Strength training refers to any exercise that makes the body’s muscles work against some sort of force. Although it is often associated with weightlifting, strength training can also involve bodyweight exercises, isometrics, or plyometrics.
Sticking to the treadmill or the elliptical machine when you’re new to the gym may sound easy to those starting out in their fitness journey, but adding strength training to your exercise regimen and your regular cardio routine can be very beneficial.
It helps maintain mobility and increases bone and muscle strength while decreasing the risk of injury. It can also help reduce symptoms associated with diseases that affect the body’s motor functions, such as Parkinson’s disease.
With that said, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you as you start your strength training journey.
- Start with a simple plan.
The essence of strength training lies in the accessibility it can offer you: anything that can provide resistance for your body movements will suffice. This includes dumbbells, resistance bands, or even your own body weight.
Start with a simple routine, with around 8 to 10 exercises. Whether you’re interested in toning your body or building strength for everyday activities, an ideal program will work out all your major muscle groups.
Therefore, try to include exercises such as squats, lunges, chest presses, and more to ensure you’re targeting key muscle groups during your workout.
However, if you’d like to spice up your daily workout routine, think about adding a boxing workout to your regimen. This workout combines full-body strength training and cardiovascular endurance to create an exercise targeting all major muscle groups while improving balance and coordination.
So, if you’re interested in an alternative to your regular strength training routine, consider visiting one of the rock steady boxing locations near you.
- Focus on your form.
When learning a new routine, starting with a very lightweight dumbbell is better, which can allow you to focus on controlling your movements. Perfecting your form is the most crucial step in benefitting from strength training exercises, as poor form can cause injuries and slow your overall progress.
Pay attention to your posture to maintain your form, keeping your chest lifted and abs held tight. Move slowly through each exercise to engage your muscles rather than allowing momentum to do the work.
If you require help mastering the form for basic strength training moves, seek professional guidance from a personal trainer. If you cannot do so, online tutorials can also give you an idea of what a proper movement should look like.
Afterward, you can work out in front of a mirror or take a video of yourself to ensure you’re executing the move properly.
- Choose the right weight.
To start with, you must learn the basic vocabulary of strength training. A repetition, commonly known as a rep, is one complete exercise movement, while a set is a specific number of reps, mostly between 10-15.
While your exercises will differ according to your fitness goals, most will involve using weights within a certain range. The correct weight will allow you to complete around 8 to 15 reps for 1 to 3 sets while maintaining your form.
If you cannot sustain proper form or struggle to perform at least eight reps of a given exercise, it’s likely because your chosen weight is too heavy for you. Similarly, your weight probably isn’t heavy enough if you can breeze through your workout with minimal effort.
Once you become accustomed to a certain exercise and can perform it easily, it is time to increase the weight, reps, or number of sets to continue challenging your muscles as they become stronger. This is known as progressive overload.
- Don’t overdo it.
During strength training, your muscle tissue experiences microscopic damage, and you build muscle when this damage is repaired. As such, it is normal to experience a little soreness in between workouts.
However, if your body remains sore for multiple days after a single workout, it means that you’re over-exerting yourself. While it can be tempting to lift heavier weights or complete more sets early into your fitness journey to achieve quicker results, overtaxing yourself damages your body in the long run.
Take it slow and focus on building the strength necessary to move on to more difficult workouts.
Rest days are a crucial part of any strength training routine, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. Allow your muscles to recover by scheduling workouts a day or two apart or targeting a different muscle group in each consecutive session.
Similarly, you may be experiencing more fatigue on certain days for various reasons. It is important to listen to your body and take a break or try a more gentle workout such as yoga on such days.
- Include warm-ups and cool-down sessions in your routine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults require 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, including different aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, running, or cycling.
Warm up your muscles before starting a strength training session by engaging in at least 5 to 10 minutes of aerobic exercises. This will prepare them for the workout and increase their overall range of motion, thus reducing the risk of injury and ensuring better results.
Once you’re done working out for the day, take a moment to stretch your muscles. Cool-downs are vital to your overall routine as they allow your heart rate to return to normal and aid muscle recovery after a strenuous workout.
You can also use postworkout recovery products such as foam rollers or massage balls to alleviate tightness and soreness in your muscles.
Ultimately, it is never too late to add strength training exercises to your daily workout routine. It will provide several health benefits for your body, including a speedier metabolism and a lower chance of heart disease and diabetes, in addition to toning your muscles and increasing your general strength.
At the same time, it will benefit your emotional health by improving your mood and increasing your self-esteem.
Although these pointers can help you get started in the field of strength training, you should spend some time figuring out what works best for you.