Strength Training for Beginners

Keeping your body physically fit is not an easy job, but with the right technique and proper procedure, strength training can do wonders to your body. Also known as weight training, it is a form of exercise that develops the strength and size of your skeletal muscles. But before you get started, here are some guidelines that will bring better understanding to the complexities of strength training.

Keep your strength training sessions to an hour or less – This does not include warm-ups, stretching, or other cardiovascular training you might want to do. For most people, 45 to 60 minutes of high quality workout are all they need before they start going into a "cooling-down" state.

Train each muscle group once to thrice a week – When you first start a program, you may be able to train your whole body three times a week. After some time that your body has been seriously training, you might need to work a muscle group once every seven to ten day in order to feel progress in the next workout. Frequency varies from person to person.

Apply compound exercises – Working-out with compound, multi-muscle free weight exercises is more beneficial that exercising on machines that isolate a particular muscle group. For instance, use dumbbells with both arms on your sides. Then, with your legs slightly apart and back straight, try squatting as you bend your back forward. After which, pull yourself up to standing position. This simple squat and deadlift routine works the entire back side of your body including the thighs, hips, butt, lower and upper back, abdominals, as well as your shoulders and arms. Compound exercises let you get in and out of the gym more quickly and allow you to use heavier weights, providing you with better results.

Quality over quantity – Control the weight you are lifting and perform each repetition with perfect form. If you get sloppy with your repetitions, you not only get as much exercise as you should, you also increase your risk of injury, recruit different muscles that you are not trying to target, and teach yourself bad habits that would be more difficult to break. Do not try to cheat your way to lifting weights.

Avoid overtraining – Do not train until you are completely passed out. For example, if you are doing the bench press for the first time, start with small repetitions. Avoid giving your body the shock of suddenly lifting a heavy weight. You can work your way to more repetitions and heavier weights as your body progresses.

Give variety to your training – Try to vary the number of repetitions, number of sets, and types of exercises you do every two to six weeks. If you like the bench press, try altering the angle, modify your hand spacing, use dumbbells, or you can even try one-arm presses and stability ball presses. Try alternating back and forth between muscle groups. Do a set of pulling exercises, then change to pushing exercises.

Make some progress over the previous workout – Add a slightly heavier weight to each side of dumbbell or barbell on your next workout. Add extra repetitions over what you tried during your last workout or try slowing down the repetitions so that the muscle group has to work much harder. Remember that you are working-out in order to become stronger, not to become used to exercising. 

Always stay safe – Whenever doing exercises such as bench press or squat, be sure to use a spotter or perform the exercise inside a squat rack with the safety bars set to act as your spotter if you get in trouble and cannot lift the weight back up. Aside from which, anyone who is beginning an intensive physical training program is typically advised to consult a physician because of possible undetected heart or other conditions for which such activity is contraindicated.