Learn everything beginners need to know to get started with strength training
Get over your fear of the weight room with this helpful guide.
This article delivers expert advice on reps, sets, and what weight to use – everything a newbie (and maybe some experienced lifters!) might have questions about.
If you are uneasy tackling a training program among experienced weight lifters, it can help you take the intimidation out of the gym.
When you’re ready to take it to the next level, it even provides advice so you can advance safely.
Take a minute to read the article here!
The second you walk into the weight room, you’re faced with a million questions: How much weight should I lift? Once I actually find a dumbbell I can pick up, how many reps should I perform? How many sets? Does it even matter? If you’re a newbie, either to weightlifting or exercise in general, figuring this stuff out can feel as intimidating as the no-necks grunting over there by the squat rack.
Dumbbells for Rookies
First day in the weight room? Congrats! The key to getting started is to find weights light enough to successfully perform two to three sets of 12 to 17 reps, says strength coach Dan Trink, C.S.C.S., owner of Trink Fitness. But before you start ripping through a workout, you aren’t actually going to perform that many right off the bat. Aim for two to three sets of 10 to 12 reps, Trink says. The goal is to have two to five reps “in the tank,” meaning you could perform two to five more reps if you had to, after each set.
Why? Contrary to the “go big or go home” mentality, especially in the beginning, you don’t want to push your muscles to their max. That’s largely because, when you start a strength training program, you are training your mind just as much as you are training your body, Trink says. And we don’t mean that in a “mind over matter” way.
Your brain, spinal cord and motor neurons — which trigger groups of muscle fibers to contract and help lift your dumbbells — all have to work together to perform any movement. When you perform the first rep of a given exercise, your neurological system doesn’t know what the heck it needs to do to. (That’s why your first bench press rep can look so sloppy.)
Performing exercises in a pattern somewhere between 2×12 (two sets of 12 reps) and 3×10 (three sets of ten reps) allows you to really concentrate on every motion. Your neurological system will learn which muscle fibers need to contract and which need to relax. Plus, your muscles’ proprioceptors (which gauge how fast your muscles contract and how much pressure they’re under) will learn to adjust to the workload, Trink says.
Squats and Deadlifts for First-Timers
Compound movements like deadlifts and squats are way more complicated than, say, bicep curls. And your neurological system knows it. So, if you find that your form starts to suffer on your last few reps of these bigger, more complex movements, your neurological system may have hit its limit, Trink says. Try performing fewer reps per set. The goal is to really focus on your form so that your body learns the proper technique as early on as possible. You don’t want to have to learn to fix your form later on.
Lifting Heavier (Without Getting Hurt)
After eight weeks, it doesn’t matter if you’re trying to “tone up,” get in shape for a 10k, or put on sizeable muscles, you’ll need to start lifting more weight. A lot more weight. “If you keep doing the same thing there is a point of diminishing returns. Progression is key,” Dell says. (And no, women won’t “bulk up” by lifting heavy weights. Their hormonal makeup doesn’t allow them to put on muscle size the way guys do, Trink says.)
Source: Life by Daily Burn