Are you considering strength training but not sure how to go about it? Hitting the gym, facing the buff bodies, and learning your way around complicated equipment can be intimidating, especially if you are a beginner. Moreover, picking up a weight when you have back or joint aches might prove daunting. And then there is the issue of being in form, without which you risk harming yourself when striving to gain more muscle.
According to experts, your safest bet when starting is training under the guidance of a qualified fitness trainer. You can opt to work with the gym’s instructor or hire a personal trainer. Overall, the trainer can provide the necessary guidance depending on your goals and limitations on hand to help and motivate you with each exercise.
Instances of people sustaining knee, shoulder, back, or wrist injuries are not uncommon because they jump into an exercise like doing a squat, lunge, or deadlift without taking the time to learn how to execute them correctly. Hence, health experts recommend learning to exercise safely by reading fitness and health books or online content like blogs and videos.
It is best to start with a solid technique instead of jumping straight into heavy lifting. You then can increase the weight in progression for resistance without straining your muscles. Allow your body to inform you how much weight, start with the minimal amount. You might be quick to downplay those five pounds, but they have a significant impact and are a safer bet when starting.
How much should you work out to build muscle strength?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that beginners limit their gym sessions to two days a week. The workouts should consist of 8 to 10 different exercises that target all major muscle groups in 8 to 12 repetitions. The weekly sessions target the arms, shoulders, legs, chest, back, and abdominals.
Machines or Free Weights?
Pro bodybuilders use free weights and weight machines intermittently, saying they cannot say one is superior to the other. Therefore, deciding which is best for you will be a personal preference.
On the one hand, machines are excellent when you feel out of form or are overweight. Often, you will exercise using these machines when seated, and they provide ample back support. On the other hand, machines are not cheap. It is best to consider light dumbbells and resistance tubing, which will cost you a few dollars, but you will have what you need to start toning your muscles as you aim at the heavier weights at the gym.
Start with the basic moves as you work your way to the more demanding routines. For instance, you can consider the following exercises for building muscles in your arms and upper body:
- Bicep curls
- Chest presses
- Overhead presses for the shoulders
- Reverse flies for the back
- Triceps kickbacks or extensions
Avoid jumping straight into lunges and squats when exercising your lower body; they significantly impact your weak joints. It is best to start with routing like:
- Standing or side-lying leg lifts for the inner and outer thighs
- Quadriceps Hamstrings curl, working the back of the thighs
- Extensions targeting the front of the thighs
Lastly, do not forget your abdominal and lower back area (your core). Strengthening your core muscles increases stability and reduces the risk of injury.