Top 5 Tips for Starting Strength Training:
Everyone’s heard of strength training, but almost no one knows exactly what the measure of strength really is. Strength, by definition, is the measure of force your body (muscles) can exert. Since weights are affected by gravitational force, you can simply measure your muscles’ strength capabilities using nothing more than standard weights at your local gym. Thus making it very easy to measure & improve your body’s strength all on your own!
Regardless of who you are, or what you’re training for, you can always benefit from strength training! Even if you’re not trying to gain strength or size, you can help build joint stability and maintain your current strength level with a good strength routine. Even if you’re goal is to lose weight, maintaining your muscles’ mass & force capabilities will help you significantly! So, follow these 5 simple tips to get started on an easy, but essential strength training regimen!
- Start Slow
One of the most common scenarios we see is someone who’s new to the gym and is very excited, motivated and eager to hit the ground running! This is a great attitude to have, but can quickly cause a problem when starting out because they go too hard too quickly. This leads to the 2nd most common scenario we see when someone’s starting out: they come in, hit it hard the first few days, and we never see them again. Not taking it slow can cause injury, or at least some intense soreness, which is often enough to prevent anyone from wanting to come back. So take it down a couple notches, and live to lift heavier another day!
- Know Your Max
Once you’ve gotten a couple lifting sessions in, plan a day to test your 1 rep max for some of your main lifts. This will give you the tools needed to plan your progress & starting intensity. It also often proves to people they can do much more than they ever imagined! So don’t be afraid to do a max test with a qualified trainer to spot you!
- Take Your Time
This may sound a lot like the first time, but it’s actually a bit different in an important way. Take your time refers to your progression & weekly volume. When you first start strength training, you’re placing a lot of additional loads on various parts of your body that it’s not at all used to. This is easily felt in some of the prime mover muscles like the pectoralis major (chest), but there are a lot of smaller muscles like erector spinae (along the spine), that are needed to stabilize you during a lift. When these muscles get worn out, or overworked, it’s harder to feel, especially when you’re new. So take your time, and progress slowly, your body will thank you!
- Balance your exercises
We’re creatures of desire. What that means when working out, is we like to only train what we desire to see, usually because we think that’s what others desire. For men this is typically upper body, particularly the muscles in the front, whereas for women it’s lower body, especially the muscles in the back. What we all need to be doing is training each side equally. So anytime we’re pushing, we follow it with pulling; if we’re working quads, we switch to hamstrings. This is essential for joint stability & injury prevention, especially over time!
- Stay Motivated
Like I said earlier, everyone’s all gun-ho in the first couple days, but the enthusiasm wears off quickly with some soreness & tough workouts. The trick is to plan out & think of your progression; what’s the level you want to be at after the first month? For example: Squatting 150lbs for 10 reps. Keep this in mind, and gradually work towards it each week/day. This will distract you and allow you to keep focused on the big picture, and keep you following through on your initial promises to yourself.
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