Strength Training for Beginners
1. The first thing you need to know is that you should warm-up before you start lifting weights. The best way to do this is jump on the treadmill or bike for about 10 minutes. You are less likely to get injured if your muscles are warmed up.
2. Learn proper technique and form. You can stand around and watch what others are doing but this is not the right way to go about learning how to use the machines or weights. I recommend hiring a personal trainer for one or two sessions to show you around and take you through all the machines. Make sure that they demonstrate form as well as how to use the machine. If they don’t then ask them, after all they are working for you.
3. There are many options for weight training such as the weight machines, dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, kettle balls, and numerous more. The best way to go as a beginner is stick with the fundamentals. Have the trainer recommend several machines or decide for yourself what you want to use. Either way, stay with the same routine for awhile. Soon you will have more confidence and can move on to something new.
4. One problem that beginners often have is determining how much weight to lift. As you start you should lift a weight that is comfortable and that you can lift 10-12 times reaching fatigue. The formula here is: increase to 15 repetitions with the same weight; then increase the weight you are lifting and go back to lifting 10-12 repetitions to fatigue. Moving back and forth from high reps to heavier weights will keep you on a steady track.
5. Your muscles will get sore. Make sure the soreness you feel is normal muscular pain for a beginner and that you have not pushed yourself too hard and now have an injury. Normal muscle soreness should pass within a day or two an injury will be more painful and most likely not go away. In this event you should see your doctor.
6. Your strength training will change as you do. Once you have had time to become familiar with more of the gym equipment then you may want to venture out and try some new things. That is great for beating boredom and also for working different muscle groups. Once again I issue caution, make sure you get the proper training before you just jump into something new.
7. One thing that is a great way for beginners to learn some strength training is to join a circuit training class. These classes provide a cardio as well as a strength workout. You will probably get to use a variety of equipment; just make sure you know how to use it. If not ask.
8. It is important to take rest days. It is never a good idea to do strength training sessions back to back. Always allow at least one day in between. During weight training the muscles are pushed beyond their comfort zone and develop small tears in them. Don’t let this scare you. You need the rest days to allow the tears to heal as this is how the muscles grow stronger.
9. Be faithful to yourself. You can work through the initial muscle soreness. You may make a mistake on how to use a machine. You may have to miss a day for your daughter’s piano recital. My point is be consistent, don’t give up, and allow for flexibility in your schedule.
10. My last piece of advice is probably the most important: FOCUS. You are working with tools and machinery that can be dangerous if not used properly. You certainly don’t want to start a conversation with someone and then drop a dumbbell on their foot. It’s important that you focus on your movements not only do you get a better workout but you stay safe. Hey, the gym is a social place. Don’t be afraid to make friends or have workout buddies; just don’t let it take your mind off of your main objective.
Just a couple of quick rules of etiquette:
•Make sure you have a towel and wipe off each machine after you are done with it. No one wants to sit down on a sweaty machine.
•If you are using dumbbells, barbells, or whatever equipment, put away what you have used. Don’t walk away leaving it for the next person to deal with.
•If you need to rest between sets then make sure your rest periods are only about 30 seconds each. Other people may be waiting to use the machine that you are and it is frustrating if they think you are just sitting around.
•My favorite tip: leave your cell phone in the car. A ringing phone is a distraction. Also, a gym is likely to be a noisy place and others are not interested in listening to you talking loudly on the phone.
So now it’s time to step out into the world of strength training. Never be afraid to ask for help. Be aware of how your body is feeling in order to avoid injury. Have fun. Always check with a medical professional before starting any new exercise program. Be healthy, be happy.
Click here to check out my EBOOK: Exercise Basics – Everything You Need to Know to Start an Exercise Program
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