Strength training is an important part of an overall exercise program. It makes you stronger, helps your endurance, improves your balance and helps burn excess fat. Here are the best strength training workout tips we could find, tips to help you get started with a strength training program and keep it going over the long run.
• Exercise all muscle groups. You may have seen the movie, “Lady in the Water,” where one character exercised only one side of his body? He looked very off balance—which is what happens when you don’t exercise all your muscles. You are unbalanced and that can lead to injuries. You don’t have to do it all on one day, but over the course of a week, make sure you exercise all muscle groups equally.
• Exercise larger muscles first, then smaller ones. The larger muscles take more energy to work, so you want to work them at the beginning, when you are fresh.
• Warm up before doing strength training. Warm muscles are less prone to injury and they perform better. Do 10-15 minutes of a cardio warm-up (treadmill or stationary bike, for instance) before beginning strength training. Then warm each muscle set up by performing a set of exercises with little or no resistance before adding any weight.
• Stretch after your workout. Recent studies show that stretching before a workout can decrease your performance because it forces the muscles to relax, which weakens them temporarily. After your workout, the muscles are warm, and stretching them out helps them recover.
• Stand tall. Keep your posture straight and your abs contracted while exercising, and use good body mechanics.
• Use proper form. Make sure you are doing each exercise correctly, using good form. If you are unsure about how an exercise should be done, check with a trainer. Most injuries are caused by incorrect technique.
• Begin low. When you are starting out, your tendency is to use too much resistance or weight. The best weight or resistance for strength training is the one that allows you to do 8-10 reps of an exercise.
• As you gain strength, increase reps first. This helps build muscle endurance as well as strength. When you can consistently do 10-12 reps of an exercise, using perfect technique, increase the weight a little bit.
• Rest is essential. Strength training causes microtrauma to the muscles; healing this microtrauma is what builds muscle tissue and strength. It takes 24-48 hours after a workout for the healing to be complete, so it’s important to rest each muscle group for 24-48 hours between workouts.
• No pain. Period. Pain during a workout is a sign that you are using incorrect technique, that you have some prior injury or that you are overtraining. Pain after a workout is a sign of overtraining. It is normal to have some mild soreness for 24-48 hours after your first few workouts, but pain that is more severe, that persists past 24 hours or that continues as you get stronger suggests that you may have an overtraining injury.
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