Essentials of Strength Training

Course No. 1902
Dean Hodgkin, B.Sc
University of Portsmouth
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4 out of 5
46 Reviews
71% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 1902
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Course Overview

This groundbreaking course on strength training unites scientific knowledge with results-driven practice in a wholly integrated system. With 3 lectures designed to educate you on your body's response to a variety of exercises plus 3 workouts, this course will help you build a stronger body.

We're all on a lifelong quest for that one secret or tool that will enhance our personal health, fight the negative effects of aging, and change our lives forever. Yet that secret has actually been hidden in plain sight all along. Strength training holds the key to unlocking your optimum health and achieving your peak physique, whether you're 28 or 78.

While many people are intimidated by exercises involving weights and resistance or think the sole purpose is to build Herculean muscles, the truth is that strength training is a vital component of even basic fitness; one that can—and should—be a part of everyone's fitness regimen. No matter what your age or fitness level, strength training is an essential counterpoint to any cardio exercise you may already be doing. It's also a chance to transform your body in a manner that's more responsible, healthy, and effective than any fad diet or infomercial exercise machine that targets only a single muscle group.

And medical experts agree: 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. You'll

  • halt and, in some cases, reverse muscle loss and other changes that come with age;
  • ward off, lessen, and even reverse the effects of back pain and other chronic health conditions;
  • enhance your ability to lose weight;
  • improve your memory and the quality of your sleep;
  • reduce symptoms associated with anxiety and depression; and
  • improve your flexibility, balance, and coordination.

Of course, anyone can just take a trip to the gym and start strength training. What you can't get anywhere else: a program that combines the science of strength training with the workouts themselves. Essentials of Strength Training, our engaging course of three preparatory lessons and three workout sessions, does just that. Crafted by popular Great Courses instructor and international fitness expert Dean Hodgkin, it offers you medically sound and authoritative information to significantly boost your strength and your overall health. With insightful explanations of human physiology, helpful demonstrations of techniques and equipment, and interactive workout programs that show you the right way to perform dozens of exercises, this course is your chance to take a big step toward changing your life for good.

Explore the Science behind Your Strength

What makes Essentials of Strength Training unlike your average fitness program or gym routine is its focus on the science behind your muscular strength. With the skill of someone whose career is dedicated to educating clients about the life-transforming benefits of physical fitness, Mr. Hodgkin uses 3-D animations, models, and green-screen technology to reveal a wealth of information on human physiology as it relates to how your muscles work and how you can make them stronger.

You'll discover

  • how different strength-training exercises work on different muscle groups;
  • how your muscles work, grow, and repair themselves; and
  • how your body gains fat and how you can use strength training to promote weight loss.

You'll also get tips for making the most of your workout and for crafting a strength-training program that fits your specific needs and goals, such as these:

  • Start with light resistance to allow your muscles to acclimate to increased weight loads.
  • Opt for standing rather than seated exercises, as these promote balance and coordination.
  • Perform a workout routine in reverse order as an easy way to stimulate greater progress.

Exercise Your Way to a Stronger You

Once you've gotten the scientific concepts down, you're ready to start working out. Essentials of Strength Training comes with three in-depth workout sessions that let you put what you've learned to practical use. These 30-minute workouts are short enough to fit into the busiest of lives. And unlike working out in a gym studio, you can always pause the course to practice your form, do the workout twice in a row, and mix and match exercises to strengthen and tone your body whenever you have spare time. You'll also have the opportunity to mix and match warm-ups and cooldowns.

Each workout focuses on a key aspect or benefit of strength training.

  • Functional Strength Workout: Mr. Hodgkin's functional strength-training workout uses squat presses, lunges, planks, abdominal pikes, and other exercises that strengthen your core, improve your balance, and train your muscles so that you gain fitness you'll use in everyday movements.
  • Weight Loss and Maintenance Workout: This intense workout, with its short bursts of high-intensity exercise, results in an increased metabolic rate—which can lead to more effective fat burning.
  • Partner Workout: Working out with a partner can provide a unique resistance tool, challenge your body in new ways, and motivate you to stay on track.

Empower Yourself for Life

With Mr. Hodgkin as your instructor, you'll quickly get over any trepidation you may feel about strength training. As he delivers his lectures, he's authoritative and informative, and he makes the science easy to grasp. And as he guides you through his workouts, he's motivational and encouraging. It's the perfect combination for easing yourself into a new level of fitness and personal wellness that can empower you for life.

