If you are fortunate enough to have the ability and opportunity to weight train, you should capitalise on it. There have been countless articles and studies that show the benefits of weight training for a wide range of individuals1, 2, 3. Perhaps you’ve spent some time away from weight training, due to injury, work commitments, or maybe you’ve had a different focus for your health and fitness. The good news is that it’s never too late to return to engaging in weight training. If you’re trying to go it on your own, and you’re not sure where to start or what to do, here are a few things you might want consider:
Determine your goal/s.
Your goal can range from increasing muscle size, decreasing body fat and increasing muscular tone. Your goal can also be a return from injury or even correcting elements of your posture.
Start off with the basic movements.
Advanced movements that can be found online, may not be the best place to start. Using compound exercises (exercises that require 2 or more joints) will give you a good foundation that you can progress from. This will ensure that your entire body is being targeted.
Make sure you lift with good form and technique.
This may mean that you will have to start off with lighter weights, but will ensure your safety and longevity in strength training.
Use progressive overload.
To do this, each session that you participate in should be challenging, but you should also find success. When you begin to notice that a particular weight is becoming less challenging, slowly increase its difficulty so that your body is continually challenged to improve. As a result, you will get stronger.
Try and dedicate 2-3 strength workouts each week.
This will ensure that you’re body is being challenged sufficiently, while also having a chance to rest and recover. In terms of how long each workout should be, there is no set time. But if you are completing a strength workout in under 20 minutes, you are not giving yourself the best opportunity to reap strength benefits from your workout. During each workout, the number of sets, reps and the amount of rest will vary depending on your initial goal/s.
Still unsure of where to begin and what to do?
Seek guidance from a professional. We love to help people who are looking to improve their health and fitness and wanting to engage in strength training. If you are unable to commit long-term with a trainer, ask to be put through a handful of workouts so that you can take away some tips and techniques which will mean that you can lift safely and effectively on your own. After that, getting a program designed specifically for you and your goals will give you the best opportunity to reach your weight training goal/s.
After reading the points above, you may still believe that because of your genetic make-up, you are incapable of building muscle and gaining overall strength. This is not the case. Through proper strength training you will be able to build muscle and increase strength. This increase in muscle, combined with proper nutrition, will allow you to positively change your body composition (the percentage of body fat Vs muscle mass). Keep in mind, that changes in body composition won’t always be truly reflected by the number on the scale. The use of girth measurements, skinfolds and more accurately DEXA scans are the best way to go.
So if you haven’t been strength training consistently, or are wanting to return to it, start today. Seek the proper help that will allow you to build the best version of yourself. One which you will be able to enjoy now and well into the future. I believe that strong is confident, and confidence is empowering. Empowerment can lead to happiness, so why not be happiest version you can be?
1 Han, T. S., Richmond, P., Avenell, A., & Lean, M. E. (1997). Waist Circumference Reduction and Cardiovascular Benefits During Weight Loss in Women. International Journal of Obesity, 127-134. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/0800377
2 O'Connor, P. J., Herring, M. P., & Caravalho, A. (2010). Mental Health Benefits of Strength Training in Adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1559827610368771
3 Winett, R. A., & Carpinelli, R. N. (2001). Potential Health-Related Benefits of Resistance Training. Preventative Medicine, 503-513. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091743501909090