Weight training is usually undertaken either as its own set of exercises, or part of a larger workout regime. It doesn’t matter whether it fills up a large part of your day or just half an hour; the benefits of weight training not include bigger muscles and stronger bones, but a supreme sense of satisfaction as well. If you have a lot of motivation and are ready to do it justice, here’s our beginner’s guide to weight training to get you started.
Decide on your goals and how you’ll reach them
You should only pick up your first weights after researching extensively the type and size that will best help you get the results you’re after. For example, if you’re a runner an increase in muscle mass won’t do much, but a strong core absolutely will. Simple bodyweight training doesn’t require any equipment, but if you want to move onto weighted strength lifting at some point, then its worth getting dumbbells, or a barbell etc.
Your initial weight training will probably be quite generalised; ideally 1-5 reps of squats, push ups, dumbbell rows, jumping jacks, planks, with additional reps as and where you need them. After a solid week with this regime, individual sessions of your weight training should now be focused on your upper body and lower body - ideally two days of the week for each. In these sessions, you’ll be doing exercises that specifically target the chest, abs, shoulders and other joints, and for the other you’ll be focusing on the lower body i.e. quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves.
Advancing your weight training
Once you have a solid routine going, and even more solid muscles to match, it’s time to get intensive with your weight training. Intensive strength building will of course include the dreaded “bar”. If you’ve been working with the dumbbells then it won’t be nearly as intimidating. Your most important focus in your first bar session should be getting each rep correct, and fretting about how much weight you’re lifting next time.
The Do’s and Don’ts of lifting
Exercise that involves heavy weighted objects and putting serious strain on your muscles will of course open up lots of opportunities for injury. Here are some vital safety tips to ensure your training goes without a hitch, stitch or torn muscle:
Do: Mind your weights. If you’re using momentum to life anything, then its too. Ideally, you should be able to pause for at least one second between lifts.
Don't: Forgo a warmup. Always get your muscles into a gear with a bit of aerobics first.
Do: Start and increase weight slowly. Subtle changes and rep-size increases are a clean sign of your growing strength - and best of all you’ll hardly notice it!
Don't: Leave pain to worsen. If at any point your workout has gone from difficult to painful, it’s time to stop, wait a few days, and attempt it again with less weight or see if there’s an underlying cause.
Do: Achieve a balanced weight train. As we said before, unless its your aim you should be giving equal time to all your major muscles.