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6 lectures
 |  Average 36 minutes each
  • 1
    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. x
  • 2
    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 training play in flexibility and children’s fitness? Get scientifically backed answers to these and other questions on strength training and your body. x
  • 3
    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 on excess weight. x
  • 4
    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, abdominal pikes, and oblique crunches. x
  • 5
    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. x
  • 6
    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). x

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Your professor

Dean Hodgkin

About Your Professor

Dean Hodgkin, B.Sc
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...
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Essentials of Strength Training is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 46.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informative and effective workout program I bought this a month ago and so happy I did. The course is very informative and the workouts effective. I feel stronger and look better. Due to the workouts, my lower back pain is gone.
Date published: 2018-09-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Workouts great; health tips not The workout descriptions and demonstrations themselves are very helpful and well presented, though beginners will need to start very slowly, doing many fewer reps to start, and resting much longer between exercises than the demonstrators. As a physician and medical lecturer myself, I can say that the lectures on relevance to medical diseases and health are at best superficial and at worst misleading.
Date published: 2018-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Teaching an old Dog New Tricks I have been working with weights since 1955 and this is the my first view in to the technical side of the process. Great supplement to my regular work out
Date published: 2018-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Corrected a lot of my mistakes! This course was well worth the money and time I spent watching it. He also corrected several misconceptions and mistakes I was doing in my own personal training.
Date published: 2017-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from essential of strength training I like they layout of the course. The instructor was easily understood and explained in detail.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I love the courses Good presentation, good topics, and knowledgeable instructors.
Date published: 2017-06-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Essentials of Strength Training Did cover what I excepted, very little about strength training. It was more about overall conditioning
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good information with clunky controls I appreciate the background information but don't much care if strength training was done in Egypt thousands of years ago. Dean Hodgkin is very good at presenting and the health background and benefits are motivating. The warm-up, work-out, cool-down format is great along with a decent choice of weights, but the DVD controls are a pain. There is no chapter list to allow skipping the intro materials so each time I want to have Dean lead me through the workout, I have to skip through many segments, ugh!
Date published: 2017-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essentials of Strength Training Having type 2 diabetes the weight seemed to add on and on. With this coarse I learned how important it is to strength train along with regular exercise. I not only feel better but I look better with this course. Lucky me, I had to buy new clothes.
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not for seniors The instructor is engaging and knowledgeable, although the first lectures may be somewhat overladen with latin names for parts of the body, very few of which I will remember. My main point of this review, however, is to say that I think the exercises are ill-suited for seniors. They are much too difficult, and not easily modified. I have been doing strength exercises using weight machines at a local gym and had hoped that this course might offer additional or alternative exercises that would work the body in ways that machines don't. In fact the course does offer such exercises, but not at a level that's accessible to me or, in my opinion, to most people who have reached Medicare age.
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good basics This is a well presented set of basic information and exercises for improving your health and strength.
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All my comments are very positive. What I found somewhat strange was that the course leader pronounced strength as strenth. A bit east London perhaps?
Date published: 2016-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Very Good Course The reviews I have seen that criticize the course say (in essence) that it's not for beginners or that it moves too fast and older people won't be able to keep up with it. I don't understand either complaint. I've been exercising (on and off) for decades now, and this is exactly the kind of course I wish I'd had as a beginner. Indeed, the information on how muscles work, and how to exercise them, is valuable to anyone, at any level, who does not already understand the information. The exercise demonstrations do maintain an energetic pace (which we should gradually aim for). But why criticize that? Watch them to see how the exercises are supposed to be done, then pause the DVD while you do an exercise, then resume and move to the next exercise. There is no reason anyone must try to keep up with the DVD's tempo. This course presents good scientific information and many good exercises, and does so without wasting time. I recommend it. (I give it 4 rather than 5 stars because some of the course is used to address warming up and stretching--which are important subjects, and well presented, but which I probably won't do, though I no doubt SHOULD.) Finally, the question has been asked about necessary exercise equipment. From what I saw, there isn't much that is necessary--though certainly some sort of hand-held weight is necessary (eventually, at least). And as you get stronger you might need or want to add more weights (dumbbells, etc.)
