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Weight Training Basics

Weight Training Basics

Kathy Garbick

Weight Training Basics

  • Lift an appropriate amount of weight. Start with a weight you can lift comfortably 12 to 15 times.  For most people a single set of 12 repetitions with the proper weight is a good starting point.  For those looking to tone, 15 reps would be a good starting point. To gain muscle 8 to 10 reps is recommended.  As you get stronger, gradually increase the amount of weight.

  • Use proper form. Learn to do each exercise correctly. The better your form, the better your results — and the less likely you are to hurt yourself. If you're unable to maintain good form, decrease the weight or the number of repetitions. Remember that proper form matters even when you pick up and replace your weights on the weight racks. If you're not sure whether you're doing a particular exercise correctly, ask a personal trainer or other fitness specialist for help. 

  •  You might be tempted to hold your breath while you're lifting weights. Don't. Holding your breath can lead to dangerous increases in blood pressure. Instead, breathe out as you lift the weight and breathe in as you lower the weight. 

     

  • Seek balance. Work all of your major muscles — abdominals, legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms. Strengthen the opposing muscles in a balanced way, such as quadriceps and hamstrings. Avoid exercising the same muscles two days in a row. You might work all of your major muscle groups at a single session two or three times a week, or plan daily sessions for specific muscle groups. For example, on Monday work your arms and shoulders, on Tuesday work your legs, and so on.

  • Don't skip the warm-up. Cold muscles are more prone to injury than are warm muscles. Before you lift weights, warm up with five to 10 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic activity. 

  • Don't rush. Move the weight in an unhurried, controlled fashion. Taking it slow helps you isolate the muscles you want to work and keeps you from relying on momentum to lift the weight.  It’s important to work methodically through your exercise always being mindful of the muscles that you are engaging. 

  • Don't overdo. For most people, completing one set of exercises to the point of fatigue is typically enough. Additional sets may only eat up your time and contribute to overload injury.  Listen to your body and remember to push yourself but not overdue.  . 

  • Don't ignore pain.  If any exercise is causing you pain or great discomfort, stop. Consult a professional trainer to help create the proper exercise program that suits your needs.  If you have any pre-existing injuries be sure and tell your trainer.

  • Don't forget your shoes. Shoes with good traction can keep you from slipping while you're lifting weights.