If you’re looking for an intense and challenging upgrade to your workout routine, weight training is the way to go. Weight training builds stronger muscles, joints and bones while toning your body by burning more calories every workout. It’s essentially a high-powered routine that builds strength and boosts metabolism. Weightlifting is also appropriate for any age and fitness level, so it’s something you can jump into no matter if you’re a gym buff or not.
Still, many people are intimidated by weight training, or sometimes called strength training, and it’s totally understandable. Strength training is usually associated with complicated equipment like resistance bands, barbells or chest presses which seem monstrous compared to a jump rope or yoga mat. But like any other fitness regimen, you can always start small and build your way up. Here’s how to do it.
Keep it simple
Nothing deters you from a consistent workout routine than a complicated and hard-to-follow program. When you’re just starting to explore weightlifting, it’s crucial to get the correct form first before doing advanced exercises that may do more harm than good. Check your posture and move slowly, just to make sure you’re lifting using your muscles and not momentum. It’s also important to not overtax yourself by overdoing reps or moving on to heavier weights without practice.
Stick to a simple routine of the basics like arm rows, shoulder presses and bicep curls. This way, you can nail the basic form and slowly work up to a bigger weight and exercise range. It usually takes six weeks or more of consistent strength training to see improvements in your body and resistance. At that point, you can already change up either the exercises you do (a strength training cardio session is a challenge that will leave you breathless), or the weights you carry.
Always warm up and cool down
Strength training can help prevent muscle injuries, but only if you start it right. A weightlifting routine is a vigorous one, even if you’re just beginning, so your whole body has to be ready. As they say in ’80s workout videos, get the blood pumpin’ with a few minutes of cardio exercises like jumping jacks or high knees. Don’t forget to stretch your torso, legs and arms to increase your flexibility and range of motion. This will help when you need to lift your arms to its highest or maintain a leg raise with ankle weights.
Overlooking a cool down is a rookie mistake. Stopping your workout abruptly and while your heart rate is elevated can result in light-headedness or fainting. So, set aside some time to do a series of slow, static stretches that can bring down your heart rate.
Be smart about your exercises
Weightlifting is a taxing exercise and if you do too much of it at once, you may drain it of its effectivity. Don’t replace your entire routine with just weightlifting; instead, pace it out for maximum efficiency (and so your body won’t give up on you too easily). Two days a week for strength training is ideal, but once you get the hang of it you can work your way up. Schedule your weightlifting days around your cardio days and rest days since these are still important for your overall fitness.
Use those two days of weight training wisely by not just focusing on one body part each day. A maximum of 40 minutes of weight training should have time for shoulder, leg, arm and torso workouts. Focusing on one body part too much can increase the risk of injury and muscle fatigue.