Lifting weights requires proper technique to be safe and effective. Resistance tools such as dumbbells, barbells, weight machines and medicine balls have certain safety risks attached to them, and your muscles and joints need to support the resistance amount as you move it through a full range of motion. If proper positioning is not used, you may pull a muscle or injure a joint. Effective strength-training includes selecting the amount of resistance, number of sets and repetitions and frequency. When you weight train properly, you should see an increase in muscle and bone strength, improved muscle tone and an increase in power.
Choose your resistance type. Select from tools such as dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, weight machines, resistance bands or medicine balls. Hold the selected training tool in your hand to determine comfort. Use the piece only if the handles do not cause discomfort in your hands.
Select a resistance amount you are able to lift eight to 12 times. Decrease the weight amount if you cannot complete at least eight repetitions. Add weight if you are able to perform more than 12 repetitions. Increase your resistance by 5 to 10 percent when you comfortably complete 12 repetitions.
Begin with one set of eight to 10 different exercises for each muscle group. Include exercises for your shoulders, arms, chest, back, abdominals and legs. Increase the number of sets as your strength improves. Allow for 60 seconds of rest in between sets.
Lift the weights to a count of two and lower the weights to a count of three or four. Use this slow, steady rhythm to ensure you are using your muscles, not momentum, to move the resistance.
Exhale on the exertion of the exercise or when you lift the weight against gravity. Inhale as you lower the weight with gravity.
Complete your workout routine twice a week. Rest for two days in between strength-training workouts for muscle recovery.
Vary your workout routine at least every six weeks to encourage muscle response.
- Warm up before you weight train. Spend five to 10 minutes performing an aerobic activity such as walking, cycling or dancing to warm your muscles and prepare your body for strength training. Combine your workout with cardiovascular and flexibility training for optimal health benefits.
- Check with your doctor before you begin a resistance training program.
A mother of two and passionate fitness presenter, Lisa M. Wolfe had her first fitness article published in 2001. She is the author of six fitness books and holds an Associate of Arts in exercise science from Oakland Community College. When not writing, Wolfe is hula-hooping, kayaking, walking or cycling.