A Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training

You might have tried working out at home but struggled to motivate yourself beyond the first few weeks. Have you considered personal training? A personal trainer can show you a wide variety of strength training exercises that will keep your workouts fresh and challenging. This beginner’s guide to strength training is an excellent way to get started.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 80% of adults don’t meet their key guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening activity. If you want to be healthy, you also need to be strong, so it’s time to start strength training.

Here we’ll cover the benefits and the basics, so you can create the best exercise plan to meet your fitness goals. Read on!

Strength Training Benefits

Lifting weights isn’t just an activity for men who want to bulk up with excessive amounts of muscle. Some women may even fear performing too many weight training exercises because they want to avoid an overly muscular appearance.

Why is the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion concerned about Americans not engaging in muscle-strengthening activities? The answer is sarcopenia, a condition that will impair physical function and predispose you to disability.

Age-related muscle loss is involuntary, affecting strength and mass, but can be prevented or treated with lifestyle changes. The estimated decrease of muscle mass is 3-8% per decade after age 30, with an even higher rate after 60. This condition puts you at risk of falls and injury, even triggering other negative health changes.

The reality is that we need to remain strong to carry out everyday tasks safely, regardless of our gender. Females generally produce considerably less testosterone than men and shouldn’t fear explosive muscle growth. We all need to fight to maintain our strength as we age, to enjoy optimal health and stability.

Muscle tissue burns more calories than the equivalent mass of fat, which is good news as you build more of it. Strength training isn’t all about muscle mass, however, since bone-density and connective tissue surrounding the muscle are also strengthened.

This lowers your overall risk of injury, promotes heart health, and can lower blood pressure. Additional benefits include self-confidence, lower cholesterol, reduced back pain, and better sleep. The endorphins released during a strength training session will lift your mood, lower stress or anxiety, and can kick depression to the curb.

Resistance Training Basics

We’ll let you in on a little secret – strength training doesn’t build muscle. Though you may be skeptical, it’s true. When you break down muscles during a workout, they are rebuilt stronger in response to this stimulus, and so the muscle is built by rest and recovery.

It is generally agreed by experts that muscles require about 48hrs to heal effectively. If you train the same muscle group two days in a row, not only do you minimize any muscle gain, you run the risk of injury. This is referred to as over-training.

If you do prefer the routine of working out on consecutive days you should work out different muscle groups on the second day. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) begins a day or two after training a muscle group and is normal as your body rebuilds stronger muscle tissue. Resting the affected muscle group until the aching eases means that you’ll be in the best condition for your next workout session.

Nutritious food with sufficient vitamins, minerals, and protein is essential for this process to be most effective. If you’re stuck for ideas, check out the recipe of the week on our blog.

Before you begin a strength training program, check with your doctor that you don’t have a pre-existing illness, injury, or condition. If you do, also consult with a personal trainer who is experienced enough to devise a safe exercise plan to suit your needs.

Reps and Sets

If you were to stick to a static strength training plan, you’d make progress in the first few weeks but wouldn’t increase your strength beyond those initial gains. That’s why keeping a log of your performance is important, to constantly challenge your body to improve.

When using free-weights, it’s essential to never try and bounce more than you can safely lift with correct form. You never want to be involving your back in the exercise in a dangerous way that can result in injury. Good form is comfortable, controlled, smooth, and always required.

Use lighter weights to warm up, and then determine the maximum weight to use for your session by the number of repetitions (reps) you should be performing to meet your goal. Rest for 30 to 90 seconds after a set of reps before you perform another set. Your body needs time to prepare for another round of repetitions if the exercises are to be effective.

For optimal muscle gain, you should only be able to complete 4-8 repetitions for 3+ sets. For a fat-loss goal, 8-12 reps for 1-3 sets is a good guide. A broader health-focused object would suit 12-16 reps for 1-3 sets.

Strength Training Exercises

There are a great many weight lifting exercises, with the majority focusing on smaller muscle groups.

When you’re just starting, it can be helpful to stick to the exercises that target larger muscle groups all at once. If you do this the other way round, when you come to an exercise that works out several muscle groups at once, you’ll already have fatigue. Keep smaller muscle groups until later in your training plan and last in your workout once included.

It’s easy to be intimidated by the large amount of gym equipment available, but a personal trainer will guide you to the ones that are of most benefit to a beginner. These are likely to be the easiest to use and will encourage good form.

Your trainer will be able to observe and advise the correct posture, and this feedback will be vital to your safe progress.

Importance of Strength Training

We’ve shown that strength training requires a growth mindset and perfect form from the outset. Don’t skip the basics and injure yourself by attempting more weight than you can handle.

If you’re interested in strength training and live near Roswell, GA, or Summerfield, NC, we can help you. We use a superior customized system, uniquely focused on clients who want to get in the best shape of their lives.

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