Everyone understands the significance of an exercise regimen. It is important not only for maintaining a healthy weight, but for building strength and endurance, increasing cardiopulmonary function, and helping to stave off disease. However, most of us rely primarily on cardio fitness routines.
For years, experts have recommended a minimum amount of exercise weekly, including approximately 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week (or 150 minutes spread out) or about 25 minutes of intense exercise three times a week (or 75 minutes total), just for example. What you might not know is that experts also recommend strength training at least twice a week.
That said, weight-lifting beginners need to be careful when first starting out. If you just pick up some weights and go to town with reps, you could easily end up with an injury that might derail your progress and damage your morale. Instead, you should follow a few simple steps that will help any beginner start off on the right foot.
1. Consult with a Professional
You wouldn’t try to tamper with electrical outlets in your home, bleed your brakes, or cut your own hair. You rely on professionals to do these tasks for you, or at least to help you through with expert guidance.
So why on Earth would you assume that you know the first thing about weight training? For weight-lifting beginners, professional help from a personal trainer (or perhaps a physical therapist), at least early on, is essential to learning not only how to properly lift weights in order to avoid injury. Experts will also help you determine how much weight to use as well as set up a schedule to increase weight as you need in order to meet fitness goals.
2. Start Small
If you’ve never attempted weight training, it’s important to walk before you run, so to speak. You need to work your way up to bench pressing half your body weight. If you try to do it too soon you’re either going to break yourself or break some equipment, most likely.
For weight-lifting beginners, it can be hard to temper the desire to move ahead too quickly. Seasoned lifters know that damage that can be done by lifting too much weight too soon or ramping up to heavier weights too fast. Beginners need to start small, follow the advice of a personal trainer, and learn their limits instead of leaping ahead.
3. Try Everything
You might think that weight lifting revolves around free weights and barbells, but this simple isn’t true. There are a wide variety of weight training machines that can help you expand your options, improve your results, and find the exercises that make you feel fantastic.
Weight-lifting beginners might not know how much they don’t know, so don’t assume that there’s only one option without asking. Maybe dumbbells and barbells are just what you need, or maybe other equipment is more your speed. Try everything before you discount any options.
4. Focus on Form
One of the things even long-term weight lifters have trouble with is maintaining proper form. It’s no surprise, then, that weight-lifting beginners struggle with this common problem. There are a couple of ways to learn proper form.
The easiest, and perhaps best, option is to work with a personal trainer. This professional can not only introduce you to a wide variety of weight-training exercises, but show you how to properly and safely perform each movement for maximum effect. Your trainer can also watch you over time and correct your form so you don’t get lazy and stray from the prescribed formula.
You can also find tutorials online, either written with pictures or video tutorials. The problem here is that you don’t have a second set of eyes to assess your form and advise you how to adjust. For some moves you can try to watch yourself in a mirror, but this isn’t an option for others. This is where your personal trainer comes in handy.
5. Schedule Rest Days
Like many weight-lifting beginners, you may be so excited to see results that you end up overdoing it with workouts. This is very hard on your body and will almost certainly lead to pain and/or injury. It is imperative that you schedule in rest days to allow your body time to heal between weight-training sessions.