Aside from toned and sculpted muscles, strength training can also make you a better runner, cyclist, or swimmer. Increasing your muscle mass also increases your metabolism since muscles burn calories at a higher rate than fat. These are all great reasons to include strength training in your routine. If you're new to the scene, here are some helpful tips for beginners.
- Start off nice and easy: You may have a goal of doing 50 push-ups or five pull-ups, but building your strength takes time. At first, start with lighter weights and less reps, and gradually increase as your body is ready.
- Learn proper form: When starting out, it's important to learn proper form, which ensures that the exercises you're doing are effective while also preventing injuries. To do this, it's best to set up a few sessions with a personal trainer; aside from proper form, they'll also personalize your routine and show you moves to specifically target your weak areas.
- There's more to strength training than dumbbells: Hand weights are inexpensive and easy to use and can strengthen every part of your body, but you'll get more out of your session (and prevent boredom) by mixing up your fitness equipment. Take advantage of your gym and use the machines, resistance bands, exercise balls, medicine balls, kettlebells, battle ropes, and TRX training system — whatever they have. Also peruse the class schedule and try out classes with name like Body Pump, Body Blitz, Cardio Sculpt and anything else specifically designed to tone and define muscles.
- Don't just target your trouble spots: If you have a little junk in your trunk, it makes sense to want to devote your time to squats and lunges, but when strength training, it's important to target all your major muscle groups, even the ones you don't feel need attention. Constantly working a few areas will create muscular imbalances in your body, which can result in muscle strains or injuries. It's OK to focus on your butt and thighs for one workout, but the next time you strength train, do moves that target your arms and upper back, then the next day work your core. If breaking up your workouts by body part seems confusing, follow a routine that works your entire body each time you hit the gym.
- Mix up your routine: Once you learn a few signature moves, you want to keep your muscles guessing by doing your workout in a different order each time. As you learn new moves, start incorporating them for even more variety.
Need some ideas? Here are five strength training workouts to try:
- Full-Body Circuit Workout With Weights: you'll need a set of dumbbells for this workout
- FitSugar Circuit Workout: these moves require no equipment at all
- Glutes and Hamstring Workout: you'll need a set of dumbbells, an exercise ball, and a resistance band for this lower-body workout
- Core Exercises For Runners: target your midsection with these five dynamic moves
- Arm Plan: basic yet effective moves to target your arms and upper back