Strength Training

Strength Training

Strength training is a tool that can help you tone your muscles and improve your physical wellbeing.

With regular strength training in your routine, you can reduce your body fat and increase your strength by building muscle mass.

It is the foundation for most workout programs for both beginners and experts, no matter what your personal goals. Strength training is so important, it literally fits into almost every exercise regimen!

What Exactly is Strength Training?

When most people think of strength training, weightlifting is what comes to mind.

In all actuality, you can build muscle by using a variety of techniques, including using your own body weight, using resistance bands or cable resistance machines, or the good old weight machines or free weights.

When you do add weights to an exercise, whether it be from free weights or a machine, that is considered weight training. If you are using weight machines, it might take you some time to learn how to use the machines properly.

For beginners to strength training, the option of adding resistance is a great alternative when you don’t have access to weights or cannot use them for a different reason.

Strength training can be a learning experience, and when you are new to it, you may have to have some trial and error to get the hang of things.

This is nothing to be embarrassed of, and remember, everyone has to start somewhere.

Woman in a gym using resistance bands.

How do I Get Started?

The ideal beginner work out includes around eight exercises. These exercises should target the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms).

The ultimate purpose of strength training is to build strength. To do so efficiently, target your weaker muscles and do exercises that work those areas.

It doesn’t take as much time as you might think. You can build your strength by giving just five minutes of your time a day to it, especially if you are new to it.

Designate some time in each stay to get your workout in, and if you are busy, you can even get some training in while tidying up your home.

Remember, everyone is at different parts in their fitness journey, but the most important thing is that you are on the journey.

This general guide to strength training by Sarah Richards does a great job at suggesting simple workouts that target building strength. Check it out!

Men using weightlifting to build strength.

Tips for a Safe and Effective Routine

The following is retrieved from Harvard Health Publishing, and can be found here.

  1. Warm up and cool down for five to 10 minutes. Walking is a fine way to warm up; stretching is an excellent way to cool down.
  2. Focus on form, not weight. Align your body correctly and move smoothly through each exercise. Poor form can prompt injuries and slow gains. When learning a strength training routine, many experts suggest starting with no weight, or very light weight. Concentrate on slow, smooth lifts and equally controlled descents while isolating a muscle group.
  3. Working at the right tempo helps you stay in control rather than compromise strength gains through momentum. For example, count to three while lowering a weight, hold, then count to three while raising it to the starting position.
  4. Pay attention to your breathing during your workouts. Exhale as you work against resistance by lifting, pushing, or pulling; inhale as you release.
  5. Keep challenging muscles by slowly increasing weight or resistance. The right weight for you differs depending on the exercise. Choose a weight that tires the targeted muscle or muscles by the last two repetitions while still allowing you to maintain good form. If you can’t do the last two reps, choose a lighter weight. When it feels too easy to complete add weight (roughly 1 to 2 pounds for arms, 2 to 5 pounds for legs), or add another set of repetitions to your workout (up to three sets). If you add weight, remember that you should be able to do all the repetitions with good form. The targeted muscles should feel tired by the last two.
  6. Stick with your routine — working all the major muscles of your body two or three times a week is ideal. You can choose to do one full-body strength workout two or three times a week, or you may break your strength workout into upper- and lower-body components. In that case, be sure you perform each component two or three times a week.
  7. Give muscles time off. Strength training causes tiny tears in muscle tissue. These tears aren’t harmful, but they are important: muscles grow stronger as the tears knit up. Always give your muscles at least 48 hours to recover before your next strength training session.

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