Strength Training Tips
When getting started in weight training, no need spending extra money on designer sports clothes and equipment. You can find most essential items in retail sports outlets or gym shops. Since you'll be bending and stretching, you need to select clothes that are comfortable rather than the latest fashion. Gym shoes need to fit well, support the feet, and have ribbed soles for a firm grip.
- Consistency is the most important component in building strength.
- Remember to breathe correctly with your resistance training sessions. Beginners often hold their breath while lifting, which may raise blood pressure...and can cause cramping or fainting if you strain too hard. You need to breath to supply oxygen to the muscle cells so your muscle contracts. Breathing also helps deliver energy and builds the muscle. Get in the habit of inhaling deeply and exhaling completely. Exhale when you lift the weight and inhale when you lower it.
- Body concentration is important. When lifting a weight from the floor, fix your eyes on a spot about halfway up a wall and keep them there throughout the lift
- Keep your back straight while lifting. Bend only from the knees.
- To build muscular strength, try staggering your exercises. Spend one workout on upper body and the next on the lower body. Concentrate on your form and work slowly on activities that work specific muscles groups.
- Work larger muscles first. Also arrange your routine so that you work one muscle group, then its opposite. (quadriceps lifts and hamstrings, biceps and triceps, etc.)
- Work slowly and steadily. Fast movements are less productive for shaping and toning and can cause injury.
- Use a full range of motion. For each rep, move the joint through its maximum extension and flexion. A muscle that makes only a partial movement performs less work and can lose flexibility. Do not flex or extend so far that the joint is suddenly bearing the workload: That should always be the job of the muscle.
- Don't forget to rest between each set, usually 1-2 minutes. You need to rest to restore energy to the muscle for the next set. If your rest period is too short, you will exhaust yourself. If it's too long, the next set will not make you work harder. If you are performing only one set of an exercise, you need to rest only a few seconds before startign an exercise that stresses a different set of muscles.
- Don't forget to cool down after your workout. Stopping abruptly can produce light-headedness or fainting. Try doing one of your warm-up routines to keep blood circulating and help your muscles to recover.
- If you are untrained and are starting a new resistance training program, you can expect to gain about 2-4 pounds of muscle within the first 2 months, and you will also gain around 40-60% more strength. After the initial training period is over the development of strength slows down, but you will continue to get stronger as long as you continue to overload your muscles.
- To improve your muscles, you have to push them beyond their normal range of comfort. Challenging your muscles beyond their normal state is what makes them respond by growing and improving. This is termed as "overloading" your muscles.
- A sign that you are overloading your muscles is the lactic acid burn that you feel in the last few difficult repetitions during resistance training. This burning sensation is "ok", and is a good sign. The lactic acid is what signals your body to stop and rest. It is the other forms of pain that you need to watch out for, as they could mean injury has occurred.
- Don't forget to keep track of your progress. Retest your strength and reassess your appearnace. Once you have achieved the look and strength you want, you don't need to increase your workload any further. But you do need to keep working out to maintain the benefits.
- Variety: How long have you been doing 3 sets of 10? Give that strength workout a real kick by changing things around a bit. Try lifting heavier weights for less reps, or lighter weights for a higher number of reps. Or, better yet, incorporate both! Do 2 sets, but start out with heavy weights for the first set, completing 5-8 reps. Then, rest and do a second set with light weights fatiguing at 12-15 reps. This will jump start your muscles, work both fast and slow twitch fibers and up your calorie burn considerably!
- Looking for a change of pace in the strength training department? Drop the weights for a day and join in on a strength training class. Most all gyms offer some sort of "muscle conditioning" class that will have you pushing and pulling all kinds of different fitness equipment bands, tubes, balls, weights, plus....you will do many exercises simultaneously with partners (something you won't see in a weight room). A fitness class typically lasts an hour and will work your full body. There is usually a flexibility component during the last 10 minutes of class.
- Strength training helps builds muscles which burn more calories even while you're sleeping. (A pound of muscles burns 50 calories even while you sleep.) Strong muscles also help support your joints and prevent injuries during exercise, but strength training also shortens and tightens your muscles, making them more susceptible to injury. To battle the natural loss of flexibility that can come not only with strength training but also with aging, add a 5- to 10-minute stretching session to all of your workouts.
- Did you know that adding a strength-training component to your cardio workout can boost your overall fitness level? In a recent study, women who combined step aerobics with resistance training experienced greater improvements in muscular performance and cardiovascular fitness than women who participated only in step aerobics.
- Why is it important to strengthen and firm your abdominal muscles? Your abdominal muscles are essential to many everyday movements, such as walking sitting, jumping, squatting, reaching, breathing, and good posture. Like powerful rubberbands, the abdominal muscles transfer force between your upper and lower body. They help stabilize and power your body in almost every type of exercise.
When working properly, your abdominal muscles support both your organs and your back. You cannot have a healthy back or good posture without strong abdominal muscles.