If you’re a fitness newbie, strength training may seem like an incredibly daunting prospect. You might be thinking that you’re going to turn into a grunting, muscly macho man after you’ve lifted a few weights, but strength training is actually a crucial part of your fitness regimen that can’t be ignored.
While it’s true that it will build muscle strength, it will also improve your posture and increase your metabolic rate so that you can burn more calories throughout the day. Yes, it’s a little intimidating at first, but once you know what to do, you can start to evolve your routine. Fitness holidays are a great way for beginners to get to grips with a regular exercise regimen that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Start with your bodyweight before you build up
The purpose of strength training is using resistance to make your muscles work harder. That’s why you don’t necessarily need a hardcore weight machine to put the effort in. To begin, you can use your own bodyweight as a tool to build muscle and burn fat. You could also use kettlebells, TRX bands, resistance bands and medicine balls to keep it simple and focused.
Prep your muscles
An effective strength workout can only be achieved with a proper warm-up. Get to work foam rolling your muscles to loosen up any that might be tight. You should also do a mini cardio workout to get your heart racing. This can be a few minutes of light jogging, star jumps, burpees or dynamic stretching and it will mean that you’ll find it easier to increase your range of motion as you’re training.
Pair upper body moves with lower body moves
Hardcore weightlifters will often talk about “leg day”, but for beginners who are only training a few days a week, a full body workout is the best way to go. In that case, you’ll have to learn how to combine exercises to train both your upper and lower body at the same time. You should also try to achieve a balance between exercises that require you to pull and those that require you to push. Here are some of the best:
• Squats and push-ups
• Walking lunges and lat pulldowns
• Romanian deadlifts and overhead press
• Mountain climbers and bench rows
Work your imbalances
It’s likely that you’ll be stronger on one side of your body than the other. This is completely normal and not something that should put you off your training. A lot of personal trainers recommend that you isolate each side of your body when you’re doing strength training, so you’re relying on only those muscles. The aim is to get balanced strength on each side of your body.
Rest and refuel
Strength training, even as a beginner, will cause tiny tears in your muscles. This is a good thing, but only if you allow the tears to heal correctly. It’s recommended that you take 24 – 48 hours to rest your muscles after each workout. When you’re starting to get into the swing of things, it can be easy to go overboard, but you must listen to your body and be aware of any injuries or pain.