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Beginner Strength Training Tips and Exercises

You Asked: How to Get Started With Strength Training?

Cardio is great for your heart and lungs, builds endurance, and burns major calories to reduce overall body fat, but it doesn't do much to sculpt your muscles or prevent injury. That's where strength training and flexibility training come into play, but how do you get started? A FitSugar reader asked this question on Facebook.

Dear Fit,
I have been running consistently since the new year (I actually am following through with a resolution!). I run about three times a week. I'm hoping to incorporate some weight training/resistance/yoga. I know you run and practice yoga. How do you break it down during the week?
— Looking to Tone Up

This is a great question as I'm sure many people want to get stronger, more sculpted muscles, but aren't sure how. To hear what I suggest



First of all, nice work on keeping up with the running since January! Now that you're ready to start incorporating some strengthening and stretching moves into your routine, my best advice is to start off nice and easy. Eventually you should work up to two to three sessions per week, but adding in one session at first is a good way to start. Don't overdo it in the beginning and try to do 50 push-ups on your first day. Your muscles need time to adjust to the new demands you're placing on them, so start off with easy moves and fewer reps to avoid injury and post-workout pain known as DOMS. Being super sore makes many folks stop strength training.

Right now I do cardio about three to four times a week, and after each sweat session, I do strength training and stretching. It breaks down to 30 to 40 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of strength training, and 15 minutes of stretching. I also take two yoga classes per week, usually on days that I don't do cardio. Some people prefer breaking up their cardio and strengthening sessions, so they alternate days. You can break it down in whatever way works for you.

There are several ways you can tone your muscles: with machines, dumbbells, resistance bands, kettlebells, medicine balls, exercise balls, or your own body weight. If you belong to a gym, have one of the employees show you how to safely use the equipment. Or if you're not into hitting the weight room, see if there's a strength training class offered at your gym. You might find it easier to have someone talk you through a toning routine. Plus it's a great way to learn new and effective moves. Last but not least, you can learn some moves from a fitness DVD. Good luck and happy training.

Join The Conversation
SallyElizabeth SallyElizabeth 6 years
Check out the Tracy Anderson Method - I do it twice a week while incorporating my own exercises with free weights. Her exercises focus on accessory muscles - which is a nice change, you'll see what I mean.
snarkypants snarkypants 7 years
i third the p90x love. although i loathe tony horton and want to punch him in the face, the workouts are amazing!
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
I think yoga is a good gateway activity for getting into strength training. It's great since it includes both muscle building and muscle stretching moves. And from there you can easily transition into pilates or general bodyweight exercises.
ticamorena ticamorena 7 years
I've had this same problem, because I must must do cardio everyday, min. 40mins, which is usually rope jumping, followed by 20mins yoga. I want to run outdoors daily now that its hot, and whereas rope jumping has really helped me tone my arms and shoulders, running is not the same. I'm scared I'll lose all the muscletone if I revert to just running, and is 20mins of strength training enough to get results?
ayabeachgirl ayabeachgirl 7 years
I recommend Bar Method, hands down. after 2 months, my abs are tighter, arms are more toned, seats lifted a little bit. I'm a runner too, so I run few miles 3-4 times a week and go to Bar Method (or DVD) 3-4 times as well. personally the BEST combo - i'm so much stronger because of Bar Method, also it helped me run faster on the hill.
Asche Asche 7 years
I discovered yogalates and am in love! I find it SO much more challenging than high level power yoga classes due to the speed of the class and am seeing amazing results! My body is more toned and conditioned than it has ever been!
tlsgirl tlsgirl 7 years
I've really liked having DVDs that incorporate strength training moves, since then I can do them at the gym using free weights without feeling self conscious over my form.
Susmita Susmita 7 years
The thing with yoga is that you can do it every day! In fact, that's the best way to do it, if you can find the time (even ten minutes).
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