Between classes at F45 and weekly drill training in the park, there is a large variety of options available for you to exercise. But when you’ve been off the workouts for a bit, trying to ease into physical activity in a way that feels achievable can be overwhelming.
And you may think that there are more gentle options to start with than weight training. After all, when we think about weight, we tend to picture sweat, pain, and muscly bodybuilders.
But like any other exercise, weight training brings its fair share of benefits for both men and women. Between shaping a lean body and boosting your physical health, this workout helps build your cardio and your strength gradually, without the shock of being high intensity.
So what do you need to know about weight training, and how can you get started?
Using the expertise of fitness professionals and scientists we’ve compiled this well-rounded guide on weight training for beginners.
The Benefits Of Weight Training
Weight training is a medium-intensity workout. This category typically refers to how hard you’re exercising according to your heart rate. With a medium-intensity workout like weight training, your cardio sits between 50 to 70 % of its capacity. And this has its benefits.
Improve Immunity and Sleep
It’s been shown that the accelerated heart rate that comes with high-intensity workouts triggers our adrenal stress. The body struggles to differentiate exercise from a life-threatening situation, and with today’s lifestyle, both men and women are easily prone to stress and the health degradation that comes with it - aka poor immunity and sleep.
A 2017 study observed the influence of weight training on sleep and noted that participants had lower blood pressure after 6 weeks of activity and reported better sleep.
So while being active is important to burn excess calories, exercising smarter with weight training can increase mood levels, boost metabolism, and promote hormonal homeostasis - thanks to its combination of controlled cardio and movement.
Help With Weight Management and Fat Loss
When it comes to burning calories, weight training is particularly efficient without putting you out of breath. Lifting weights gradually on a regular basis has shown to increase the metabolic rate, meaning that your body burns more calories over time when you rest.
During weight training, your muscles continuously contract and break down. This suggests that as you shape them to be leaner, your body uses more fuel by tapping into stored fat. As a result, weight training helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Build Strength and Boost Physical Health
Weight training has many physical benefits, and strengthening all parts of your body is the most obvious. Whether that’s enhancing your bones health - as the muscles contract hard on it - or improving your posture - through increasing muscle density - weight training helps prevent injuries and maintain a strong body.
As we grow older, our muscles, joints, and ligaments naturally decrease in strength. Lifting weights helps to maintain our strength and prevents tears, pain, and break within the body. The result? A physical shield that is engaged, boosted, and strengthened.
What To Know Before You Start
Weight training is a great way to enhance your physical health gradually. However, there are a few do’s and don’t that you need to be mindful of before you get started.
Make Sure To Warm-Up
Preparing your body to contract muscles and lift weight is essential to avoid the potential injuries and tears coming your way. You can activate your muscles with a few mobility movements like a static jog, an active stretch or a foam rolling session. 2 to 5 minutes of warm-up is enough to get your muscles prepped and ready to workout.
Focus On Proper Form
There is a right and a wrong way of lifting weight. When you start to train, you want to make sure your body maintains good form. This includes keeping...
A long and aligned spine
Shoulders down and back
Shoulder blades slightly retracted
Core and glutes engaged
The best way to maintain a good posture? Don’t rush through the exercise. Use your breath instead to slowly lift the weight up and down, and keep your mind focused on your form at all time.
Choose and Increase Your Weight Carefully
To build muscle strength but not strain your muscles, you need to start with the most adaptable weight. But we know that as a beginner, this can be tricky to figure out. Fitness experts advise beginning your training with lighter weights and increasing gradually.
The idea is to choose a set of weights that allows you to do 10 to 12 reps comfortably. If you're struggling right at the beginning, it’s probably that your weights are too heavy. Notice the cues your muscles are giving you and work with your body. As you get stronger, you can increase your weights over time.
Don’t Forget To Nourish and Hydrate Yourself Properly
This may seem like a no brainer, but if you want to get the best results out of your weight training, pairing it with a healthy diet and properly hydrating yourself pre-during-post workout will help support your effort in shaping a sculpted and toned figure.
Enlist The Guidance Of A Personal Trainer
While Google is full of great workouts and tips on weight training, sometimes learning on your own can lead to bad form and many unwanted injuries. As a first-timer, seeking guidance from a personal trainer is a great way to learn the proper weight training technique. A PT can set up a tailored program for your body and teach you mobility, form, and how to work with your body.
A PT also provides you with professional support that can make a huge difference in maintaining motivation and seeing results. So don’t be afraid to seek a personal trainer, especially as a beginner. If you’re interested, we highly recommend one of our friends, Nick. He's got a tonne of experience, extremely knowledgable and will be more than happy to help you achieve your goals. You can get in touch with him on his website here: https://www.nickknows.com.au/
You’d be surprised to know that the only necessary equipment you need to start weight training is yourself. Especially as a beginner, learning to work with your own bodyweight is a great way to ease your muscles towards strength. With that being said, adding alternative weight options to your exercises can assist you in building and leaning your body more rapidly.
Dumbbells range anywhere from 1 to 60kg+. With one in each hand, you can enhance your workout in countless ways.
Kettlebells sit around 4 to 40kg on average, and are great to pair with squats or burpees style workouts.
Barbells offer more advanced and flexible options in terms of weight.
Building Your Weight Training Schedule
Now that you’re well-informed and ready to start your weight training journey, it is time to pull up your Google calendar, prep your workout gear, and plan your weekly training schedule.
As you’re about to browse fitness videos and Pinterest boards to find the best routine, make sure to keep your workout varied. Think of using different types of weights, exercising various muscle groups, and giving yourself at least 2 rest days spread throughout the week.
Remember that weight training is a journey. Feeling strong and seeing improvement in your health will require consistency. And the best way to keep yourself motivated is to tune in with your body, and train in a way that works for you.
Laura Alario is a freelance writer, wellness consultant and former yoga-pilates instructor. Find her at lauraalrwrites.com