Careless exercise techniques can leave us in worse shape than it was before. When starting a strength training program, your first thought should be about “safety first”. However, many people put this important consideration last, at least until a huge dumbbell is accidentally dropped on their toes, which cause them to skip training for a few weeks or months. Pulls, strains, sprains and other exercise-related injuries will wreak havoc on your progress. So, it is important to exercise thoughtfully and watch your form.
With all the conflicting information available online, planning a training workout can be tricky. You shouldn’t be worry about differing opinions, because it is more important for you to just get started, after a while you can refine your plan down the road.
After you have all important basics incorporated into your regular training exercise, you should improve it by rotating your focus between different muscle groups. Here are a few advices to get the best results from each workout session:
• Alternate between lower and upper part of your body during strength training sessions: For example, work out your lower body at one day and the upper body (back, chest and arms) the next. Each strength training session actually causes very small tears in your muscles, which can heal in one or two days. Consequently, focusing on a specific muscle for three or four consecutive days can increase the risk of injury. A normal resting and healing period is important to repair damages and as the result you can get, healthy and stronger muscles.
• Add intensity and change the training order after six weeks of continuous strength training. At this stage, your muscles are stronger and can accept higher training intensity.
• Warm up properly: Perform about 15 minutes of light cardio sessions (like jogging or walking). Stretching between reps and exercises are important to avoid injury.
• Focus on largest muscle group first and continue to the next largest. Wrong order can cause ineffective overall training. For example you can start from quadriceps, hamstrings and then calves. You should perform all required quadriceps exercises before continuing with hamstring exercise, this way, you can minimize muscle fatigue and maximize muscle buildup.
• If you’re new to strength training, you can start exercise on one muscle group and do a set of twelve reps of each exercise. After six weeks, you should slightly increase the number of reps and the amount of weights to improve the effectiveness of your training without risking an injury.
• Choose the right weight: Your goal is not to use the heaviest weight possible, but to choose an amount of weight that can be both very effective without risking an injury. You should choose a weight that can make your muscle moderately fatigued after one set. If a weight is too light, it would take too long to gain the desired results and if it’s too heavy, you may risk damaging your joints, muscles or even bones. For example, you may choose a 12-pound dumbbell for one set of 13 reps, if the last few reps are a struggle, you are choosing the right weight. If you can’t reach ten reps, then choose lighter weights and if 18 reps or more are a breeze, go heavier.
• Use weight machines first before using free weight. It is important to have an adequate coordination and muscles mass to stabilize your body during an exercise. Weight machines are easier to use, which can prepare you for free weights.
• Seek a good form: This is more important than struggling for a heavier weight, which can increase the risk of injury. Therefore, in a few weeks, you should focus on a correct exercise technique. A good form can allow you gain maximum results with lighter weights and it can accelerate your progress. It is important to consult a personal trainer to see whether you have a good form.
Beginners should consult with professionals to know whether they have the fitness and health for a strength training session. If you don’t fit certain parameters, the experts may advise a modified training regime. The first few sessions should be accompanied with a personal trainer who can help to find the right form for your unique condition.
It is also a good idea to rent or buy training videos to give you visual instruction on a proper form, these are steps you should do to prevent injury during a strength training session:
• Use the correct body alignment: When standing, both feet should be aligned with the width of your shoulders, with both knees slightly bent.
• Move carefully: Each movement should be controlled and slow. You don’t compete with anyone, determining a pace is the same like choosing weight, you should struggle at the last few reps.
• Breathe properly: Our muscle cells need enough oxygen, so breathe regularly. Inhale when lifting and exhale when releasing.
• Don’t over-train. The “no pain, no gain” motto shouldn’t be used literally during a strength training. Painful training sessions only lead to joints and muscles injuries. Beginners tend to overdo their training at the first few weeks, which can burn them quickly. The agonizing aftermaths may make them feel that strength training is an excruciating exercise with limited gain. It may diminish their motivation and in some cases stop them from continuing the training. The injury can reverse your progress and put you back to the starting line.
• During stretching, seek a moderate muscle tension and hold for ten seconds.
There are times when you should take it easy, because you may push your body too hard sometimes. These are signs that you’re overdoing it:
• You are below normal body weight
• No results despite increased efforts
• Infections happen more easily
• Unpleasant burning sensations on the muscle
• Elevated heart rate
• Loss of appetite
• Insomnia and other sleeping problems
If you are experiencing three or more of the above symptoms, it is a good idea to take a few days of rest and see the doctor to get a diagnosis. Body transformation happens by both losing fat and gaining muscle mass. Strength training for obese people should be approved by a doctor. In general, this training won’t impede weight loss or make you look heavier. Strength training can encourage weight loss because well-trained muscles have higher metabolic rate, which require more energy at basal state. For each pound of muscle mass we add, our body require about 40 calories each day at resting state. If calories intake is stable, the extra energy needed will be taken from the fat reserves, which make you lose weight.