Last week we broke down the main reasons why resistance bands are a great workout tool, so to balance that out, let’s review some weight training basics today. If you’re already experienced with weights, use this as a refresher and a checklist, especially if you’re heading back to the gym for the first time in a while and haven’t lifted weights these past few months.
If you’re new and hoping to learn how to add weights to your routine, keep these tips in mind as you get started. Weight training can be intimidating for some, but it really just breaks down to knowing your stuff and building up.
- When you’re just learning an exercise, start with using your bodyweight only. Form is everything when it comes to working out with weights. If you do something incorrectly you’ll not only risk injury, you also won’t get the most out of your workout. So practice getting your form right and practice the movements that you’ll be going through. For example, if you’re going to be doing deadlifts, practice those movements without weights first; don’t just jump right into it. (This is a great tip for those going back to the gym and back to weight lifting for the first time in a while.) If you’re working out at home, make sure you have a mirror so you can check your form. Ideally, you would also have a personal trainer to spot your form, even if it’s virtually.
- Scope out the equipment that you want to use/purchase. For most beginners, dumbbells are the easiest to use. Kettlebells and barbells have a learning curb, but that’s not to say that you can’t start with those either. Just do your research and have an idea for what exercises you want to do and which weights would be best for them.
- Make sure you warm up properly first, don’t just jump into the weight lifting portion of your workout. Get some blood pumping and activate your muscles by rolling them out with a foam roller and doing dynamic stretches for range of motion. Doing these things help prevent injury and allows you to do the exercises fully.
- Schedule your workouts reasonably. Don’t be overzealous and try to work out every day. When you’re getting into it, start with 2 or 3 times a week and keep the workouts to around 40 minutes. It helps prevent burning out mentally and shocking your body too much physically. Eventually, after you gain some strength and get used to the routine, add more weight-lifting days to the week.
- Make sure you’re using the right weights. If you haven’t been back to the gym in a while because of this pandemic, you’ll need to start lower. Don’t expect to pick back up from where you left off if you haven’t been lifting! If you’re just starting out, you’ll be using different weights for different exercises so don’t think that one weight fits all. Never lift weights that are too heavy and make it impossible to maintain good form.
- Build a solid base, learn, and repeat the same exercises when you’re starting out. Going through the same motions but adding more weight as you gain strength will yield results. Don’t try to learn a million exercises at once. Just focus on some basics. Being comfortable by doing the same exercises is key to seeing progress when it comes to weightlifting.
- Have a post-workout routine. Stretch if you can, foam roll if you have to. Stretching while you’re still warm from working out is the best time to do static stretches. It’ll improve your flexibility and relieve soreness too. Some believe that it also helps prevents muscle soreness.
- Take your rest days! Everyone needs rest days to recover. Building muscle means that you’re making micro-tears to the muscle tissue which will then be repaired so that you can become stronger (essentially). So take rest days to allow your muscles time to repair and you can come back stronger than before. Obviously, that doesn’t mean you need to recover after every single workout, but remember to take days when your body really feels like it needs it.
- Eat right. If you’re trying to get stronger, make sure you’re eating enough protein!
- Consider sleep as a part of your recovery. Many people overlook sleep but it’s essential!