The weightlifting area of the gym can be a pretty intimidating place when you’ve never before dared to enter. Where do you start? It’s no wonder many beginners stay just that -- beginners. Weightlifting isn’t as confusing as you think. It’s just a matter of knowing the basics before doing your first rep. Resistance training is beneficial for men and women, so it’s a good idea to add weightlifting to your workout regimen. A few of the benefits include a more toned body, stronger bones and improved cardiovascular health.
Pre and Post Workout
It’s important to prepare your body before each workout and cool your body down afterward. Don't eat just before your workout, but make sure you’ve eaten something within the previous one to two hours; you’ll need the energy to perform your best. Always sip water before, during and after the workout. After each workout, eat a snack rich in carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates help replenish your body’s supply of glucose – its main energy source – and protein helps rebuild your muscles. Examples of good post-workout snacks include a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread or a glass of chocolate milk.
As a beginner, forget about trying to spend five days a week at the gym pumping iron for two hours each session. An effective resistance training schedule for beginners consists of two or three days of lifting per week. Always have a minimum of one day in between workouts. The rest is critical because that’s when your muscles actually grow. Aim for 30 minutes per workout at first and slowly progress to 45 to 60 minutes per session after about a month of training.
There’s no right or wrong way to choose the exercises you use for your resistance training, but it’s important that you hit all major muscle groups, which you can do with about five exercises. Stick with these five exercises for the first couple of months: bench press, squats or lunges, deadlifts, seated rows and crunches. There are various machines in the gym that will accomplish these basic exercises. Change up the exercises from time to time to keep the workout from getting boring and to keep your body from getting used to the same routine every time.
Sets, Repetitions, Weight
Don’t overdo it as a beginner; this is a big mistake. Sometimes less is more, and that’s certainly the case for rookie weightlifters. Start by doing three sets of each exercise per workout. Aim for 10 to 12 reps per set. Use enough weight so you start feeling the muscle burn a bit by rep number eight or nine. Consider using very light weights the first week just to get the hang of it and to get the proper technique down pat. As a final tip, always have a partner with you to help ensure your technique is good and to motivate you along the way.
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.