For those who are new to strength training, here’s how to get started. Be aware that all of our bodies are different and some of your muscles might require more assistance and/or attention than those of your peers. And that’s okay. It’s crucial that you train at your own comfortable pace in order to avoid injuries and obtain results.
Before you dive in head first, you should establish some goals. Think about where you are now—how do you physically see yourself? How do you think other people see you? How do you want to be perceived in the future? It’s important to set long and short term goals, so think about where you want to be in three months, and then a year. Document this in some way, so you don’t forget. Write your goals down on paper and hang it above your bed, if that will keep you focused and motivated.
It’s essential to always start your workout with a short warm up. A 5-10 minute jog, jump, climb, or even dance will suffice. The point is to get the heart pumping, blood flowing, and muscles warm.
How to lift
Regardless of the type of workout you’re doing, it’s important to identify and acknowledge all of the muscle groups. Here’s how Nerd Fitness divides the muscles into groups and gives examples of how to work them out:
Quads – squats, lunges, one legged squats, box jumps.
Butt and Hamstrings – hip raises, deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, good mornings, step ups.
Push (chest, shoulders, and triceps) – overhead press, bench press, incline dumbbell press, push ups, dips.
Pull (back, biceps, and forearms) – chin ups, pull ups, bodyweight rows, dumbbell rows.
Core (abs and lower back) – planks, side planks, exercise ball crunches, mountain climbers, jumping knee tucks, hanging leg raises.
If you’re looking for a full body workout, then pick one exercise from each muscle group. However, many people like to dedicate a day of the week for each muscle group. Something that I love about fitness is that there are no real boundaries on what you can do. There are thousands of workouts to choose from; not just those mentioned above.
So pick the ones that are the most fun for you, and never be hesitant to switch it up.
If you’re a virgin to strength training, doing three sets of 15 repetitions is a safe way to start. Certain workouts might allow you do to more or less sets or reps, and that’s for you to figure out as you move along on your fitness journey through. Trial and error, baby.
How much weight you should be lifting is also to be determined by you. You should be able to complete your sets with just enough gas in the tank for the next one. Rest for 30 seconds to a minute in between sets. All together, your workout should take 45 minutes to an hour.
Once it’s time to get out of your zone, always come back down to earth peacefully after a long hard day of strength training. I like to walk on the treadmill at a slow pace for about 5 minutes after my workouts, but you can choose to cool down however you desire, because this is YOUR fitness plan. It’s a good idea to end the session with some basic stretches, while your muscles are still warm, to refrain from pulling them in the future.
Now, you’re probably sweaty, tired, and hungry. Clean up and remember that your diet is more than half the battle. Prepare a deliciously nutritious home-cooked meal, or go out for one! You’ve earned it.
Emily is in the program Mass Communications: Journalism and Media Studies at the University of South Florida in Saint Petersburg. She is also a writer for the technology based blog, the Gadgeteer, and in her free time she contributes to her school's newspaper, the Crows Nest. On the weekends, you might find her at the Saturday Morning Market working under the Mother Kombucha tent or blissfully rollerblading in Vinoy Park. Emily is a self-proclaimed fitness guru, and is psyched to merge her love for healthy living and writing together. Follow Emily on Instagram or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main Photo Credit: Serghei Starus/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Khakimullin Aleksandr/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: PanyaStudio/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Elenadesign/shutterstock.com