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Essentials of Strength Training

This groundbreaking course on strength training is taught by an award-winning instructor and unites the latest science with results-driven practice in a wholly integrated system.
Essentials of Strength Training is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 54.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good for full body cardio limited for bodybuilding The warmups and workouts were all full body cardio workouts that are good for losing fat. The science was well-detailed. However, it offered no body split workouts designed to maximize muscle hypertrophy and little new information on this specialty. The partner workout in Lecture 6 as a solution to people discontinuing going to the gym - or building a home gym and using it, is not realistic. When you begin bodybuilding, you have to accept that your workouts are forever instead of "getting into shape for the beach next Summer." You have to discipline yourself never to set a precedent of skipping a workout "just this once." or you will eventually discontinue your program.
Date published: 2024-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course giving solid understanding I am a regularly exercising recent retiree. Previously did mostly long walks at 4-6 mph pace, with changing tempo, and rowing on Concept-2 machine. I would take this course even if I don't know English; just watching an enthusiastic and friendly Instructor significantly improves the mood, boosts self-confidence and provides a great deal of motivation. The first three lessons give theoretical underpinnings of strength training, of which the Instructor has deep and well thought through knowledge. For instance, he mentions the difference in functioning of eye muscles, which is, I think, a so specialized knowledge that only a specialist deep submerged into the subject could know. To me, the theory lessons were very useful, since this is where I began to understand the PHYSIOLOGY of strength training, as well as of warm-ups and cooldowns. In my view, such acquaintance is important in order to knowledgeably move forward (in fact, in any discipline and trade). About exercises. After one month of training, I am satisfied with (about one kilo) increase of muscle mass and strength. Have to note that I did some obvious adjustments, namely with regard to tempo and number of repetitions. There are complains in reviews that some people cannot follow the tempo, but you don't have to. Exercises are of different level of difficulty; of course one should take the burden right for the present physical condition, and gradually change the course. For some exercises (like the ones with sliding towel under the legs in functional exercises) I started from FOUR repetitions instead of FIFTEEN. Personally, I think the choice of exercises and their sequence are good. Once adjusted for tempo and number of repetitions, I would value their usefulness for myself as high. Plyometric exercises is a new concept for me. Like to do them because of sequence of different movements involved into one exercise, which makes them interesting and somewhat challenging to do. Maybe exercises with a partner are a little less valuable to me, for two reasons. First, I have no such a willing partner I can do all exercises with. Second, one partner is used mostly as an assistant for the other, doing less physical activity (unless the partners switch the roles, and this is what is assumed). At the same time, in my track and field athletics youth we did many exercises with a partner, providing about equal physical load for both. For instance, we stood back to back, stretching arms up and holding each other's hands, and then interchangeably tumbled each other on the backs. You can put your partner's back on yours completely, or only partially, in the upper part, then that would stretch him or her. Another exercise was when one holds the legs of a partner for ankles, while the first walks on arms, which is not easy for both. Personally, I'd love to do a full training with a partner, just have no possibility. Explanations why and how to do warm-ups and cooldowns, say the need to gradually reduce the oxygen content in the blood, or raising the core temperature, and the procedures themselves, are very useful and valuable in my view. There is one more important beneficial thing about these training lessons, at least to myself, which somehow nobody mentions in reviews. This is the CONCEPTUAL component of lessons. The Instructor, in fact, provides CONCEPTS of strength training in theory AND through concrete series of exercises. Once you get these CONCEPTS, you can go further, finding other exercises within the framework of these general concepts for strength training, warm-ups and cooldowns. For instance. You are given the CONCEPT of functional training, which is simultaneous involvement of many muscle groups in one exercise, or even the whole body. You feel it yourself doing exercises. The you can go outside and find other functional exercises. You watch and do exercises and realize: A-ah! A concept of asymmetry in exercises is important! (Like side-ward orientation of the body, side turns, rotations with weights, etc). Recall, the course consists of ONLY SIX lessons. I doubt somebody can give more valuable presentation on the subject in just six lessons than the Instructor did. In my view, the course lays a very solid theoretical, conceptual and practical foundations for strength training. This is true that to extract the CONCEPTS one needs to apply minor additional efforts, but there is no question that these concepts are there, and mostly on the very surface. Another important aspect is this. Regular exercising might be boring, and often is. Variability of exercises helps a lot to make exercising interesting and desirable, without applying will power every time. Once one has a good knowledge of exercising frameworks (and the course gives good knowledge of this framework with a very good content), then introducing variability into exercising program becomes much easier, since you now know what you need, what kind of variability is acceptable, how to warm up properly to be safe, how to cool down, etc. Now you have well defined space for knowledgeable initiative to make training interesting, entertaining, safe and rightly challenging. And there are tons of ways of introducing variability - pace, number of repetitions, cleanness of execution, amplitude, timing, etc. Overall, in my opinion, this is an excellent course for those who want to acquire solid knowledge of strength training fundamentals, both theoretical, practical and conceptual, which will really benefit their health and psychic, and allow to knowledgeably and safely move forward.
Date published: 2022-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good for what it is. I was hoping for more of a theoretical approach t designing a strength training course, but this turned out to be more of an exercise video. Watch me and do what I do sort of thing. My bad for not reading carefully enough, I suppose. Very good AS a training video though.
Date published: 2022-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Informative You really want to get fit? That wasn't really a question. Of course we do. This presentation is really outstanding. I found an abundance of helpful technical and practical information included throughout the lessons. I really appreciate the workouts included in the lessons. I can perform them, as I listen, and watch to make sure that my form is correct. Thank you Dean Hodgkin for your outstanding program.
Date published: 2022-10-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not good Could be better and more positive. Teacher annoying to watch.
Date published: 2022-04-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great warmup exercises Some quality examples of warmup exercises, but I assumed there would be more information/examples of weight training with Olympic style equipmen and machines.
Date published: 2021-09-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Didn’t Work for Me This short (six lectures) course didn’t hit home for me. The first three lectures are more motivational than anything else; I was already motivated enough to buy the course so this did little for me. The last three lectures are sample workouts; the third one requires a partner to do. Thus, this course comes down to two sample workouts. I’m not convinced that they are materially better than what is available on the Internet for free.
Date published: 2021-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Much Appreciated Expert Advice Not a bad pandemic fitness plan. Though some reviews mentioned it is a bit tough for someone 80, not too bad for 60's. My set of 20 set-ups I often do will fit with this whole body workout. Some workout videos I found online target particular muscles. This whole body work out will help for more comprehensive strength training. One reason for seeking a greater level of muscle strength is for personal security, as I have seen indications of a stalker, etc. A higher level of fitness is foundational to self-defense. I have had strong quads in the past, but need stronger overall muscle strength. At the Y I had been evaluated as having flexibility and basic strength as great as someone about twenty years younger when working out there and I had taken a complementary fitness test. I can still palm the floor. I had been able to leg press eight weight increments on the leg press machine there, but light weights in upper body strength. I can build more upper body strength following this expert's advice. His approach is probably vital for self-defense as he has expertise in the karate field.
Date published: 2021-02-14
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Strength training holds the key to unlocking your optimum health and achieving your peak physique, whether you're 28 or 78. When you make strength training a part of your fitness regimen-for only 30-minute sessions two to three times per week-you're taking giant leaps toward improving your health. Now, with the three lessons and three workout sessions of Essentials of Strength Training by international fitness expert Dean Hodgkin, you'll get a program that combines the science of strength training with the workouts themselves.


