Whether you’re new to the gym, or have no experience lifting weights, taking your first step and getting started can seem intimidating. However, with some guidance and a few handy tips, you’ll soon find that weight training is nowhere near as scary as you thought. Not only does it have plenty of health benefits, but it’s fun and satisfying as you follow your progress and see what your body is capable of.
Why should I lift weights?
Strength training has multiple health benefits:
- It increases bone density.
- It builds a stronger heart, reducing your resting blood pressure and improving your blood flow.
- It helps control your blood sugar and improves cholesterol levels.
- It improves your balance and coordination.
- It is a great way to lose weight, boosting your metabolism for up to 38 hours after you finish your workout, as well as increasing your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR).
With so many incredible benefits, it’s easy to see why we should all incorporate strength training into our fitness routines.
What do I need to know before getting started?
Weight training is relatively straight-forward once you grasp the basics. However, here are a few things you should know before you get started.
1. Learn the different types of weight training
Weight training can be broken down into bodyweight training, free weight training, and machine training.
- Bodyweight – this is where you rely on only your body’s weight, with no or minimal equipment.
- Free weight – this includes the use of free-standing equipment like dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells.
- Machine – this is training on the various different kinds of weight machines.
All three have different benefits and which type you chose will depend on your personal preference and fitness goals.
2. Focus on correct form & technique
One of the most important things to do before you start training is to learn the correct form for the exercises you’ll be doing. This is absolutely vital in ensuring you don’t give yourself an injury, or waste time doing exercises incorrectly and ineffectively.
When it comes to movements like squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench press, etc. – your form is crucial. If you work to get it right in the beginning, you’ll save yourself months of frustration later on, as well as protect yourself from injury.
It is well worth hiring a Personal Trainer for a few sessions to learn the right techniques. Otherwise, training in a group class where you have the guidance of a trainer is a great idea as you gain experience and put the moves you’ve learnt into practice in a safe, controlled environment. Once you’re sure you’ve got the hang of things, you can move to training alone.
3. Take it slow
Not rushing and focusing on achieving the correct technique is so important! Always start out with any new exercise using just your bodyweight to make sure you get your form right. If you’re doing a barbell movement, use a pole without any weight on it. If it’s a dumbbell movement, use something light and small to mimic a dumbbell until you’re confident you’re getting it right.
When it comes to weight training, it is all about the quality of each rep. In the initial stages, you shouldn’t be worrying about how many reps you’re managing, or what weight you’re lifting. Just focus on getting each move right. Use the mirror here to constantly check you’re doing it right.
4. Make sure you don’t overdo it
Many newbies make the mistake of doing too much, too quickly. Overtraining is just as dangerous as not training at all. Make sure you build your weight and number of reps up slowly and surely – if you try and push yourself too quickly, you are more likely to give yourself an injury.
Give yourself plenty of time to recover between sessions – after all, this is where you’ll actually be growing and repairing your muscles and seeing change happen. Aim to do two to three weight sessions a week, and no more.
5. Have a clear plan
Going into the gym blind is never a good idea, especially when you’re lifting weights. Write down a clear training plan for the week so you know on what days you’ll be working which muscle group, giving yourself adequate rest time and recovery between sessions.
If this seems daunting, think about working with a Personal Trainer for a session or two a month – they’ll be able to provide you with a clear plan for the days you’re working out alone. Or else you could try doing weight-based gym class such as BODYPUMP™ at your local David Lloyd Club.
If you’re new to lifting weights and looking for further help, contact your local David Lloyd Club.