If you’re looking to incorporate strength training into your workout routine, knowing where to start as a beginner can be tricky. For many of us, standing in front of a selection of weights with no idea of what to do or how to do it is a daunting feeling – but everybody starts somewhere and once you’ve got the hang of it, the rest is history.
Have a plan of action
Never jump into a new type of exercise without a plan in place! Do your research on muscle groups, exercises to build those muscle groups and basic lifting skills, and then plot your way around your workout space so you can get the most from each session. Getting stuck in without any structure to your training, especially having never lifted before, is only going to set you back before you’ve even got going. Not sure where to begin? Getting started with a good Standard or Olympic Weight Set is a good way of figuring out what type of lifting you enjoy.
Depending on your background you might have existing strength already, which will make you feel as though you can power your way through set after set of heavy weights, but this isn’t a good idea. Start slow and work your way up over time. You wouldn’t expect to run before you can walk, so don’t expect to lift like Arnie when you’ve never even held a dumbbell. Wherever your health is concerned, things must take time to perfect.
Check your form
Form is the most important thing of all. Stand up straight, ensure your positioning is correct and as we said above, take things slowly. The minute you start performing an exercise incorrectly, you’re at risk of causing injury. YouTube videos are a great way to see how exercises should be performed, or failing that, speak to a professional.
Put on your favourite motivational playlist or zone out completely, whatever works for you. Keeping a close watch on your overall performance is crucial for each session. The minute you’re distracted, you lose focus and your form will begin to drop.
Seek help when necessary
Similarly to our previous point, don’t be afraid to ask for guidance on even the smallest of things! Asking for advice to avoid hurting yourself is something which more people should be doing. If you need help, remember we’re always here to chat via phone, LiveChat, email or in-store. Oh, and expect others to ask you for help once you’re more experienced. Spotting each other is the best way to make sure you’re both working out safely and effectively.
Explore your options
Whether you start off with dumbbells and kettlebells, bars and weight plates, or trusty multi-gyms – find what works for you and what you enjoy using, and go from there. Keeping a good mix of gym equipment in your workout is great to keep things varied, though you’ll no doubt find a favourite that you keep going back to. Consider that your strength training ‘comfort blanket’.
Keep yourself hydrated
Did you know that muscle contains more than 70% water? Keeping yourself topped up with good old H2O is so important, particularly because – believe it or not – you’ll sweat an awful lot when lifting. It’s not just cardio that burns fat! Plenty of lifters carry a towel around with them to clean the equipment as they go, and perhaps another for their faces, so we recommend following suit to avoid soggy benches and puddles on the floor.
Warm up and cool down
Onto the ‘boring’ part. Warming up and cooling down might seem laborious, but doing so will further prevent the risk of injury. Your muscles need to be stretched pre and post workout to help them repair and recover. So whatever you do, don’t skip it!
Make sure you rest
Ah, the lifting bug. You might be itching to get back to your strength training ASAP, but rest is incredibly important. Without rest, and without the stretching that we mentioned before, your body simply can’t recover and it will begin to grow weaker and cause you pain. Make sure you’re not overdoing it during your training, and then take a day between each workout to rest.
Check your nutrition
If you really want the best from your training, you’re going to need to eat right. 80% of your success comes from what food you put into your body, and we all know that we need to fuel our muscles for them to perform and grow, so don’t cut out those carbs and keep your protein intake in check!
Track your workouts
Last but not least, it’s time to monitor your progress. The best way to do this is to carry around a little notepad or log your workout in your phone. This way you can see your progression over time, and perhaps spot any weaker aspects of your training along the way. It doesn’t need to be anything in-depth, just a brief list of what you lifted and how many reps/sets will do.