Dean Hodgkin

Teaching people how the body works and how exercise can be of benefit is my mission in life, hence I'm so grateful for the opportunity to work with The Great Courses.


University of Portsmouth

International fitness expert Dean Hodgkin has presented master classes and seminars to fitness instructors in more than 30 countries. Voted Best International Fitness Presenter at the One Body One World awards in New York, he has appeared on numerous television and radio programs worldwide. A three-time World Karate Champion and a two-time European Karate Champion, Hodgkin earned a B.Sc. honors degree in Mathematics and Management Studies from the University of Portsmouth. He continued his education at Leicester College, where he was awarded the Certificate in Exercise and Health Studies by the Physical Education Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the leading qualification in the field at the time. Since then he has accrued a wide and impressive array of vocational qualifications and is a regular attendee at conferences focused on the latest health and fitness research findings. At the 2012 International Fitness Showcase-Europe's largest group exercise event, attracting more than 7,000 participants-Hodgkin received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his services to the fitness industry.

By This Expert

Physiology and Fitness
Essentials of Strength Training
Essentials of Strength Training


Strength Training-Past, Present, and Future

01: Strength Training-Past, Present, and Future

Take a fascinating look at the history and origins of strength training so you understand what strength training really is and why it's relevant to your life. Then, explore some of the training tools available, including medicine balls, kettlebells, barbells, and resistance bands. Finally, investigate the many ways strength training can treat specific health conditions.

29 min
How Strength Training Benefits Your Body

02: How Strength Training Benefits Your Body

How do your muscles work when you perform simple motions (such as sitting in a chair) or when you lift weights? How does strength training increase your bone density and lower your risk of osteoporosis? What factors determine how much strength you generate from a specific muscle movement? What are the specific guidelines for beginning and advanced strength trainers? What role should strength train...

31 min
Strength Training for Weight Loss

03: Strength Training for Weight Loss

Learn the importance of fat in overall health as well as its hidden dangers. You'll investigate what makes for a healthy rate of weight loss, explore the best ways to successfully lose weight through strength training, examine the inner workings of specific joints and muscles, and more. By the end, you'll see why strength training is the most potent weapon in your arsenal when it comes to the war ...

28 min
Functional Strength Workout

04: Functional Strength Workout

Focus on total functional strength as Mr. Hodgkin guides you through a series of exercises designed to maximize your body's strength and range of motion. Using a body bar, a medicine ball, an Olympic barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, and a mat, you'll learn how to correctly perform exercises including squat presses, front and rear lunges, cyclones, single-arm presses, gecko rows, side planks, abdom...

52 min
Weight Loss and Maintenance Workout

05: Weight Loss and Maintenance Workout

Start building a foundation for maintaining and losing weight through strength training with this challenging and engaging workout. Using just a few simple exercise tools, you'll master the squat jump, the dumbbell curl, the dead lift, the bridge twist, and more. Plus, you'll learn effective ways to combine these exercises and get even more out of your workout.

35 min
Partner Workout

06: Partner Workout

Grab a partner for this dynamic workout that features exercises to cover all your major muscle groups, including legs (calf raises), chest (wheelbarrow press), back (double standing arm row), shoulders (double reverse fly), arms (biceps curl), and abs (standing medicine ball toss).

46 min