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As a beginner, strength training can be overwhelming. You need to build a routine from several exercises, worry about injuries, and get shocked by all the different types of equipment at the gym. Fortunately, this guide can help you out.
Strength training can bring several benefits. It makes you burn more fat, look and stay younger, boosts your confidence, and improves your mood. However, you are often confused if you should prioritize cardio or lift more weights. The quick answer is both. You need to divide your routine between the two to get a balanced result. Now, let’s clear some misconceptions:
- You don’t need to know about every piece of gym equipment - You can take advantage of the orientation at your local gym, go through YouTube videos on the use of different gym equipment or ask your peers at the gym. People are more than happy to show you how things work.
- You don’t need a gym - Working out at home is free, private, convenient, and extremely safe during a pandemic. Moreover, there are numerous free online resources to guide you through your sessions.
- You don’t need machines or weights - As a beginner, you can do a lot of bodyweight exercises.
While you don’t need weights and equipment to start strength training, they can help you a lot with extra resistance for quicker results. If you aren’t going to the gym, you can buy a few sets of weights, exercise balls, and resistance bands. Often women avoid lifting weights in favor of cardio since they fear they might build large muscles. However, that’s not true. Women don’t create a significant amount of testosterone necessary for larger muscles. So, you can approach strength training with weights without any fear.
Choose your exercises
Let’s look at some of the exercises that help you target and improve a certain muscle group:
- Shoulders - Front raise, overhead press, and lateral press.
- Chest - Chest press, push-ups, and bench press
- Biceps - Hammer curls, concentration curls, and bicep curls
- Triceps - Dips, tricep extensions, and kickbacks
- Abdominals - Wood chops, reverse crunches, crunches, and pelvic tilts
- Back - Back extensions, lat pulldowns, and one-arm row
- Lower body - Lunges, squats, deadlifts, leg press, and calf raises
When you are a beginner it’s suggested that you try out different exercises and check out what’s best for you. For an effective routine, you should pair up a couple of upper body exercises with around three or four lower body exercises. Moreover, it’s recommended that you start with larger muscle groups since they require more energy and are more demanding and then move on to smaller ones.
It’s also important to allow a rest period for your muscle groups. So, if you work your chest and biceps on Monday, switch to your shoulders and triceps on Tuesday, and so on. If you do a full-body workout, you are better off working out 3 to 4 days a week so that all your muscles get ample rest. You can also hire a professional trainer to optimize a program catered to you.
Reps, Sets, and Weight
You are better off sticking with 3 to 5 sets for each exercise. However, reps can be different depending on your goals.
- Build muscle and lose fat - If you want to build more muscle volume and burn more fat, you should have around 6 to 12 reps for each set. It’s also important to keep the rest period short to half a minute or so between each set.
- Increase muscle density and power - The best way to make your muscles denser and stronger without bulking up is to exercise with heavy loads and fewer reps. If you lift heavy weights, you should be limited to around 5 reps for each set.
- Increase muscle endurance - To increase muscle endurance, you should do a lot of repetitions on each set with a light load. 12 to 20 reps should be good enough to increase your muscle endurance.
Don’t rush in with a heavy load and test your limit progressively by starting with a light load and adding on a bit more every time. It is also important that you do more reps for each exercise or increase the load a little bit after a few days to keep your muscles stimulated for the best results.
While you are strength training, don’t ignore one of the most important components - your diet. A diet plan with the proper ratio of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fat is extremely necessary for strength training.