General Exercise Course

Welcome to my general exercise course! Here I will attempt to collate the scientific literature with my own real-world experiences mixed in to provide a general blueprint for exercising for general health. I am not perfect and I do not claim this course is perfect, but I have done the best I can to bring forward useful and accurate information that will also be practical. When there is ambiguity in the literature I will try to make this clear and provide all viewpoints fairly.

There are 15 lessons in this course:

  • Lesson 1: Movement Physiology and Strength Training Adaptations
  • Lesson 2: Physiology of Energy Production and Aerobic Training Adaptations
  • Lesson 3: Exercise Guidelines and Health Benefits
  • Lesson 4: Resistance Training Terminology and Concepts
  • Lesson 5: An Evidence-Based Approach to Resistance Training
  • Lesson 6: Autoregulation and Periodization for Resistance Training Progression
  • Lesson 7: Aerobic Training Terminology and Concepts
  • Lesson 8: An Evidence-Based Approach to Aerobic Training, Concurrent Training, and Exercise Safety
  • Lesson 9: Exercise Technique – Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
  • Lesson 10: Exercise Technique – Back and Biceps
  • Lesson 11: Exercise Technique – Glutes and Thighs
  • Lesson 12: Exercise Technique – Abdominals, Forearms, Hands, and Lower Legs
  • Lesson 13: Home-Based Workout Programs and Alternate Progression/Set/Rep Schemes
  • Lesson 14: Gym-Based Workout Programs and How to Adjust When Progress Stalls
  • Lesson 15: Miscellaneous Topics
  • Lesson 1: Movement Physiology and Strength Training Adaptations
    • overview of movement
    • strength training adaptations
  • Lesson 2: Physiology of Energy Production and Aerobic Training Adaptations
    • overview of enegy production
    • aerobic training adaptations
  • Lesson 3: Exercise Guidelines and Health Benefits
    • 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
    • 2020 World Health Organization guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior
    • other health benefits of exercise indicated by the literature
    • potential health concerns of excessive exercise
    • use caution with certain health conditions and undesirable symptoms
  • Lesson 4: Resistance Training Terminology and Concepts
    • individual repetitions
    • individual sets
    • rest periods
    • program structure
    • progression
    • list of all terms
  • Lesson 5: An Evidence-Based Approach to Resistance Training
    • effective rep ranges for hypertrophy and strength adaptations
    • sets needed per muscle group per week for continued progress
    • optimal tempo for each repetition
    • full vs partial range of motion
    • how close to failure one should train
    • effective rest periods between sets
    • training frequency throughout the week
    • summary infographic
  • Lesson 6: Autoregulation and Periodization for Resistance Training Progression
    • linear progression – good for complete beginners
    • autoregulated approaches
    • periodization approaches
  • Lesson 7: Aerobic Training Terminology and Concepts
    • physiologic determinants of endurance performance
    • how to gauge aerobic exercise intensity
    • types of training sessions
    • training distribution
  • Lesson 8: An Evidence-Based Approach to Aerobic Training, Concurrent Training, and Exercise Safety
    • aerobic exercise structure: interval and continuous training
    • concurrent training and the interference effect
    • safety considerations when starting exercise programs
  • Lesson 9: Exercise Technique – Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
    • basic structure-function relationship of the key muscles
    • compound exercises
    • isolation exercises
  • Lesson 10: Exercise Technique – Back and Biceps
    • basic structure-function relationship of the key muscles
    • compound exercises
    • isolation exercises
  • Lesson 11: Exercise Technique – Glutes and Thighs
    • basic structure-function relationship of the key uscles
    • compound exercises
    • isolation exercises
  • Lesson 12: Exercise Technique – Abdominals, Forearms, Hands, and Lower Legs
    • basic structure-function relationship of the key muscles
    • specific exercises
  • Lesson 13: Home-Based Workout Programs and Alternate Progression/Set/Rep Schemes
    • home-based exercise programs
    • progression schemes and alternative sets and reps considerations
    • choosing progression schemes for the home-based exercise programs
  • Lesson 14: Gym-Based Workout Programs and How to Adjust When Progress Stalls
    • simple full body routines
    • more complex full body routines
    • split routines
    • how to change your workout program when progress stalls
  • Lesson 15: Miscellaneous Topics
    • how to maintain progress if you have to cut back on training time
    • what to do if you are injured
    • special considerations for pediatric, elderly, and pregnant populations
    • nutrition and hydration when exercising regularly
    • warming-up and cooling-down
    • athletic/mobility/conditioning exercises
    • individual variability in responses to exercise programs
  • Lesson 1: Movement Physiology and Strength Training Adaptations
    • overview of movement
      • central and peripheral nervous systems
      • skeletal muscle structure
      • neuromuscular junction
      • action potential propagation
      • skeletal muscle contraction
      • sliding filament theory
      • movement generation
      • length-tension relationship
      • motor unit recruitment, rate coding, and the force-velocity relationship
      • muscle fiber types
      • pennation angle
      • summary of movement
    • strength training adaptations
  • Lesson 2: Physiology of Energy Production and Aerobic Training Adaptations
    • overview of energy production
      • adenosine triphosphate (“ATP”) production
      • the respiratory system
      • the heart
      • the circulatory system
      • summary of energy production
    • aerobic training adaptations
  • Lesson 3: Exercise Guidelines and Health Benefits
    • 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAGA)
      • recommended physical activity levels
      • definitions of physical activity intensity
      • health benefits when following the guidelines
    • 2020 World Health Organization guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior
    • 2021 physical activity guidelines for obesity in adults
    • other health benefits of exercise indicated by the literature
    • potential health concerns of excessive exercise
    • use caution with certain health conditions and undesirable symptoms
  • Lesson 4: Resistance Training Terminology and Concepts
    • individual repetitions
    • individual sets
    • rest periods
    • program structure
    • progression
    • list of all terms
  • Lesson 5: An Evidence-Based Approach to Resistance Training
    • effective rep ranges for hypertrophy and strength adaptations
      • what the research suggests
      • practical application
    • sets needed per muscle group per week for continued progress
      • what the research suggests
      • practical application
    • optimal tempo for each repetition
      • what the research suggests
      • practical application
    • full vs partial range of motion
      • what the research suggests
      • practical application
    • how close to failure one should train
      • what the research suggests
      • practical application
    • effective rest periods between sets
      • what the research suggests
      • practical application
    • training frequency throughout the week
      • what the research suggests
      • practical application
    • summary infographic
  • Lesson 6: Autoregulation and Periodization for Resistance Training Progression
    • linear progression – good for a complete beginner
      • how to account for delayed-onset muscular soreness (“DOMS”)
    • autoregulated approaches
      • daily adjustable progressive resistive exercise (“DAPRE”)
      • flexible nonlinear periodization (“FNLP”)
      • rating of perceived exertion (“RPE”)
      • repetitions in reserve (“RIR”)
      • velocity-based training (“VBT”)
