Getting the best from strength training
Like any sport or activity,
strength training has tricks to learn and
techniques to master. Strength training can involve using weights or your
own body weight to challenge and build muscle. Get ready to tighten up all the
leftover flab, if you want to look good in your
bathing suit this summer.
Here's are some tips to help you get the most from your strength
Know the lingo.
The words rep
set are the jargon of gym
junkies. We will decode them for you. One rep, or repetition,
describes one complete exercise. So one
pushup, for example, would be one
rep.A set is just that - a set of repetitions.Do two sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise.
with 8 repetitions in each set.When you can easily do 12, you can add a
little more weight.
Work out between meals.
Right after eating a Thanksgiving feast
is not the best time to pick up a pair of dumbbells.If your stomach is
really full, you're going to feel uncomfortable.It is
also unwise to work out when you haven't eaten for several hours.If
you're starving, you may get light-headed, To be at your best,
try to work out midway between meals or have a light meal or snack an hour or so
We're not talking about drinking cocoa by a toasty
your muscles for 5 to 10 minutes so that you
don't go directly from sitting in front of the TV to lifting 12-pound weights
over your head.Muscles much prefer being eased into exercise.To
warm up, you can take a brisk walk, do jumping jacks, march or jog in place, or
do toning exercises for 5 to 10 reps without weights.If you do an
workout in addition to resistance training,you can do the
aerobics first, in place of a warm-up.
Pick the right weight.
If you lift weights that are too heavy,
you could hurt yourself. On the other hand, lifting weights that are too
light won't do much to firm your flab.Here's a good rule of thumb:
If you can't lift the weight in good form 8 times, then it's too heavy, but if you can easily lift the weight more than 12 times,
it's too light.
Lift with a friend.
Beginners may want to find a weight
buddy. That person serves three purposes.First, she can lend a
hand if you tire and struggle through that last repetition.Second, she
can watch to make sure that you are using good form.And third, she can
offer the encouragement that first-time lifters often need.
Don't wait to exhale.
Strange as it may sound, weight lifters
literally hold their breath, which can cause their
blood pressures to spike.The proper way to breathe,is to exhale on the exertion - when
the weight or
crunch - and inhale as you lower the weight or
return to the starting position.
Tame the tension.
When we contract one muscle, we have a
tendency to tense the others as well. But during strength training, only
the muscles you're working should contract. Some common trouble spots to check: Make sure
that you're not clenching your teeth, furrowing your brow, or tensing your
shoulders up around your ears.
Take it slow.
Fast, herky-jerky movements can cause injury.
They can also cause injury. They can also cause you to use momentum,
rather than muscle, to lift weight.Slow, controlled movements, on the
other hand, are safer and take more effort - so you get more benefit .Each repetition should take about 6 seconds: 2 seconds to lift the
weight, a 2-second pause, and then another 2 seconds to lower the weight.
Perfect your form.
Good form - doing an exercise in exactly the
right way - helps you get the most benefit from lifting and prevents injury. An easy way to watch your lifting form is to position yourself
in front of a full-length mirror. Make sure that your wrists are straight,
not bent backward or forward.And be sure that you are doing the exercise
precisely as it is shown.
Pay attention to posture.
Whether you're sitting or standing
when you lift dumbbells, keep your back, neck, and head straight to
muscle strain and injury. And good posture doesn't mean standing stiff.
Stand tall but relaxed. If you're seated to do the
exercise, sit up
straight with your feet flat on the floor.
Be kind to your joints.
Avoid locking your elbows or knees when
lifting weights. Anytime you lock a joint, the joint bears the stress of
the weight, not the muscle. To prevent
joint pain, end the
move just short of locking your knees or elbows
Break between sets.
Take a 1- to 2- minute break after
completing each set to give your muscles a chance to recuperate and prepare for
the next set. To save time, you can do an exercise that works
another muscle group. For example, try alternating between leg and arm
Finish with flexibility.
The ideal time to
stretch is after your
workout, when your muscles are warmed up. Lifting weights actually
contracts and shortens your muscles, making them less
stretching after lifting restores muscle length and keeps them supple, which
prevents injury in the long run. When you're inflexible, you're much more
prone to injury, because instead of your muscles being elastic and allowing some
give, they're quite tight.
Take a day off.
Your muscles need at least a day to rest in
between resistance - training sessions. It's actually during that time
that your muscles get stronger. That's because lifting weights causes
tiny tears in the muscle tissue.As your muscles repair that damage,
they become stronger.
Work through soreness.
You're probably going to feel a little
sore for the first few weeks after starting a new
Only when the soreness subsides should you increase the amount of weight
you're lifting, and then add no more than a pound per session. If the
soreness is significant, so that even everyday movement is painful, you may
need to decrease the weight.
Mix up your routine.
After lifting weights consistently for a
few weeks or months, you may hit a
plateau.That's when you find that
you can't seem to progress to the next level with heavier weights.This
is a sign that your muscles have become used to your workout and need a new
challenge to grow further. When you hit a plateau, try changing something in
your routine. Alter the exercise slightly, try a completely different exercise to work the
same muscle, or lift and lower the weight even more slowly. or example,
take 4 seconds to lift the weight, a 2-second pause, and then 4 seconds to lower
Pay attention to pain.
Pain may be a sign that a muscle, tendon,
or joint has been overworked or
strained. If something doesn't feel
right, don't keep training it. Rest a few days before
trying your routine again.
to maximize results your training must reflect the demands. If you are weight
lifting to manage your weight, slow the aging process and achieve your ideal
form, then you need to do more and know much more than to just buy that "one
piece of weight lifting equipment that will do it all."
Proper weight training requires specific techniques to achieve the most benefit
in the time that you have allotted. If you begin strength training and using
weight lifting equipment without proper guidance, your efforts may very well be