A beginner's guide to strength training
With strength training hailed as one of the best and most effective ways to build a healthy body and mind, PT and wellness founder Rachael Sacerdoti applies her expert knowledge for the most informative guide to lifting weights for the first time
While yoga is a great all-round workout for anyone, and can help build a stronger body, resistance training is also becoming increasingly popular as a tool to develop resilience and power up.
Use it or lose it is something I always think of when it comes to our muscles. As we age, muscle mass naturally decreases — this is why resistance training is so important.
The most effective way to invest in your strength, along with helping to lift your energy levels and speed up your metabolism, resistance training also helps with mobility, range of motion, balance, and bone density.
Despite its many merits, weight training can be a daunting prospect for many, especially if you are a first-timer with no idea where to begin. If that sounds like you, here’s a quick 101 guide to lifting weights for beginners.
Start small, preferably with your body weight until your confidence and strength builds. Over time, begin to add more resistance, slowly. Top Tip: If you can’t lift 10 reps x two sets of your chosen weight then you need to lighten the load. The right weight should feel challenging, but not uncomfortable at the end of your set.
Form is everything
Like most exercises, to reap the benefits and see real rewards, you have to perfect the move and ensure your form is on point. When it comes to lifting weights, your technique should be your number one concern. Lifting incorrectly will compromise your workout and can lead to serious injury. This will also knock your confidence and your enjoyment of the workout. Slow your movements down and if possible, always work out in front of a mirror.
Prep your muscles accordingly with a proper warm-up. Always! Activating your muscles — in particular the ones you will be working — is crucial. Using a foam roller or simple mobility movements to warm the muscles is simple yet highly effective.
Sip, sip, sip!
Water is the fountain of life, which is why it amazes me that we all need to remind each other to drink more of it! Staying hydrated before, during, and after your workout will enhance your performance so make sure you are getting enough.Try to consume three litres a day. If you find it tricky to drink enough, try adding a squeeze of lemon or a slice of cucumber.
Consistency is king
Resistance at least three times a week will see your strength increase quickly enough that you will begin to fully appreciate the benefits of lifting weights.
Incorporate rest days to ensure you are giving your muscles enough time to recover in-between workouts. Active recovery such as walking, stretching, and yoga is a good way to gently increase your blood flow which in turn will help rebuild the muscle.
Up your protein intake
Vital for everybody of every age, high-quality protein is an essential part of a healthy diet helping to build and
repair cells, bones, muscles, and joints. Crucially helping to prevent muscle loss (something that happens naturally as we age), an increase in your daily protein intake is imperative if you want to stay fit and strong.
Master the art of progressive overload by pushing yourself slightly further than your last workout. Once you have your form down to a tee, you can slowly begin to add more weight, or up your reps by one each time. Stay consistent to keep your muscles adapting and growing with each workout.