9 Tips For Beginning Strength Training
Adding strength training to your fitness routine has several health benefits, but getting started is overwhelming for many people. The most important thing is to start weight training without getting injured.
Many of you might be perplexed about whether to use dumbbells, kettlebells at home, or weight machines at the gym. Then how many sets and reps should you do? However, even with all that confusion, there are still some basic principles to help you get started.
Let’s first see how strength/weight training can help. It provides many health and fitness benefits, including:
- Stopping or slowing down the age-related loss of bone & lean muscle mass
- Building and maintaining muscle mass
- Improving bone health
- Improving balance, which can help to cut down on the risk of falls and fractures for older adults
- Helping weight loss when combined with a healthy diet
- Boosting performance for the sportspersons & athletes
If you’re ready to get the most benefits of weight training, we’ve got for you the top 9 tips from a pro to help you get started.
Types of Resistance / Weights
If you’re new to resistance/weight training, first, you need to decide what equipment you should use. The answer may not be the same for everyone because it depends on your fitness level, goal, and your budget.
Here are some options:
- Resistance bands
- Weight training machines at a gym or at home
- Items available at your home that can serve as resistance, such as water gallons and soup cans
- Using your own body weight.
Fitness experts will have differing opinions on what type of resistance/weights you should use to get started. Fitness Buffhq, a certified personal fitness trainer and owner of Just Fitness Hub, says those new to weight-lifting start with their own body weight because it’ll help them get familiar with the proper form and movement patterns in weight training.
Using your own bodyweight is what happens with exercises such as pushups, squats, and lunges. Then, after you have practiced good form, you can use light free weights like dumbbells or light kettlebells. According to Fitness Buffhq, starting weights can differ from person to person, but five to twenty pounds is a reasonable range.
We mostly recommend dumbbells. You may invest in a set of light, medium, and heavyweight dumbbells to provide more challenge as you progress, says Fitness Buffhq. Another option is adjustable dumbbells that allow you to adjust weight as per your needs.
If you prefer barbells, you can begin with a barbell without weights on the sides. However, if that’s too much, you can be a little creative. For example, you may use a broomstick in your closet or a PVC pipe from hardware to get started.
Nine Tips to Get You Started With Weight Training
- Hire a trainer in the beginning if you can afford one.
- Always warm up before your main workout session.
- Learn the correct form and proper movement pattern.
- Keep the number of reps & sets according to your fitness level.
- Begin with two to three weight training sessions per week.
- Balance weight training with cardio exercise.
- Add resistance when you no longer feel challenged.
- Listen to your body.
- Be consistent.
Hire A Trainer Initially If You Can Afford One
It’s worth using a qualified fitness trainer who can guide you as per your specific needs. He will train you to use proper form and technique to avoid injury. If your budget allows for a trainer, it will be invaluable.
If you can’t shell out the money, many videos online can walk you through weightlifting basics, Fitness Buffhq says. While many videos are free, others are part of low-cost paid health and fitness apps.
Warmups help avoid injuries as it makes you more limber. Both the warmup and cool-down are essential. We recommend at least a 5- to 10-minute warmup.
One good way to warm up is – begin with less than half of your intended weight for an exercise and perform ten reps. Then, you can increase the weight by ten to fifteen percent and do more reps until you reach the intended weight for the day.
Learn the Right Form
One common mistake the people who are new to weight training make is to over eagerly use too heavyweight, and they get injured. The recommended way is, to begin with, no weight at all. Just make sure you are using the proper form, and your body is moving correctly. Reduce the weight if your form is off.
Use video-based resources or certified trainers to practice the correct form when weight training. You also may make a video of yourself doing reps to get a better sense of your form and movements. Taking videos of yourself from different angles will help you more. Compare this with the correct form to find out where you need to improve.
Keep the Number of Reps in Mind
One common recommendation you will hear is three sets of eight to twelve reps. Fitness Buffhq says: “The best way is to begin with do fewer reps and use no weight or a lighter weight while You learn the correct form”.
Don’t push yourself into using heavyweight or doing so many reps that make you feel sore and exhausted at the end of a workout session.
Start With Two to Three Weight Training Sessions a Week
If you’re entirely new to strength training, even one session per week can help break some of the destructive effects of a sedentary lifestyle. However, clinical studies have found that three sessions a week can help you gain muscle and lose weight.
In the beginning, try to keep at least two days gap between your weight training routines, so your body gets enough time to recover. Then, do some other physical activity between those days, just not weight training.
As you get used to your weight training and it becomes part of your regular routine, you can progress to 4-5 times a week. Some people prefer to divide the weight training routine into sessions focused on upper-body exercises one day, and lower-body exercises the next day.
Others like exercises that work on as much of the body as possible in each workout session. And in case you have one area of your body that feels sore on a day due to the previous day’s workout, you may give it a rest on that day to focus on another area of the body for your current workout session.
Balance Weight Training With Cardio Exercise
Both weight training and heart-pumping cardio exercise play an important role in improving your overall health. Include both weight training and traditional cardio exercises such as walking or cycling into your workout sessions.
Other people like to strength train on certain days and do heart-pumping exercises like walking, running, swimming, or other cardio activities on the remaining days.
Change It Up When You No Longer Feel Challenged
When you always lift the same weight for the same number of repetitions and sets, your body will eventually adapt and not improve further. So as you get started with strength training, watch out for plateaus. The plateaus indicate you should vary the resistance – that you can do by increasing weight or reps to add a new challenge. Another way is to use other exercise equipment.
Listen to Your Body
Even if you’re working out in the correct way and making progress with your training, other factors can affect how heavyweight you can use on a given day.
Many factors affect your performance. These can include:
- A bad diet.
- A new workout.
- A change in your workout time.
- Poor sleep.
You may need to use less resistance/weight on some days than others because of factors like these.
You can take a day off sometimes for some compelling reasons. However, if you’re fairly consistent with your training, you’ll still see progress over time.
The best way to be consistent is to enjoy your workout sessions and avoid injury.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, the USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: “For me, age is just a number!”