      • using autoregulation to guide progression
    • periodization approaches
      • underlying theory of periodization
      • brief examples of programming for periodization
      • overview of recent literature regarding periodization
      • summary of periodization
  • Lesson 7: Aerobic Training Terminology and Concepts
    • physiologic determinants of endurance performance
      • VO2 max
      • running economy
      • lactate threshold
    • how to gauge aerobic exercise intensity
      • heart rate max and reserve
      • defining intensity range
    • types of training sessions
      • continuous training
      • interval training
    • training distribution
      • if training for a competition
      • if training for general health and fitness
  • Lesson 8: An Evidence-Based Approach to Aerobic Training, Concurrent Training, and Exercise Safety
    • aerobic exercise structure: interval and continuous training
      • research evaluating interval training
      • summary of research evaluating interval training
      • comparison of interval and continuous training
      • summary of research comparing continuous and interval training
    • concurrent training and the interference effect
      • research evaluating the acute impact of the interference effect on concurrent training
      • summary of the acute impact of the interference effect on concurrent training
      • research evaluating the chronic impact of concurrent training on strength and aerobic outcomes
      • summary of the chronic impact of concurrent training on strength and aerobic outcomes
    • safety considerations when starting exercise programs
      • summary of safety considerations when beginning to exercise
  • Lesson 9: Exercise Technique – Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps
    • please read this
    • basic structure-function relationships of the key muscles
      • chest – pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, and serratus anterior
      • shoulders – deltoids, rotator cuff, and coracobrachialis
      • triceps – triceps brachii
    • compound exercises
      • barbell bench press
      • machine/cable chest press
      • dumbbell bench press
      • overhead press
      • dips
      • push-up variations
      • upright rows
    • isolation exercises
      • chest fly
      • serratus anterior exercises
      • shoulder raises
      • rotator cuff exercises
      • tricep extensions
      • tricep pushdowns
  • Lesson 10: Exercise Technique – Back and Biceps
    • basic structure-function relationships of the key muscles
      • back – latissium dorsi, trapezius, rhomboids (major and minor), teres major, levator scapulae, erector spinae
      • biceps – biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis
    • compound exercises
      • pull-ups/chin-ups
      • pulldowns
      • rows
      • inverted rows
    • isolation exercises
      • latissimus dorsi
      • biceps
      • erector spinae
      • scapular exercises
  • Lesson 11: Exercise Technique – Glutes and Thighs
    • basic structure-function relationships of the key muscles
      • thigh (anterior compartment) – iliopsoas, quadriceps, and sartorius
      • thigh (medial compartment) – hip adductors and obturator externus
      • thigh (posterior compartment) – hamstrings
      • gluteal region – gluteus maximus/medius/minimus, tensor fasciae latae, deeper hip muscles
    • compound exercises
      • squat movements
      • squat-mimicking movements
      • lunges
      • step-ups
      • bulgarian split squats
      • deadlift movements
      • glute-ham raise (GHR) movements
      • good morning movements
      • reverse hyperextension movements
    • isolation exercises
      • leg extension movements
      • leg curls
      • hip extension
      • hip external rotation
      • hip internal rotation
      • hip abduction
      • hip adduction
  • Lesson 12: Exercise Technique – Abdominals, Forearms, Hands, and Lower Legs
    • basic structure-function relationship of the key muscles
      • abdominal muscles
      • forearm muscles – anterior portion
      • forearm muscles – posterior portion
      • hand muscles
      • lower leg muscles – anterior, posterior, and lateral portions
    • specific exercises
      • core flexion exercises
      • core rotation exercises
      • forearm movements
      • hand movements
      • posterior lower leg movements
      • anterior lower leg movements
      • ankle and foot movements
  • Lesson 13: Home-Based Workout Programs and Alternate Progression/Set/Rep Schemes
    • home-based exercise programs
      • full body routine in the home without purchasing extra equipment
      • full body routine in the home with purchasing extra equipment
      • summary of home-based exercise programs
    • progression schemes and alternative sets & reps considerations
    • choosing progression schemes for the home-based exercise programs
      • instances where it is difficult to incrementally increase the load
      • exercises involving larger muscle groups where it is difficult to use sufficient resistance
      • resistance band exercises where there is a big jump in resistance between the bands
    • shorter program example
  • Lesson 14: Gym-Based Workout Programs and How to Adjust When Progress Stalls
    • simple full body routines
      • 3 day full body program with linear progression and undulating periodization
      • 2 day full body program with linear progression and undulating periodization
      • 3 day full body program with alternating sessions and linear progression
      • 3 day full body program with optional isolation exercises and linear progression
      • summary of the simple full body routines
    • more complex full body routines
      • 2 day full body program with linear progression, autoregulation, and linear periodization
      • 3 day full body program with linear progression, autoregulation, and linear periodization
      • 4 day full body program with linear progression, autoregulation, and linear periodization
      • summary of the more complex full body routines
    • split routines
      • 4 day upper/lower split with linear progression, autoregulation, and linear periodization
      • 4 day anterior/posterior split with linear progression, autoregulation, and linear periodization
      • 5 day push/pull/lower/upper/lower split with linear progression, autoregulation, volume ramping, and linear periodization
      • 6 day push/pull/lower split with linear progression, autoregulation, volume ramping, and linear periodization
      • summary of the split routines
    • how to change your workout program when progress stalls
      • if you are a beginner
      • if you are beyond the beginner stage
      • summary of how to change your workout program when progress stalls
  • Lesson 15: Miscellaneous Topics
    • how to maintain progress if you have to cut back on training time
    • what to do if you are injured
    • special considerations for pediatric populations
      • summary of considerations for pediatric populations
    • special considerations for elderly populations
      • safety considerations
      • programming variables
      • additional considerations for elderly with frailty
      • considerations of comorbidities
      • summary of considerations for elderly populations
    • special considerations for pregnant populations
      • contraindications to exercising while pregnant
      • how to exercise safely during pregnancy
      • how much exercise to perform while pregnant
      • summary of considerations for pregnant populations
    • nutrition and hydration when exercising regularly
      • standard recommendations for nutrition in the context of exercising regularly
      • fluid replacement
      • peri-workout nutrition
    • warming-up and cooling-down
      • warming-up
      • cooling down
      • summary and recommendations
    • athletic/conditioning/mobility exercises
      • explosive lifts
      • mobility exercises
      • conditioning exercises
      • plyometric exercises
      • how to include these exercises in your exercise program
    • individual variability in responses to exercise programs

