These tips are designed for anyone who wants feel comfortable lifting some weights in a safe and productive fashion.
Lifting weights has many benefits for our health, fitness and body composition. Women should not fear doing weights. Many women think they will get big and bulky if they lift anything more than pink fluffy dumb bells. This is just a pure myth. It’s akin to fearing that you may get selected for the Olympics because you did a few 10k runs! Women just don’t possess the hormones in their bodies to easily grow substantial level of muscle. Those that do manage to acquire high levels of muscle must do colossal training and eat an exceptionally strict diet whilst taking particular dodgy ‘supplements’.
Rather weights or resistance training will give you that toned, lean and slim physique that most women desire. Men are easier sold on the weights training road and are generally easier to convince of its merits.
Building muscle is also every beneficial for increasing your metabolic rate. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat so if you have more muscle you, not only do you look better but you also burn more calories than someone with less muscle.
Other benefits include improved bone density, reduced risk of injury and improved strength (why be weak when you can be strong!)
So those are some reasons why should not fear some weights, here are some ways to do it effectively.
1. Warm up.
The purpose of a warm up is to increase your body temperature and increase blood flow, put your limbs through a full range of motion and stimulate muscle fibres for action. This ensure you reduce your likelihood of injury.
A warm up should replicate some of the exercises that will be done during the main exercise. Some dynamic stretches can be used in the warm up to improve mobility and range of motion.
2. Start off gradually.
If you are new to using weights then you will need to start off easy for the first few weeks. Your muscles will not be used to this new stimulus and will need some time to adapt.
3. Practice perfect form
Regardless of whether you are a novice or have been lifting weights a few years, you should never compromise on form. Your technique should always be spot on. There is nothing worse than seeing some young lad trying to impress his buddies by doing bicep curls whilst swinging his back to and fro to help lift the weight. Not only is he failing to work his biceps but he is also risking injury. He may also be failing to put the muscle through a full range of motion meaning only half the muscle is getting worked
If you are new to lifting weights and are not sure of your form, get a trainer who can help you or check out some videos on youtube. You are better off lifting a lighter weight with perfect form than risking an injury by lifting a big weight just to boost your ego.
4. Master your own bodyweight
Can you do full body press ups? Can you hold a plank for 30 seconds? Can you perform a number of body weight squats whilst maintaining a straight back? Can you do a chin up?
If the answer is no, then you need to become better at the basics.
These moves should form the basis of your programme if you are new to resistance training.
5. Balance muscle groups
Some people are vain and do weights to look good. Unfortunately when they look in the mirror, they fail to realise that their poor back needs to be developed too. Therefore many men will have well developed chests and biceps and poorly developed backs. This will cause poor posture with a curved rounded forward tilt because of the excessive pull from their stronger chest muscles.
It is very important to balance muscle groups. If you work your bicep, you must work your tricep. Agonist and antagonist.
When thinking about the arms, it is easier to think about pushing and pulling. Pushing exercises would be press up, bench press, shoulder press and pulling exercises would be chin up and varieties of a row.
With the legs we must try and balance hip dominant (glute and hamstring) exercises such as a dead lift with knee dominant (quads) exercise such as the squat.
If you keep this in mind when working in the gym, you will be less likely to have muscle imbalances and get injured.
6. Write everything down
As you progress, you need to keep a record of how many reps and sets you are completing. This enables you to see if you are actually making any progress or whether you are just doing the same as we did at the start. You should always be trying to beat old times and reps and to constantly improve. Get a notebook and pens and jot down every exercise you do and the volume of exercise.
7. Have a plan
We have all done it…you come to the gym and have a look around. You have a drink of water, you survey the free machines. Eventually you decide to jump on the bike for a few minutes . You then get chatting to some lad you know for 10 minutes and maybe decide to do a few weights, a few reps of this and that. You might check your phone a few times and decide ‘ah feck it, that’ll do me!’ And head off home having done very little.
The moral of the story here is that you must come with a plan. Aim to do certain exercises. Record your sets and reps and know exactly what you plan to do. Otherwise you are only shooting in the dark and it will be impossible to track progress.
8. Eat well
This doesn’t apply in the gym but it would be remiss of me not to mention food. If you are exercising hard your body will need the proper nutrients to refuel and regenerate. You will need sufficient protein to stimulate muscle and tissue growth, carbohydrate and fat to fuel the efforts. You need a vast array to micro nutrients and minerals from fruit and vegetables to preserve and improve health and vitality. Without adhering to a sensible, healthy,nutrition plan, any efforts in the gym not be maximised.
9. Rest and recover
Sleep, sleep and more sleep. Aim to be in bed by 11 and seven hours should be a minimum target. Our muscle and tissues regenerate as we sleep and growth is stimulated during this time. If we neglect sleep, our gym efforts again will suffer as a result.
10. Foam roll and stretch
Over the years our bodies may become used to various positions such as sitting at a computer or driving in the car. Unfortunately these positions tend to create a hunched bent over posture which can be difficult to fix. This causes various muscles such as the hip flexors to tighten up and shorten because of lack of use. We tend to think of a lack of mobility with older people but with many people spending hours everyday in sedentary desk jobs, it is becoming more prevalent issue for people a lot younger.
We should set aside 10-15 minutes every day to foam roll and stretch. This will not only help our ability to do the exercises better but will improve our how we move and perform in our everyday lives.
Check out the link for a guide to foam rolling. http://youtu.be/tu3nnOGAfdA
This lassie here you can be sure wasn’t afraid of a few weights!