Weight training exercise offers many health benefits and lessons for life. Only you’ve got to do them right to reap the benefits!
Nancy shared her story on how she got started in “Weight Training Exercises: Do You Need Them?”
Nancy started her weight training exercise plan out of necessity: for pain and growing loss of function in her arms.
Now, she no longer has pain and says she learned some important lessons she now applies to her whole life.
I learned I had to listen to my body and respect what it’s telling me. Whenever I tried to do more than I was ready for, the pain returned. I had to stop my weight training for awhile and then start all over again.”I learned about “recovery.” Your muscles need time off from exercise to get strong. The time off is actually when you build muscle. Two to Three days a week with off day’s in-between is all you need. To do more actually harms you.
I started applying this to other areas in my life, taking time-off from work for family and fun. I think the same rule applies. When I return to my work, I’m more creative and fresh. I benefit, my family benefits, and so does my work.
How To Get Started
Weight training exercise is easy to incorporate into your lifestyle. It can involve free weights, machines (like Bowflex), body weight exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, and squats or isometric exercises.
The hardest part is often taking the first step—making the commitment. Once committed, you’re on your way by following these tips.
Tip # 1: Over 40 or have pain or physical limitations—see a health provider, before starting.
Tip # 2: Decide what you want to accomplish with weight training.
Does building bigger, more defined muscles appeal to you or do you want to simply maintain, tone, firm, and strengthen them?
This decision drives the intensity of your training. Intensity involves the number of repetitions performed and the amount of weight used.
Tip # 3: Respect your preferred learning style.
Some prefer learning on their own, others like the support of a group.
Books, AV resources, and in-home equipment with instructions abound for those who prefer learning alone. Community colleges and gyms offer training for those who like learning with others.
But, even if you prefer learning alone, it’s a good idea to start with going to a gym or using a personal trainer. This helps assure that you use the proper methods and form.
Tip # 4: Pick your trainer/gym wisely.
Look for someone who has received training from a credible organization such as the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA certification) or the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM certification).
Tip #5: Make sure your weight training exercise plan has these considerations.
Look for these key elements, says Paul Scott in Outside Fitness:
- Designed for you and accommodates your specific fitness level and goals.
- Has enough progression over time to meet your goals.
- Allows “recovery time” to support improvement, and prevent burnout and injury.
- Has enough variety to prevent boredom.
- Provides a schedule to help you stay organized, see you progression over time, and integrate the activities into your day-to-day life.
Tip # 6: Keep these basics in mind when performing weight training exercise.
- Warm up muscles by practicing without weights first.
“Such movement-specific warm-ups acclimate your body to the movement pattern through its full range of motion, which helps ensure that you will develop strength in the most functional manner possible,” says Scott.
- Build strength slowly.Begin with light weights that you can do to multiple sets of 10 to 20 repetitions.Once these sets (a grouping of exercise repetitions) feel easy they become less strength building and more muscular endurance exercises.You can stay at this level or move on to heavier weight if you want to build more muscle.
Make sure your motions are smooth and even. It’s important to have proper form as you’re not only training your muscles, your training your nervous system and memory too.
- Pay attention to your “core.”Your core is more than your “abs” (abdominals or as some say, “the six-pack”). The “abs” are the visible, superficial muscles of your core. The true core is a corset like overlapping muscle that links the upper and lower body, anchors the strength movement of limbs with a solid pillar of support, and stabilizes the pelvis.The core deserves a lot of respect and attention.It’s best to strengthen your core by doing ground-based movements that place you on your feet with your back unsupported, such as lunges, squats, standing cable presses, and abdominal rotations, says Scott.
Be mindful of your core during standing weight training efforts.
The workout sequence begins with upper body, followed by lower body, then core exercises.
- Breath awareness helps you engage muscles.Inhale before a lift, and exhale as you do the work.
- Don’t overdo it.There’s little value in doing more that two or three days a week. Start with two days a week when first beginning.
- Build in Recovery Time.Muscles need recovery after weight training exercise.“You may push the plates in the gym, but strength is created while at home on the couch. Your recovering muscles need a day off… Listen to your body, not your training chart,” says Scott.
Weight training exercise isn’t just for body builders they’re for you. It’s important for natural healing and getting fit. Make the commitment, follow these tips and you’re on your way!
You owe it to yourself, to your muscles, bones, and joints to begin weight training exercise today.