Like any other sports or fitness program, a beginner needs to learn and master some techniques and tricks in weight training. I remember when I started with my weight training back in 1991 and being inside the male-dominated gym was new to me. Here are some tips for beginners to help you get most out of your workout.
Know the jargons
You may have heard the words rep and set. But what does these mean? One rep, or repetition, means one complete exercise. One push-up would be one rep. A set is a set of repetitions. So 8 repetitions of a push-up is one set. Also, be aware of what your trainer call each exercise. When exercising, start with 8 repetitions in each set. Do two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise. When you can easily do 12, you can add a little more weight.
Work out between meals
Don’t think that working out after a full meal is the best time to pick up those weights. It feels uncomfortable to work out on a full stomach. Conversely, you feel light-headed when working out on an empty one. It is better to work out midway between meals, or take a light snack or meal an hour before training.
Warm up your muscles for five to ten minutes before weight training. I remembered my trainer gave me a list of three to five exercises to warm up. Our muscles need to be eased into a strenuous activity like an exercise. A brisk walk, jumping jacks, jogging in place or toning exercises for 5 to 10 reps without weights are good examples of warm-up exercises. If you have aerobic exercises in conjunction with your weight training, you can do them as warm-up instead.
Pick the right weight
You could hurt yourself if you lift too heavy weights. If the weights are too light, it won’t do much to firm your muscles. Consider this: if you can’t lift the weight in good form 8 times, it’s too heavy. If you can easily lift the weight more than 12 times, it’s too light. Better consult your fitness trainer about this.
Do it with a friend
Find a training buddy who can do all these three for you: (1) lend a helping hand in times of struggle and tiring moments; (2) make sure that you are doing the exercises right and in good form; and (3) can offer the encouragement that first-time lifters often need.
Some weight lifters hold their breath which causes their blood pressure to rise. Here is the proper way to breathe: exhale on the exertion, meaning when you lift the weight or do the crunch, and inhale as you lower the weight or return to the starting position.
Avoid tensing unnecessary muscles
Strength training exercises focuses on specific muscles therefore these muscles should contract during exertion. However, when we contract one muscle, we tend to tense the other muscles as well. So make sure you don’t clench your teeth, or furrow your brow, or tense your shoulders when lifting weights.
Take it slow
To make your weight training effective, perform your training exercises in slow, controlled movements. Take time, about six seconds, for each repetition. Give yourself two seconds to lift the weight, another two seconds to pause, and another two seconds to lower the weight. Not only it is safer, but it would be beneficial for you in the long run.
Princess Galsim is a lifestyle blogger and writes for Bodylab, an online health and fitness store and website in Denmark.