Date published: 2016-06-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good on how muscle benefits the body This is good basic weight training information. After shoulder muscle/tendon injuries, surgeries, and atrophy I was interested in how the muscles work together and what strengthening exercises build what muscles so that I could work on those issues. That is covered in some instances with graphics and explanations that show a few but many are not, Weak shoulders are a problem with many of us old folks, just about everyone I know has had rotator cuff surgery, and it is a complicated joint with many muscles involved. The rotator cuff is mentioned several times but not the entire group which forms the cuff, or the other muscles contributing to strong shoulders or exercises to strengthen the entire upper back. Some of the exercises require substantial strength to perform, much more than I have, but they can probably be modified. Overall it's a good course.
Date published: 2016-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Knowledgable Knowledgeable and concise. Not a lot of unnecessary information. I have been using strength training for about 28 years and was looking for some new ideas. The professor was passionate and informed. I enjoyed the course
Date published: 2016-06-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Essentials of Strength Training Very good course for the beginner or some experience for someone who wants to know about the muscle groups and proper technique. Very good instructor!
Date published: 2016-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from No More Excuses! This course is compelling. It's hard to turn it off. The information is so easy to understand and one topic pulls your interest into the next one. Great information for people who were or are too shy or ashamed to go to a gym or to ask for help.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Check it out from the library first As the mixed reviews indicate, this is not a one-size-fits-all course. The field is well plowed, many, many DVDs on exercise and fitness on the market, and it seems this is an attempt to tap into that market by teachco. Whether the contents match your needs is personal, and this is a new area for teachco, and one where they are having at best mixed success. I viewed my local library's copy, I won't be buying one for the home. it's okay, but it won't replace my Tai Chi daily routine (there is some Tai Chi in this course, but it's not very good). I looked at it because of the brand, I think others do it better.
Date published: 2015-02-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from OK, good information Sometimes the professor's accent is hard to understand. I think it is a South African accent, but I'm not sure. Fortunately, rewind is only a button away.
Date published: 2014-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointed I'm not sure what I was expecting. it's hard to follow the science portion. I don't know if it's the material, his accent,/voice, or the pace. The exercise classes were not what I expected either. I guess I thought it would have been a more methodical approach to strength training...
Date published: 2014-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great value, especially for "cross training" I strongly recommend this overview and workout brief as a compendium of best practice, explained and illustrated. I find it especially valuable as reminder of best "cross training" for distance running. The presentation format explains what body areas are in focus, by anatomical overlays not usually found. The presentation style is informative, humorous, and fun. My background is that I primarily use distance running as a base, and previously have used martial arts as "cross training" for strength, flexibility, and balance. I have run Boston as a qualified runner in years past, and achieved a black belt in Shotokan karate. The reason I like this book is that, at 68, with on and off heavy work and travel schedules, I've often changed routines (a good thing), but forgotten what worked in rotation and why. This brings the best all back, by a world class karate champ. I intend to get the "Physiology", also by Hodgkin, because I'm also incorporating swimming, and I'd like to see his presentation on this and other extended workout subjects.
Date published: 2014-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Valuable Info Lots of information presented in an understandable way. And killer exercise routines!
Date published: 2014-09-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The course was engaging and full of information. I am happy that I have the course to refer back to. Just what I needed to take my fitness level up a notch!
Date published: 2013-09-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Basic but good The initial lectures on the theory of strength training contained useful information and was well presented by Prof Hodgkin. He delivered the information in a simple and easy to understand manner suitable for a range of people from beginners to intermediate trainers. The last 3 lectures contained some actual training routines which were useful. However, I would have preferred a little more theory. Also, given the influence of drugs in sport, particularly in strength type sports, I would have liked a lecture on this. Overall, a basic series on strength training, suitable for those who want a bit of theory and then want to get straight into a workout.
Date published: 2013-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from USEFUL, LOW BUDGET, GEEZER FRIENDLY As someone bumping into the mid eighties, I found this brief lecture series quite helpful. However, as one reviewer pointed out, the lack of an accompanying course guidebook is a real disadvantage. The lecturer makes it clear that the props employed in the series can have substitutes in most cases. Those he does use are readily available at sporting goods stores. I imagine they can also be obtained on the internet. The series begins with two lectures devoted to the science involved in building strength. Employing the degree and intensity of workouts contained in the subsequent exercise lectures are really up to the viewer who wishes to follow his suggestions. Coming off three back surgeries in two years myself, I found the general theme of the suggested exercises track pretty much the therapy protocols employed by the institutions who handled my recovery. This series is "user friendly" in the sense one can take from it what one wishes in terms of specific suggestions for exercises. The degree of tempo and repetition is up to one's own judgement and limitations. The series is not, in my mind, some sort of "silver bullet" that if religiously and literally followed will lead one to super strength. Maybe it would, but it does not appear to be that sort of program. What's advertised on TV would be the avenue to explore if one wishes that sort of help. Thus, it could be some of the earlier reviews reflect an expectation that the series does not appear designed to answer. For the individual seeking general advice and suggestions, this series is recommended. To my fellow geezers who may read this review, I would say don't be afraid to buy it and try it.
