Whether you just worked out for the first time last week or have been working out for years, there has probably come a time when you thought to yourself, "I want to lift weights, but how do I know I'm ready?" As an NASM certified trainer, I can tell you that the "I'm ready to lift weights moment" will occur at different times for everyone, but here are a few things that can help guide your decision to begin lifting weights.
Your Bodyweight Workouts Feel Too Easy
It's true that you've got to start somewhere when it comes to getting in shape, and training with just your body is a great place to start. If you've been doing bodyweight workouts for quite some time and no longer feel sore or challenged by your workouts, that's a good indicator you need to switch up your programming. The transition from bodyweight workouts to weightlifting should be fairly easy, given you've learned the proper movement patterns. During your initial few weeks, you may notice that you are more sore, but your body will adapt to working with resistance. To begin, we recommend doing three days of weightlifting a week, beginning with three sets of 10-15 reps per exercise. Be sure to give each muscle group enough rest in between sessions before training them again.
You Aren't Satisfied With Your Results
If a majority of your workouts are cardio based, and you aren't satisfied with your results, you should begin to incorporate strength training into your routine in order to lose weight and get toned. Research has found that lifting weights will increase your bone and lean muscle mass and improve your strength and cardiovascular fitness. Begin with a minimum of two strength sessions per week, doing three to four sets of 12 to 15 reps of compound movements (movements that recruit more groups of large muscle mass) to complement your cardio workouts.
You Want to Build More Muscle
It is possible to get muscle without ever picking up a weight, but depending on your body makeup it may be hard to retain that muscle mass. If you're looking to put on more lean muscle, you guessed it: you have to lift weights. When you lift weights, you're causing micro-tears in the muscle fibers. As your body repairs, your muscles adapt to the load (the amount of weight you're lifting), and you get stronger. If your goal is to build more muscle, begin with a minimum of three strength sessions a week, doing three to five sets of six to 12 reps. You'll more than likely need to increase the amount of food you eat once you begin weightlifting, but discuss this with a certified trainer and/or doctor.