. Even though hitting the weights will get you toned, there is a method to building a body like Atlas! Many men go into the gym with no rhyme or reason. For instance, going to the gym only to hit a few sets on various machines, riding on the bike for ten minutes, and having a so-so diet will not necessarily get that buffed body that you have always dreamed! To really improve muscular strength and endurance there are many factors that need to be incorporated into your fitness strategy.

This article is featured in our Hit The Beach feature series.


First off you have to know the basics:

Weight Training
Reps: Reps are the combination of moving a weight or body part from point A to point B. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it is recommend that we perform 8-12 reps per working set to achieve maximum strength development.
Sets: When training larger muscles (Chest, Back, Legs) shoot for 10-12 sets per body part, smaller muscles such as (Shoulder, Triceps and Biceps) try for 8-11 sets per body part.
Exercises: To gain more variety out of your workout, shoot for 3-4 exercises per body part. For instance on your “chest day” you may benefit from doing barbell chest press, followed by incline dumbbell presses, cable flys, and push-ups.
Time in between sets: In order to achieve maximum muscle growth, it is recommended to take a 1-2 minute rest between sets.
Overload principle: You want to select a weight that you can perform 8-12 reps with proper form. If you perform less than 8 reps per set then decrease weight. If you achieve more than 12 reps per set then increase the weight. Remember, progression is key when it comes to intensity. Increase your weight by 5% a week to maximize your muscle growth.
Rest and Recovery: Rest days are just as important as workout days. It is during this period where your muscles grow. Give yourself at least 48 hours before training the same body part.
Full range of motion: Always train within the full range of motion. In other words, pull and push as far as you’re supposed to.
Rep Speed: Take your reps slow-Take two full seconds to lift the weight up and 2-4 seconds to lower it. This ensures safe form decreasing the risk of injuries.
Training Splits: There are a number of ways to split up your training. You can train upper body on one day and the lower body on another day or you can perform the push/pull method. On push days perform chest, shoulders, and triceps, and on pull days perform back and biceps. To be beach-body ready, it is recommend to train with weight anywhere from 3-5 days a week. Follow any of these training splits in order to achieve maximum muscle growth.


3-Day Spilt Monday: Chest Shoulders, Triceps Wednesday: Legs, Abs Friday: Back, Biceps
4-Day Split Monday: Chest, Triceps Tuesday: Back, Abs Thursday: Legs Friday: Shoulders. Biceps
5-Day Split Monday: Chest Tuesday: Back Wednesday: Legs Thursday: Shoulders, Triceps Friday: Biceps, Abs

As far as the actual workout, just pick up a fitness book, magazine, dvd, or hire a personal trainer to develop a routine that is unique to you.

Cardiovascular Training
In order to keep the fat off, cardio is essential. Try keeping your intensity at a moderate level (being able to carry on a conversation while exercising). Shoot for no less than twenty minutes and no more than one hour per session. Depending on your fitness level and goals, beginners may benefit from performing cardio 2-3 days a week, intermediate 3-4, and advanced 4-6 days a week.

Proper Nutrition
Here are a few tips to keep you at your fitness best!


  • Eat 4-6 small meals a day.
  • Never skip breakfast.
  • Incorporate a starch and protein at each meal.
  • Incorporate all whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean protein, and essential fats to your meal plan.
  • Shoot to drink at least 64 oz. of water daily.
  • Limit white carbohydrate sources, high-saturated fatty foods, alcohol, and sugars.
  • Try not to eat three hours before bed time.

So you see there is a method to the muscle madness. Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day and our bodies can’t be either. No one said this was going to be easy but we have the biggest motivator in our corner to guide us through—GOD! If you are getting tired and feel like giving up just follow Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
So be consistent while incorporating weight training and cardiovascular activity with the proper nutrition and you will be beach-body ready in no time!



Jim White is a registered dietitian/ACSM Health Fitness Instructor and owner of Jim White Fitness Studios (Studio #1 located on Shore Drive and Studio #2 located on Laskin Rd in Virginia Beach, Virginia.) He is a freelance fitness writer, lead dietitian for Farm Fresh grocery stores, Radio Disney and spokesman for health and fitness for many local/national organizations. Jim White Fitness Studios offers personal training, nutrition consulting, personal training certification classes, corporate training, and kitchen makeover programs. For more information, visit Jim’s website or call 757-422-4728.


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