Here’s some uplifting news: Strength training (a.k.a. resistance training) can help you build muscle and strengthen bone. It can also help you to burn calories and slim down, as muscle is more metabolically active and denser than fat. It improves sleep, boosts energy levels, and reduces the effects of aging when combined cardiovascular exercise in equal measure.
According to national guidelines, everyone should work out the major muscle groups at least twice per week. These include the legs, hips, back, chest, abdomen, shoulders, and arms. But be careful – improper form can lead to frustration and injury.
Before you get started, consider the following five tips from our Ellicott City fitness coaches.
- Stretch things out. Make sure to warm up for at least 15 minutes before exercising. This helps to increase your body’s range of motion. Don’t forget to cool down for another 10-15 minutes following your session. Hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds, here, and help your nervous system come down from that exercise high. Then find some water and drink lots of it.
- Technique comes first. Good form, not grandstanding, wins the day. Don’t pile on weights thinking that you’ll make up for lost time or appear impressive to those around you. Focus on smooth, slow, and precise motions. Proper form prevents injuries and hastens results. Many professionals even suggest using incredibly light weights – or no weights at all – until lifting technique is perfected. Consult a professional, like an Ellicott City fitness coach, for step by step instruction.
- Breathe. Like, every day, and always. When involved in a resistance workout, however, be sure to exhale with each exertion and inhale as you release the weight.
- Gradually increase weight and resistance. When you get to a point in your exercise routine where your form is perfect and the amount of weight no longer poses a challenge, it’s time to take things to the next level. Adding weight should not cause you to sacrifice form, but should have you feeling the burn by the final two reps.
- Don’t overdo it. Muscles need, at a minimum, 48 hours to recuperate between workout sessions. In fact, developing muscle requires a steady process of tearing muscle down and allowing it to repair. This is called hypertrophy. Give your body proper time to recharge. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and money.
A quick tip: Start small and build upon your successes. Two days a week works to begin with. Once you’ve hit your stride – add a third. You can even start with your own bodyweight. Try squats and pushups, and master the form for those workouts, before moving on to kettlebells and resistance bands, before moving on to studio equipment.
Our Ellicott City fitness coaches recommend 45 minute strength training sessions for beginners. You can start with dumbbells, two to three days per week, and we can help chart your progress as you graduate to heavier weights and a healthier lifestyle. Give us a call today at 410-750-2228.