Whether your goal is to improve muscle tone or increase muscle mass, lifting weights can help you get there. Resistance training, or weight training helps you build stronger, leaner muscles in addition to strengthening your bones and joints and keeping your metabolic rate high so you can burn calories even when you’re resting.
If you’re new to the weight room, it can seem extremely daunting as you watch other pop a squat or deadlift. You’re probably wondering how you are supposed to know if the weight you’re picking up is too light, too heavy or just right for your fitness level. One of the key things to remember is that weight lifting encompasses a wide variety of exercises that actually mimic your daily activities before progressing onto advanced power-lifting moves. So if you’ve never done any resistance training before, it’s never too late to start. We’ll share a few tips and tricks that’ll help you make the most of your session. Are you ready?
Start with your own body weight
Your own weight totally counts in weight training. Strength training means using resistance to create work for your muscles. Over time, you can add external weight into the mix, but weight lifters for beginners starts out simply with your own body weight. Body weight exercises are extremely helpful in understanding all the main movement patterns in strength training.
Keep your form proper
Even before you pick up any weights, make sure your form is impeccable. If you can, try seeking help from a personal trainer to help you understand the basics of strength training. A personal trainer will help you master basic movements that will then set the foundation for more complex workout routines by suggesting real-time corrections to your form.
Invest in some equipment
While the initial stages of the workout will involve using your own body weight, over time you’ll need to incorporate equipment into your weight training plan. Keeping dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands within reach will help you level up your workout when your body is ready.
Warm up before working out
Never underestimate the importance of a proper warm-up. It’s important to wake up your muscles before you start grinding, and a great way to do this is using a foam roller. This loosens up tight muscles and sets them in motion for the workout. Dynamic warm-ups involve you moving around to ready your muscles for the work they’re about to do—think jogging, star jumps and active stretching. Remember: A warm-up involves you waking your muscles up with rapid movements. You can stretch during your cool down too, but the key will be slowing down the move to feel the stretch.
Don’t go overboard
As a beginner, you might be confused with how many days a week you should be strength training. The key here is to start small—keep your weight training sessions to 2 days a week and gradually increase it once you’ve hit your comfort level. Ideally, you should strength train 3 to 5 days a week, but it’s important to start slow and work your way up.
Beginners in weight training can start by making every session a total body workout instead of focusing on individual muscle groups. This involves doing a little bit of everything—some lower body moves, some core workouts and some upper body reps, which will keep your workout balanced. Cap the workouts at about 40 to 45 minutes each session, and on days you’re not lifting, get your cardio in. The right mix of workouts depends on your end goal.
Lift the right amount of weight
There is no set starting weight that universally fits everyone, as much as we’d like it to be the case. Your starting weight will depend on your current strength, what exercises you’re doing and how many repetitions and sets you’re aiming for. Start by sticking to 12 to 15 reps for up to 2 sets. Increase it to 3 sets per exercise once you’ve gained confidence and strength.
Different exercises require different weights because some muscle groups are naturally stronger than others, so it helps to have access to a variety of equipment when you’re working out. Ensure you’re also resting enough between sets so that you continue to feel challenged in your next one.
Do the same moves
Learn more about your own strength by keeping your moves and reps consistent for the first few weeks. Sports professionals switch up their moves every day, but it’s important not to feel pressured to emulate them as a novice. Stick to the same basic moves 2-3 times a week to build your strength before jumping into any complex routines. This helps you master the basic moves before going up a level.
Stretch, stretch, stretch!
Don’t forget to stretch at the end of your workout—this is just as important as your warm up! Stretching helps to improve flexibility and helps you feel great when you’ve worked out really hard. Cool down for about 10 minutes after your workout to improve blood flow to your muscles to aid their recovery.
Take rest days
It’s important to listen to your body when it’s too sore to workout. Soreness is normal, so don’t feel pressured to hit the gym the next day when your body is aching. When you strength train, you’re causing microscopic damage to body tissue that will repair and build muscle over time, but you don’t want to be so sore that you can’t exercise again that week. If your soreness lasts for several days, you know you’ve overdone it. Give your body a break so your muscles can recover. Constant workouts without a break will cause muscle fibers to break down.
There you have it… it’s time to head to the weight room and get started on your first rep. Ready for your gains?