A Beginner’s Guide to Lifting Weights: Everything You Should Know Before Starting
Looking to get into strength training?
Lifting weights can seem daunting at first, not to mention awkward and uncomfortable during your first few sessions. Know that this is a normal feeling since you are learning so many new forms and techniques for the first time. If you’ve never done any kind of weight training in the past, don’t be discouraged: it’s never too late to start, no matter your age or fitness level!
This article will teach you a few tips and tricks to get started with weight training and give a few exercise suggestions for beginners!
Always start with a warm-up! A proper warm-up is an important part of an effective strength workout since it prepares your muscles for the work they’re about to do and helps increase your range of motion. Dedicate 5-10 minutes before strength training to do dynamic stretching and light cardio to elevate your heart rate. A warm-up should not overly exert you or leave you feeling breathless.
Start small. Although this may seem like a no-brainer, doing too much too soon is one of the most common mistakes when people start working out. Use your judgment or consult a fitness professional to figure out what works for you. As a general tip, start by strength training two days a week for two to three weeks before adding a third day. Don’t feel like you need to spend hours at the gym either: cap your workouts at the one hour mark so that you don’t burn out and you stay efficient.
Plan your workout. Perhaps the hardest part of starting weight training is knowing which exercises to do during your workouts. Using fundamental movement patterns can make structuring your workouts more digestible and well-rounded. There are five basic movement patterns: squatting, hip-hinge, pushing motions, pulling motions, and vertical pressing. Although more movement patterns exist, most exercises involve at least one of these movement patterns. Below are just some exercises from each movement pattern:
Squatting pattern: goblet squat, barbell back squat, front squats
Hip-hinge pattern: kettlebell deadlift, dumbbell stiff legged deadlift, barbell hip thrust
Pushing motion: pushups, dumbbell chest press, barbell bench press
Pulling motion: pull-ups, dumbbell row, cable row
Vertical pressing: barbell overhead press, dumbbell press, barbell landmine press
Hit full-body. One effective way to program weight training for beginners is to make strength training sessions full-body rather than splitting sessions up into muscle groups (for example, doing legs one day and upper body another day). This means that for each workout, you’ll be hitting all body parts; incorporating one or two exercises from each of the five basic movement patterns in each session above will help you design a full-body workout. Note that you don’t need to do any crazy movements you see online for your workout to be effective: it’s best to create one or two workouts with simple, different exercises and repeat these workouts for six to eight weeks. To continue seeing progress in the gym, make sure to gradually increase the weight, frequency, and/or number of repetitions in your routine.
Nail down your form. If you’re unsure of how to perform any exercises, online tutorials can be a great tool to help you learn how to nail down your form. It can also help to work out in front of a mirror or record yourself on your phone to make sure you’re executing movements correctly.
We hope you found this helpful! While there are many ways to start incorporating strength training into your fitness regime, you can use this article as a jumping off point if you feel lost or stuck. Remember that keeping it simple and consistent will help you create something for yourself quickly and without feeling overwhelmed by all the options!
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