The course will work best if you go through the lessons in order, though that is not critical. However, I do encourage you to at least look through the list of terms at the bottom of Lesson 4 prior to reading further about resistance training aspects; the terms are presented in the order they appear in the lesson. Additionally, please read the top portion of Lesson 9 (through the “please read this” section) prior to reading the remainder of Lessons 9, 10, 11, and 12.

This course is written for all ages. Of note, in Lesson 15 I specifically discuss guidance pertaining to children, pregnant individuals, and elderly adults, but much of the information presented prior to this pertains to everyone. I do encourage you to read the relevant sections in Lesson 15 prior to applying the rest of the information to children, pregnant individuals, and elderly adults.

Much of the information in this course applies to adults with a variety of different medical conditions and while on multiple medications, and I try to make it clear when it is most important to consult your healthcare provider. However, I cannot account for every possible scenario, and thus if you have any baseline health conditions or are on any chronic medications and you are not confident it is safe to start exercising, I do encourage you to contact your healthcare provider to be sure.

If after going through the course anything is unclear, if you feel I have left out any pertinent topics, if you believe there is any relevant literature that I did not include, or if you think I am simply wrong about anything, please contact me and if indicated I will edit the course.

With all of that said, please enjoy! You can click to whichever lesson you wish to begin below. Additionally, you will probably find your viewing experience to be improved if you go through this on a computer as opposed to a phone as there may be issues with resizing of the images on a smaller screen. That said, you will still be able to read all of the content on a phone, it will just be a little less visually appealing.

This course is currently updated with literature through June, 2021.

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