Getting Started With Building Muscle For Better Health
If you’ve been convinced that strength training has its merits but you aren’t sure how to get started, this article is for you.
When you first step into the weight room and look at all of the machines and free weights, it can be intimidating for the newcomer. This is especially true when you have a bunch of experienced weight lifters present. While it may seem even more daunting of a task if you suffer from joint or back pain, it can be good for you. However, you’ll need to ensure you are performing each exercise with precision. Improper form can be an easy way to hurt yourself.
Because of this, it’s always recommended to start with a professional trainer. If you are brand new to working out and just getting started, it’s time to hire someone that knows what they are doing. They will be able to address any specific issues you have, correct your form, and give you a lot of actionable goals that you can try to hit. They will also be able to keep you from hurting yourself.
Sue Carver, a physical therapist, notes that a lot of newcomers end up hurting themselves because they perform exercises improperly. This is especially true when they are doing “squats” and “lunges.” Because of this, you want to try to look at videos or even read some fitness books. Both of these things can give you ample guidance that you can use in your workouts. Focusing on good technique is most important when you are just getting started.
Experts recommend that you stick to using heavy enough weights that your body and muscles will feel resistance, but not strain you too much. You want to try to start as slow as possible to give your body some time to adjust. Likewise, you want to start your reps slow to avoid overtraining from the start.
How much is enough? There are guidelines set by the American College of Sports Medicine that says any newcomer should work out 2 days per week if they are just getting started with strength training. You want to incorporate a good amount of diversity in your workouts. Your workout should include various exercises and around 8 to 12 repetitions of each. You want to target all of the major muscle groups in your body including your arms, back, shoulders, abs, and more. If you are new at the gym and unsure about the whole fitness concept, hiring a personal fitness trainer could be beneficial to you.
Freeweights or Machines?
When you are looking into strength training, you will need to answer this question at some point. Each of these can be beneficial. No research indicates one is inherently better than the other.
A machine is generally preferred for someone that is just getting started and who might not be in the best shape. After all, they are going to want to have the machine guiding their form. Also, the exercises are usually performed while seated.
Whereas, free weights are generally better for the more experienced people. Also, for those that want to get free range of motion, free weights are the better option.
No matter what option you choose to go with, you’re going to want to try to invest in a set of resistance bands and/or dumbbells to get started. This can be a good way to get what you need to start your strength training.
Here are some of the exercises you should be incorporating into the mix:
- Chest Press
- Reverse Flies
- Bicep Curls
- Tricep Extensions
- Overhead Presses
When it comes to your lower body, you want to avoid starting with the ever-so-popular lunges and squats. Instead, you want to ease your joints in by starting with exercises that don’t put too much stress on them.
Here are some of the best beginner lower body exercises:
- Quadriceps Extensions
- Hamstring Curls
- Standing Leg Lifts
You also want to ensure you are working enough on your mid-section. Your core muscles are very important to the structural integrity of your body and for your posture. Core stability can be a good way to prevent further injury.