Strength training can be an essential part of a workout routing. In addition to giving you a toned, shapely physique, it also helps you maintain muscle tissue, strengthens your bones, reduces your risk of various healthy conditions and makes you burn calories more efficiently. As a workout fanatic and trainer, I often see mistakes that people make when trying to work their muscles against resistance. Often, these are newbies that have no clue where to start. If you’re in this category, the following tips might come in handy.
1. Hire a certified personal trainer to show you’re the ropes. Rather than having poor form, drawing attention to yourself and risking injuries, learn proper weightlifting form so you get optimal results. After familiarizing yourself with different exercises, you’ll feel more confident, knowing that you can strength train by yourself, maintain proper form and continue to see results.
2. Work all your large muscle groups including your legs, arms, back, shoulders, buttocks, chest and abdomen. Avoid solely focusing on one area. For optimal muscle stimulation and caloric burn, focus on your entire body.
3. Take at least 24 hours of rest in between strength-training sessions. When you lift weights, small muscle tears occur and your body needs time to repair these so you can come back stronger. You can eliminate the rest period if you strength train daily, but work different muscle groups each day.
4. Avoid consistently dropping the weight onto the weight stack when using weightlifting machines. Not only does this draw unnecessary attention to you, it’s also the ultimate sign of not knowing what you’re doing.
5. Challenge yourself so you continue to see results. As your strength increases, you might hit a plateau where it’s easy to lift the weight. When this happens, slightly increase the resistance. The last few repetitions of each set should always be difficult to complete. Once you can complete a set with minimal effort, it’s time to increase the weight or to add more repetitions.
6. Incorporate different types of equipment during your strength training routine. In addition to using weightlifting machines and free weights, also use your body weight or exercise bands for resistance. Not only can this prevent boredom, by working your body in different manners, you stay challenged and continue to see results.
7. Warm-up before a strength-training session and cool down and stretch afterward. The warm-up preps your body for the work to come. It can be as simple as walking briskly on a treadmill for five to 10 minutes, and including some arm circles and torso twists. The cool down can also consists of low-intense cardio. Also include some light stretches while your body is still warm can keep your muscles limber.
8. Switch up your workout periodically. Avoid doing the same exercises each time, because this gets boring and you’re bound to hit a plateau where you stop seeing results. For instance, if you do bench presses one day for your chest, next time, do pushups for your chest. Instead of constantly doing triceps dips, perform triceps extensions with a dumbbell.
9. Watch yourself in a mirror as you lift weights. There’s a reason gyms have floor-to-ceiling mirrors everywhere. Use them to monitor your form. You’ll be able to see the muscle working and watch your body getting more toned over time. This can motivate you to keep up the good work.
10. Consult a doctor if you plan on starting a strength-training routine, especially if you suffer from a preexisting health condition or injury. Your doctor can determine whether strength training is a safe option for you based on your physical condition.