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Basic Strength-Training Guide

New to Strength Training? What You Need to Know

You know you want to bounce quarters off your butt, but you've never done a squat in your life. Here's a basic strength-training guide to help get you started.

How to prevent injury: To avoid pulls or strains, meet with a personal trainer or gym staff member to learn proper form. Be sure to warm up before strength training — it's good practice to get in your cardio session first and then move on to strengthening. Always listen to your body, don't let your competitive nature push you too hard, and stop as soon as you feel any pain or your muscles are too tired to do the moves correctly.

How much: Whether you're using dumbbells, a machine, kettlebells, medicine balls, or a resistance band, you don't have to choose the lowest weight when starting. Choose a weight that is hard enough to make you feel like you're working, but not heavy enough to disrupt proper form. You'll know it's the correct amount when your muscles fatigue after about 12 reps. For moves that require no equipment, do as many reps as you can correctly. Be sure to change up the weights depending on the exercise you're doing and the ability of the muscles being worked. You might be able to use eight-pound dumbbells for bicep curls but have to reach for five-pounders for triceps kickbacks.


How often: When you're first starting out, as with any type of exercise, you don't want to overdo it. Begin with sessions two to three days a week, taking rest days after each workout in order to allow your muscles to heal and strengthen. Save time by doing multitasking moves that work more than one part of the body at a time. For example, when doing squats or lunges, hold dumbbells or a resistance band and do overhead presses. Gradually add more sessions per week, but when strength training consecutive days, switch up your routine, focusing on arms and core one day and legs and butt the following day to avoid straining a muscle.

Learn the moves and workouts you should be doing after the break!

What moves: It's important to include exercises that target all the areas of the body to avoid muscular imbalances. Here are six basic moves every newbie should know. Once you master your form, give these workouts a try:

10 Ways to Tone the Inner Thighs
Full-Body Circuit With Weights
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Tone Your Entire Body With the Plank
20 Ways to Work Your Abs Without Crunches

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