Many people are hesitant to enter the world of weight lifting. Some shy away over the prevailing thought that they could get hurt and others worry about regular gym-goers being judgmental. If you fall into any of these categories, there are ways you can gain the confidence you need to hit the weights. Here's a guide to weight training for beginners.
There are numerous fitness magazines and blogs dedicated to weight training for beginners. Some suggest different exercises and lifts to undertake, whereas others provide a full routine. While that's all well and good, these articles don't consider the different needs, desires, knowledge, and physical makeup across the spectrum of beginners. So consider the following step-by-step guide if you're a beginner, which takes a different approach to the process.
- Step 1: Be Goal Driven. Don't just lift to lift; come up with a set of healthy fitness goals with your doctor -- perhaps you want to strengthen your core to golf better or you want to lose weight. While common training goals include improving overall strength and cardiovascular endurance, don't be shy to develop more specific goals tailored to your needs and wants. For example, improving the strength and flexibility of your hamstring could potentially limit injuring your aching knee.
- Step 2: Educate Yourself. Once you've determined your fitness goals that can be achieved through lifting, educate yourself on general musculoskeletal anatomy so you have a better understanding of muscle actions and what you need to do to strengthen them or improve flexibility.
- Step 3: Keep Learning. To limit injury and optimize your gains, you should perform exercises with the proper technique. Take a weight lifting class or ask for advice from a personal trainer. There are also endless videos available online that help teach proper form.
- Step 4: Always Practice. Once you've been instructed on proper technique, start practicing each lift without any weight at all. You can gradually increase the amount you lift once you're sure you have the technique down.
- Step 5: Remain Focused. Even after you've successfully implemented the above steps, sweating it out with an audience of fellow gym-goers can be daunting. If you're worried about onlookers, keep in mind that most people are so consumed with themselves while working out that they won't be paying much attention to what you can or can't do. Focus on what's important: your technique, goals, and attitude.
Contrary to popular belief, diagnosed injury rates and patterns for weight lifting are actually quite similar to other sports and activities. The cause of injury, however, appears different. Whereas other sports may have a higher incidence of traumatic injury, the injuries sustained in weight lifting appear to stem more from overuse.
One very simple method of preventing an overuse injury is to always use proper form, even if that means limiting the amount of weight you're lifting. Moreover, it's imperative that you listen to your body. If you suspect a strain or any other injury, you should rest instead of trying to push through it, and if need be, seek the advice of a health care professional.
Of course, you shouldn't wait until you suspect an injury to seek counsel from a health care provider. Take a proactive approach and ask for advice prior to implementing a weight lifting program into your workout routine. Once you're medically cleared, keep these tips in mind and have fun hitting the weights.