Maybe it’s been awhile since you hit the gym, or maybe you’ve never even been. Many people exercise very little or only perform cardio workout plans, like going for walks.
If you’ve decided it’s time to build your strength, though, you’re going to need to get started at a gym. Of course the question arises: where to begin?
Check out these six weightlifting tips for beginners:
1. Slow and Steady Builds Better Muscles
When you hit the gym and start a weightlifting routine for the first time, it can be really exciting (and really intimidating). Whether you find that you are able to lift a lot more weight than you thought or that you’re really out of shape and you want to get serious about lifting, it’s important to remember that slow and steady is much better when it comes to strength training.
Just like losing weight slowly and steadily is much better for your body, gaining muscle is a process and it shouldn’t be rushed. For you to gain strength, your muscles have to be broken down at a reasonable rate and have time to regrow. That’s why most fitness experts recommend giving your muscles at least 48 hours in between each weightlifting workout session.
Often it takes months for newbies to weightlifting to even notice a change in their physical appearances. Plan to schedule your workout routine for three to four days a week consistently.
2. You Can Push Too Far and There Are Consequences
If you launch your beginner’s weightlifting regimen too intensely, there will be consequences. The slow and steady motto isn’t just for optimal results, it’s also to protect you.
Weightlifting carries a lot of risks. With poor technique, pushing yourself too far, or working too intensely too quickly, you can seriously injure yourself. Injuries can have a lasting impact on your health and your ability to get stronger, even after healing. Be sure to pay attention to what your body is telling you when you work out. A little strain is a good sign; pain signals that you’re going too far.
3. Technique Comes Before All Else
Before you worry about increasing the weight that you lift, you need to master your technique. How you lift is just as important as what you lift. Failing to master your technique can have a few negative consequences, like:
- Making your weightlifting less effective
- Injuring or straining your muscles
- Targeting only a few muscles, and too much
- Training your muscles to move in harmful ways
When you develop your weightlifting routine, work with someone who has experience with strength building or with a personal trainer. Even just one session will help. Once you’ve learned about which exercises and machines do what and how to perform the motions properly, then you can safely and wisely create your routine and get started.
4. The Little Muscles Count Too
Obviously strengthening your major muscles is important and key to launching your weightlifting workout plans. Don’t skip over your little muscles though.
Considered foundational, many smaller muscles like those that make up the rotator cuff in the shoulder are essential for allowing your major muscles to be used and to grow properly. Basic exercises like lying L-fly seem simple and useless, especially since they don’t require much weightlifting at all.
Exercises like these, however, equip your body for everyday living and for optimal muscle growth overall. Include several different stretches and exercises in your workout routine that focus on toning and strengthening your little muscles.
5. Muscles Don’t Grow Without Nutrition
You can lift as many weights as you want, but you aren’t really going to get stronger if you aren’t eating properly. For your muscles to regrow healthily and effectively, you need a nutritious diet. Create a nutrition plan to go along with your workout routine.
It is best if your nutrition plan includes several small, protein-rich meals throughout the day. This will help to keep your muscles supplied with the nutrients they need to rebuild in between workouts. Focus on consuming fruits and veggies as well because they contain the vitamins and minerals your body needs to keep the balance as your grow stronger.
6. Focus on Long-Term Goals
One of the most important things you can do when you launch your weightlifting plan is to set and focus on long-term goals. Many weightlifters don’t notice improvements immediately. Sometimes it can take weeks before you will be able to lift heavier weights–or you may have to backtrack a little.
The process of gaining strength is a long one, but it is worthwhile. By setting long-term goals, you give yourself a reason to maintain consistency even when it seems like the process is really discouraging. Plan to reward yourself with new clothing after a couple of months, for instance, so that you have an incentive to keep lifting.