Exercising your muscles with a stronger-than-normal counterforce, such as pushing against a wall or lifting a dumbbell or pulling on a resistance band, is called strength training. Muscles become bigger and stronger through progressively heavier weights or increased resistance. This type of exercise improves muscle mass, tones muscles, and strengthens bones. It also aids in weight loss, boosts the metabolism, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and alleviates fatigue. Strength training is also a type of cardiovascular exercise that can help you control your blood sugar if you have diabetes.
Strength training is safe for almost everyone if performed correctly. The Mayo Clinic suggest that people at any fitness level can benefit from resistance training.
However, it’s important to have realistic expectations. If you haven’t been active for a while, you probably won’t achieve the body of your dreams in just a few weeks of strength training. But if you stick with it, regular strength training can help improve how you look and feel, particularly when combined with a healthy diet.
American Health and Fitness has just what you need to get started on your strength-training journey. However here are 7 tips for a safe and successful program.
Before you start a strength training program, consult with your physician and/or an athletic trainer or personal trainer at the gym . That way, you’ll learn how much weight is too much for your muscles and bones. You also can find out which muscle groups each exercise targets and whether you need to warm up before lifting weights.
Find a comfortable weight or resistance that challenges your muscles
You don’t want to push yourself too hard, but you also don’t want to be so weak that the exercise is easy for you. The right amount of weight will make it difficult to do another repetition without help, but you’ll still be able to do the exercise with proper form.
Our muscles need oxygen when we work out, and most people use only a fraction of their lung capacity when exercising. When you lose your breath, that’s a signal that your muscles don’t have enough oxygen and that you’re using too much energy. To improve your lung capacity, inhale deeply through your nose as you lower the weight and exhale as you lift it.
Aim for a healthy heart rate
The risk of getting injured increases when you push yourself too hard during exercise. A good measure of whether you’re exerting yourself sufficiently or going overboard is to keep your heart rate between 60 and 80 percent of your maximum heart rate during strength training. Don’t worry about calculating the numbers; you can use an online calculator or estimate based on this formula (220 – your age = Max Heart Rate) .
An alternative measure is to do the “talk test“. If you can’t talk normally while exercising, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard. If you can easily carry on a conversation without gasping for air, that’s just right.
Do different exercises every workout
This prevents your muscles from getting used to the movements and helps you avoid injury. Examples of great exercises for strengthening muscle include squats, lunges, lunges with a twist, hip extensions and presses. When using machines at the gym, try to use free weights as well — you’ll strengthen more muscles that way.
Perform exercises for opposing muscle groups
Here’s why: If you don’t work your back and chest together, the front of your body will be stronger than the back. The same thing happens if you work your arms but don’t train your legs. Over time, this can cause muscle imbalances and injuries.
Rest at least one day between strength training workouts
Your muscles become stronger and more toned when they repair themselves after a workout. If you strength train every day, your muscles won’t have the time they need to recover. Instead, try strength training two or three times a week. This will give your muscles enough time to repair themselves and become stronger than before.
Strength-training is an important part of any fitness routine, and it’s not as difficult or time consuming as you might think. These seven tips should help get you started on the right foot, but if you have any questions be sure to ask a trainer at American Health and Fitness. Joining a gym can be daunting, but we promise it’s worth it! Not only will you get access to top-of-the-line equipment and trainers who can help you achieve your fitness goals, but you’ll also make new friends and feel better about yourself in just a few short weeks. What are you waiting for? Join us today!