Date published: 2013-05-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Impressed! I expected to be disappointed by this video because I wondered how much new information it would include. In fact, I ended up learning quite a bit from it! I thought it was well presented and quite comprehensive. It does not include a built in program usable by everyone and the work-out portions are more informational than perhaps realistic for all. Nevertheless I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it!
Date published: 2013-04-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Valuable Course, Valid Criticisms I think there are two primary problems with this course. Firstly, the course description promises way too much; secondly, there is a disconnect between the lectures and at least one of the workouts. More on that later. I have good things to say also so stay tuned. What folks should know is that this course is not a System, or a Method, or a specific prescription for strength training. Mr. Hodgkin presents general guidelines for a strength training regimen plus the variables you can tweak to optimize your workout depending on your needs. You will still have to invest quite a bit of mental energy and trial and error into building a routine. The three workouts, I think, are best used as a collection of suggested individual exercises for inclusion in a routine, and not as workouts to be done in their entirety. This course is merely one resource out of many that I use for strength training. The lectures include quite a bit of excellent and timely discussion about the benefits of strength training to the aging and the overweight. And here is where the disconnect rears its ugly head. The lecture topics set us up to expect accessible exericses. The first and third workouts in my opinion do offer at least a few exercises that most ambulatory folks can do. The weight loss workout, however, is advanced and will also challenge those with joint and back issues (like me). I love and admire many obese people, but I can't see some of them doing fast burpees with plyometrics thrown in for fun. On the plus side, the presentation and production of this course are significantly improved over the full Fitness course. Hodgkin's presentation skills are markedly better (congratulations), enough for me to be inspired to improve my own in my profession. Another improvement is that each workout has its own warm up and cool down, and you can easily skip over each workout introduction. The Tai Chi cooldown is lovely and left me wanting more. The course lecture material validated some of the things I had figured out about myself. For one, that I don't have too many fast twitch fibers. That's ok, because I think it's better to endure than to explode, although explosions hog all the press. Finally, there's something wonderful in this course. And that is the third workout, which isn't really about strengthening the body. It's about strengthening communication, trust, and the bond between two people. I think this workout is an absolutely brilliant example of out-of-the-box thinking.
Date published: 2013-03-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from One size fits all The first few lectures on the value and ways to do strength training are interesting.The descriptions of the muscle groups and how they work are also educational. However, the exercise routines are performed by young people and I cannot imagine most 70 year olds keeping up with the pace of the recommended exercises. It would have been useful to have the author explain who this strength training is for and what is recommended for different age groups.
Date published: 2013-03-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not for the beginner This is hardly a strength training program for the unititiated.The pace is extremely quick and, inspite of the disclaimer, a multitude of exercise equipment is required to duplicate the routines. A better presentation would have included routines at a variety of levels for different age groups. I doubt that many seniors could keep up with the flow and intensity.
Date published: 2013-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from power up Having now watched this series twice, I’m surprised at the low evaluations to date. Moreover, it’s disconcerting that several reviewers offer no specific details as to why they were unsatisfied. I workout quite a bit at the gym, but I’m mostly interested in running and rowing. I thought this was a very good supplement to Physiology and Fitness. Sure, the last 3 lectures include warm-up segments that may feel rudimentary for advanced athletes. And it’s about strength training, not body building. I’d also like to point out that lectures 1-3 were adequately academic and peppered with references to journals and studies, giving the course more credibility. Again, I was more than satisfied and I am making subtle changes to my own workout regime. It’s easy to watch on a tablet before/after a workout. Most relevant for me is just having a wider variety of activities to break up my routine, and just as important, doing them with proper technique. It was through these courses that I figured out exactly why I had tendonitis in my knee. This course also sparked lively discussion about some myths discussed here. The most intriguing part of the course for me was focus on muscle movement, notably in Lecture 3 at about the 20 minute mark. As it seems just an introduction to the topic, I want to suggest that TGC and Dean Hodgkin team up for another 6-lecture course on muscle movements and beef it up with more of those animations. I think this topic would be invaluable to fitness enthusiasts. More specifically, I’m now more interested in adopting weekly workouts based on the push/pull concept rather than upper body/lower body. Devoting 6 lectures to this topic would make my day. Who’s it for? Really anyone who enjoys fitness will benefit, especially if you liked Physiology and Fitness (the full course). Who is it not for? Tough guys wanting to get ripped in 6 weeks or less. As for cons, there’s no Guidebook, so you have to take notes on your own. Actually, there is fair bit of new terminology and physiology along the way that’s worth keeping in mind. The last lecture is not useful if you have no partner.
Date published: 2013-03-10
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