Learn the do’s and don’ts of strength training. We’ll show you the way and help you build muscle and strength with efficient workouts!
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You can do it
Benefits of Strength Training
Here are some other examples of what good training can do for you and your overall health:
- It improves your balance and coordination.
- Your bones and tendons will become stronger together with your muscles, which you will really appreciate in your older years.
- It reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, muscular pains (such as low back pain) and reduces the symptoms of arthritis.
- It increases your metabolic rate, helping you to lose fat quickly.
- It helps fight depression and anxiety, as it allows your body to release endorphins and improves the quality of your sleep.
- It boosts your self esteem and confidence, not only because you will see yourself more attractive but because you will be achieving your goals.
Knowing this, it’s easy to understand why strength training is at the core of pretty much every fitness plan.
But hey! we know it’s pretty daunting to get into, especially if you have never trained before and don’t know where to start from. If you’re reading this and can relate to that statement, the best way of dealing with it is by educating yourself. Watch videos online, read guides and learn about different exercises and why we do them.
In the meantime, keep reading tom learn more about building muscle!
What to know before you start Strength Training
The rest of this page will outline the main things you need to know about strength training.
- Strength training is a process, so start slow. Forget about curling 50 kg in your first week: it’s not going to happen, and if it does, you will probably hurt yourself. So be sensible and safe…
- Make sure you are increasing weights. Slowly but steadily increase the weight you are lifting. You need to feel your body is actually making an effort. If you are able to do more than 15 reps with a certain weight, it’s a sign you can start using the heavier next one.
- Always remember to warm up. Take 10 to 15 minutes before starting your routine to do some stretching and low-intensity cardio. This will put you in the right state of mind and will get your body ready for the action. If you fail to warm up and pull a muscle, you’ll be out of action for weeks.
- You can eat up to 30 minutes before your workout. Take a healthy snack, made of proteins and complex carbs.
- Don’t use a machine or carry out an exercise if you are not sure how to use it. Never put yourself in a risky situation and always ask for advice before injuring yourself.
Your weapons: free weights, machines and your body
When training your strength, you are going to use resistance to get your muscles to work hard. This means you can use pretty much anything that can create that resistance, starting with your body.
Your body is one of the best tools you can use to train your strength. For starters, is the cheapest one, you always have it with you and it’s the best one to train large groups of muscles. Some bodyweight exercises you can try are squats, planks and push-ups.
Machines can look a bit scary at first, but soon you will realize they are actually quite easy to use, and you can even find instructions on the same machine. They are also safer, as they keep your body in the right position, but they limit your movement and usually aim to exercise just one muscle at a time.
As for the free weights, they are more versatile and don’t restrict your movement, which allows you to exercise several muscles in just one exercise.
Your movements are going to be more similar to day-to-day moves, which will improve your balance, as there won’t be a structure keeping you in the right position.
You may need more guidance to use free weights, but once you know how to use them properly, you could even buy yourself a set to train at home.
You can also use kettlebells, resistance bands and medicine balls, amongst others.
Reps, sets… and rest
Strength training is based in repeating each exercise a certain number of times. If you are starting, you’ll be recommended to aim for 12 to 15 reps per set, and three sets per exercise, with a minute rest in between sets.
Remember that your body needs time to recover after working out, as it’s in the rest days when muscles actually grow.
If you can, give yourself one day in between sessions, or, if this is not possible, focus on a different part of your body the next time you go to the gym. This way every group of muscles will have plenty of time to rest and repair themselves.
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