Strength training can be intimidating. It can be difficult to know where to begin and how to keep with a training regimen, but it is possible! Strength training is also known as weight or resistance training and helps build muscular strength and endurance. Resistance makes any activity harder to perform and includes using your body weight, gravity, resistance bands, weighted bars, dumbbells, or exercise machines. Beginning to strength train may not seem like the easiest way to exercise, but it can be well worth your time.
Before Your Workout
It’s important to have a plan before you go to the gym. Having a plan will help you feel prepared, knowledgeable, and organized. I recommend writing your workout plan on paper or as a note in your phone because being able to see your workout can help you hold yourself more accountable. If you don’t know where to start, this is a great article that describes how to design your own program: https://medium.com/@AchieveFitness/designing-your-own-strength-training-program-21541bdd933. One quick tip when you’re designing your workout is try to maximize your strength training with multijoint exercises. Multijoint exercises, such as a bench press or squats, occur at two or more joints and make the exercises more challenging. This means these types of exercises are superior to building muscle by encourage you to recruit more muscle groups and lift more weight. A quick search on the internet, fitness Instagram pages, and even podcasts are also useful resources.
During Your Workout
First and foremost, remember to warm-up your body. There are different philosophies on which types of warm-ups are best, but the key is to not strength train while your muscles are cold and dormant. After you’re finished warming up, having a good mindset is also key to a successful strength training workout. Crank up some motivating music and know that you belong here!
If this is your first time, start with lifting less weight. It’s important to focus on good form so you can perform each movement through complete range of motion without compromising good posture or alignment. Select a weight that allows you to just reach your target rep with good form to avoid risk of injury. This is typically 8-12 reps of an exercise. Remember to never sacrifice good form to lift heavier. Performing multiple sets will allow you to fine tune the appropriate weight and reap more benefit. Usually 2-4 sets are ideal.
Lastly, Breathing is important. Try to inhale and hold your breath as you lift the weight and exhale once you reach the top portion of the movement. Then, lower the weight with control as you breathe in again. You do not need to muscle through or work quickly through all of your workouts. It’s beneficial to take short rest breaks between sets. A good break should last about 1-2 minutes or until you catch your breath. Don’t forget to stretch and foam roll after you’re finished with the workout!
After Your Workout
I have good news for you, you don’t not have to train all your muscles every day to see results. If fact, you shouldn’t train all muscles every day because they need time to repair and rebuild. An easy way to make sure you don’t go overboard is to alternate body parts during your days at the gym to allow the other muscles time to recover. With this in mind, it can be beneficial to track your progress as well. It can be both informative and motivating to see how you’re getting stronger! If this still seems intimidating, group fitness classes can also be a great way to begin strength training. Gyms often offer bootcamp, TRX, and Pilates classes. Either way, try mixing in a little bit of strength training into your week. It can all start with just one push-up!