Strength Training for Beginners: Why and How to Get Started

Strength Training for Beginners: Why and How to Get Started

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Get Fitter Faster

If you’re looking to lose a little extra weight but have plateaued since starting to do cardiovascular exercise, it may be time to add a little something extra. Strength training can help you get back on track and trim your body into the best it has ever looked.

Using heavy weights and utilizing either full body or upper body/lower body exercises, workouts can be done in 20 minutes a day two to three times a week. Combined with other exercise, strength training is extremely effective in keeping your body in shape and working efficiently.

Why It’s Good for You

While strength training obviously builds strength and muscle, that isn’t the only reason to give it a try. Because heavy weights are lifted at short intervals, the exertion gradually improves endurance as well.

In short, it will take much more to tire you out meaning more energy to chase the kids around.

Additionally, the repetitious nature of strength training allows the body to adjust and get stronger with each training session. These kinds of workouts help shed and keep off the pounds, leaving you with a lean, toned body.

The resistance factor in weight training will also strengthen bones, ligaments and tendons, protecting you from diseases like osteoporosis or exercise induced injuries.

Getting Started

As with any workout regimen, it’s important to know your body’s limitations before you start weight training. If you have any health issues or injuries that may interfere with certain types of exercises, consult with a doctor before jumping into things.

However, even if you’re in tip top condition already, it’s not necessary to only lift extremely heavy weights when starting strength training. In fact, strength training will combine the use of weights along with specific poses and exercises that are effective in working on a series of muscles in the body.

With strength training, perfecting your form is more important than how much you can lift. Slower movements are actually more beneficial to the growth of muscles because you are working them to their capacity.

Strength training can be done on it’s own, but it’s most effective when combined with your already existing workout. For example, if you do yoga, strength training can help you hold poses longer and potentially allow you to do more complicated poses that require greater upper body strength.

Runners can also benefit from the endurance provided by strength training due to its anaerobic quality, which will strengthen the muscles in the legs, allowing you to run longer and faster.

Workout Tips

When choosing a weight size to start with, only choose one that you can lift for at least six repetitions, also called reps. Each set should contain six to 10 reps, which will gradually increase over time with your strength.

As a beginner, you should start with six reps, and gradually increase to 10 over time, using the same weight size. You’ll do two to five sets of reps per exercise. Once you’re comfortable with 10 reps done in five sets, it’s time to increase the weight size.

Some examples of exercises done with barbells, dumbbells, or other equipment during beginners strength training are goblet squats, inverted rows, deadlifts and dumbbell presses. Additionally, push-ups, chin-ups, pull-ups and planks are strength training exercises that are easy to do at home or at a gym.

It’s best to do strength training two to three days a week on nonconsecutive days. On your rest days, light cardio exercise is recommended such as walking, cycling or water aerobics.

Only do what you can without becoming too sore. Soreness will become another excuse not to work out, which is what you want to avoid.

Consistency is key with any kind of long term training program.

What to Expect

If strength training seems intimidating to you, it’s likely because of common misconceptions. Many women are worried that strength training will give them bulging muscles like bodybuilders.

Strength training tones the muscles and doesn’t add bulk, especially for women. In fact, many beauty queens and fitness models utilize this kind of training to get their bodies looking sexy and fit.

Strength training is also perfectly safe for women. Some men may try and make you think otherwise, but they’re dead wrong.

There is no type of exercise that is truly specific to gender or sex. Everyone’s bodies are different and can handle different things.

As long as you are wary of your own preexisting injuries and have consulted with a doctor, you can lift weights appropriate to your current strength and gradually increase from there.

No matter what your current weight, it’s not always easy to feel comfortable working out in a gym full of people. While it’s easy to say ‘don’t worry about what people think,’ the truth is most women do.

Working out with a partner or personal trainer may ease some of your anxiety or you can try blocking out the world with some music.

Finally, choosing to strength train should be your own choice based on your personal fitness goals. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don’t worry if you can’t lift the same amount as someone else; you’ll get there in your own time.

Focus on what you hope to achieve: strength, endurance, a hot body, weight loss, better overall health. Whatever it is, make that your purpose and work hard to achieve it.

Resources

Everyday Health (7 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Workout Routine)

Bodybuilding.com (Women’s Strength Training: Your Guide to a Sexy & Fit Body!)

Nia Shanks (The Women’s Beginner Strength Training Guide)

Women’s Hearth Foundation (Strength Training for Women)