6 Key Strength Training Tips for Beginners
Strength training provides a wealth of benefits to the body. It’s an incredible way to lose weight, improve body mechanics and posture, and build muscle; but it can also be a daunting prospect to get started. Whether you’re just beginning with a strength training regimen, or you’ve already come a long way in your journey and want to get even better, try some of these tips to help you reach your goals.
Tip #1: Leave Recovery Time
Often, when you start strength training, you want results now. Whether you’re looking for a six-pack or you love the idea of having arms of steel, make sure you do not over train. Depending on your workout intensity, your body will most likely need a minimum of one to two days rest between sessions to recover and replenish glycogen stores. It may be helpful to think of these days as “growth days,” not days off. Bodybuilding.com defines recuperation as a process broken down into 3 phases:
- 30-to-90 second rests between sets during exercises
- 2-to-4 hours immediately after exercise
- 48-to-72 hours after exercise
Tip #2: Breath Properly
Exhale as you slowly lift the weight or work to the maximum point of resistance. Then inhale as you work your way back. This will allow you to focus your body’s efforts more effectively, and help you remember to keep breathing while you exercise, which can reduce your risk of injury.
You can create stability during exercise by inhaling before big movements, commonly referred to as “bracing”. If we are looking to save time and perform an exercise that has the biggest effect on our strength and physique goals, we need to utilize the best breathing techniques in our lifts.
– Miguel Aragoncillo, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Health Fitness Specialist (HFS)
With almost every strength training exercise, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. And if you do it incorrectly, you’re increasing the likelihood of injury, which may prevent you from exercising for several weeks. If you’re just getting started, it may be worth hiring a personal trainer to learn how to properly complete each exercise. Online videos and tutorials are also a highly effective way to learn proper exercise techniques. Periodically, check your form and make sure that you’re doing each exercise correctly.
Tip #4: Increase Weight the Right Way
Let’s be honest, you’re not going to bulk up overnight. You want to slowly increase the amount of work your muscles are able to do. It’s always best to start small. If you’ve never performed a specific exercise before, many experts recommend a warm-up self-assessment. If you can do all of your reps easily, it’s probably time to increase the weight. On the other hand, if you’re unable to complete the exercise, drop to a lower weight to complete the desired number of reps.
Tip #5: Track Your Progress
Over time you’ll start to increase the weight resistance and your endurance will substantially improve — but how much? Are you continuing to improve over time, or have you been stuck for a while? Whether you opt to use an app or prefer traditional pen and paper, make sure you’re tracking your progress over time. This will let you look back on your accomplishments and see exactly how far you’ve come. Reflecting on your improvements will provide you with plenty of incentive to keep pushing in the future.
Tip #6: Warm Up and Cool Down Properly
You don’t want to start lifting cold, and you don’t want your muscles to tighten up and be sore when your workout is done. Brief cardio prior to your strength training routine, whether that’s going for a walk or riding a bike, is a great way to warm your muscles up and prepare them for your workout. When you’re done, take the time to stretch, increase your mobility and improve your recovery.
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