Weight lifting for beginners doesn't have to be complicated. It is an important part of improving strength, getting the body balanced, and creating a lean and healthy body. When weight lifting is combined with cardiovascular exercise, the body becomes much healthier.
The problem is that beginners need to learn the basics before getting to an advanced routine or starting to add weight.
Ask Your Doctor
The medical checkup is the first part of starting any weight lifting or exercise routine. Beginners should always get a full medical checkup and discuss their exercise plan and goals with a doctor before getting started. You may be thinking "turn your head and cough" is a little unnecessary to start lifting, but it is serious to make sure you don't have any complications that could put your saftey at risk.
Doctors will want to run tests for high cholesterol, diabetes, or other health problems that might make exercise dangerous or require special advice to make the exercise as safe as possible.
Women who are concerned about pregnancy should not lift weights until after determining they are not pregnant. If you are pregnant, discuss exercise options with a medical doctor to ensure the health of both mother and child are as safe as possible.
Health concerns that might require special instructions or medical supervision in the beginning include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart conditions
Once you're given the "All Clear!", it's time to get down to business!
Getting Appropriate Gear
Beyond checking your health, take some prep time when beginning to use weights to get the right gear and equipment. Using the gym will be easier with the proper shoes, clothing, and a water bottle. These are simple but can make a big difference in the quality of your time at the gym.
The shoes are one of the most important aspects of weight lifting. The best shoes are lifting shoes, but it is not necessary to invest in new shoes if the current sports shoes have a firm grip and do not have any added height in the heel. Newbies don't need to show up to their first workout in hundreds of dollars of professional-looking gear, but they can think about what pair of shoes they already own is best.
The best shoes are anything designed for sports that are also non-slip. During weight lifting, it is important to avoid slipping or even the potential. That means getting a shoe that has a firm grip, regardless of the style.
Other clothing needs to feel comfortable and provide ease of movement, but it should not contain any loose parts that can end up trapped or caught on a machine. Otherwise, any comfortable clothing is great! Bringing a water bottle is suggested while weight training because the body needs to remain hydrated for optimal performance. Don't ever underestimate how much water your body need to keep going.
Learn Proper Form
There's nothing quite as emotionally painful as sitting in a machine nervously trying to move parts in the right direction while gym veterans wait their turn. Beginners should never start lifting until the form is learned and understood. Lifting weights with improper form is a major reason that the body ends up injured during basic exercise.
The proper form varies based on the particular exercise. It might range from keeping the back straight while working on those pushups to that silly-looking sitting position commonly seen during squats. Newbies shouldn't be afraid to look foolish asking about the right form; they will look foolish anyways using the equipment the wrong way!
The particular form for any exercise differs, and all beginners should learn the form to ensure that they are able to properly manage it without weight before starting the exercise with weights.
Learning proper form requires more than simply looking at the exercise on a television or computer screen. It will require getting someone else involved and asking whether the form is correct. The spotter will notice any potential problems and explain where improvements are necessary. When the form is consistently correct, it's time to get started with the additional weight.
Start with Light Weights
Hold on champ! Don't go for the max weights to impress your friends right away. As a beginner, it is important to start with light weights while focusing on getting the form right before working on adding heavier weight. The goal of the beginner is learning the form, ensuring that the proper form is maintained during the entire exercise. Form a habit of lifting weights correctly.
Once a habit is formed and the proper form is always observed, is it time to consider adding more weight. Starting with light weight might not seem important, but it will have an impact on the body and will make proper form a habit.
A spotter can ensure form is correct. Unfortunately, a spotter might not be able to offer much advice about creating a personal routine that meets individual goals or adding new exercises. That might be a little more complicated.
Getting help in motivationa and long-term goals is the next part of improving weight training. Help comes in a few potential forms: a live instructor, websites and books. The best form of assistance in the beginning is an instructor.
A personal trainer or teacher is able to give immediate advice, work out a plan based on personal goals, and fix problems immediately when they occur to prevent the formation of poor habits.
Websites often offer tips and advice about creating a routine. Workout plans and accountability (and even friendly competition in one of our fitness groups) are now available online to make your workouts easier and more goal efficient.
Books offer another method of getting the exercises down, but books are limited to the type of information specialized in the books. It might give advice about making a personal routine or about the exercises, but it usually will not provide both.
After speeding through the beginning details of getting the form into a habit and making a routine, it's time to get started. As a beginner, it is best to plan weight lifting 2 or 3 times a week at the beginning and increase as the body adjusts to the new exercises.
The ultimate goal is increasing weight lifting three to four days a week and increasing the difficulty. Nobody wants to be the newbie at the gym, but with a quality workout and some committment, you can quickly become a respected veteran.
Here's an outline of our Beginner Workout Plan:
Workout 1(Chest and Triceps)
- Bench Press: 3 sets of 8
- Dumbbell Incline Bench Press: 3 sets of 8
- Bench Dip: 3 sets of 8
- Tricep Pushdown: 3 sets of 8
- Jogging: 6 minutes
Workout 2(Back and Biceps)
- Machine-assisted Chin-Up: 3 sets of 8
- Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown: 3 sets of 8
- Alternating Dumbbell Curl: 3 sets of 8
- Seated Cable Row: 3 sets of 8
- Elliptical Trainer: 6 minutes
Workout 3(Legs, Shoulders, & Abs)
- Squat: 3 sets of 8
- Seated Military Press: 3 sets of 8
- Narrow Stance Leg Press: 3 sets of 8
- Calf Press: 3 sets of 8
- Crunch: 3 sets of 8
- Step Mill: 6 minutes
Weight lifting is an important part of building muscle and keeping weight in a healthy range. The body needs weight training as part of a normal, healthy exercise program. The key to getting started is taking time to learn as much as possible and then starting the exercises slowly to build a long-lasting habit. Make sure to have a quality plan to keep you motivated!
Here at WeightTraining.com, we want to see potential turn into muscle. If you're new to the gym, don't let inexperience or intimidation stop you from getting a more active, healthy lifestyle. Use our forums and workout logging to stay motivated and start one of our workout plans to get where you want to be. Get started today!