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Weight Training Tips for Beginners

Weight Training Tips for Beginners

By DFR staff member Julie Chapman

Here are our top six basic weight training tips for beginners, especially those who are weight training at home. These tips will set you on the right track and help you to get the best out of your weight training sessions, whether you’re using hand weights, bar bells, dumbbells, medicine balls or tins of beans.

1 – Warm Up

Five or ten minutes of anything that gets your heart pumping and literally warms you up. Try to move all parts of your body – if you’re marching on the spot to get going, pump and swing your arms. Dancing to some good music is a great way to warm up, and has the added benefit of putting you in a good mood.

2 – Be Smooth

Aim for smooth, flowing, continuous movement when using weights. Fast, jerky or uneven movements will put unnecessary strain on your muscles and could result in injury.

3 – Breathe Freely

Don’t hold your breath. Your muscles need a constant supply of oxygenated blood, by denying them that you risk broken blood vessels or even a hernia. It doesn’t really matter at which point of an exercise you breathe in or out, the important thing is to breathe freely throughout the exercise.

4 - Focus

To ensure you are working your muscles in the most effective way it is important to focus on what you’re doing. If your mind is elsewhere it’s easy to fall into bad form or forget to count repetitions. One set done properly when you’re paying attention, will be more beneficial than two sets when you’re not.

5 – Choose the right weight

You should choose a weight that you are comfortable with, but that will work the muscles i.e. you should be able to feel the muscle working, but not so heavy you have difficulty lifting it smoothly. General rule: use a weight that tires the muscle(s) out within 8-12 repetitions.

6 – Do One Set – Slowly

Unless you are a serious body builder, you don’t have to do multiple sets of each exercise to get good results. In fact research has shown that, for most people, optimum benefit from weight training can be gained with just one set of 8-12 repetitions of each exercise, done slowly, with correct form.

7 – Balance your weight training workout

Work all your major muscles and muscle groups — abdominals, legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms. Exercise opposing muscles in a balanced way — for example, front of legs as well as back of legs.

8 – Rest and Recover

Your muscles need 48 hours to recover after a weight training workout. During this period the muscle development you are training for takes place – each time you work them out your muscles should come back that bit stronger. You need to allow the time for this muscle recovery and should leave at least 48 hours after working a muscle before you work it again.

9 – Don’t Overdo It!

Don’t get carried away during your first session and do lots of reps with heavy weights. This is especially important for beginners who have no experience of weight training – you could end up very sore! Use your initial sessions to practice getting your form right with fairly light weights. Once you’ve mastered the moves you can move on to heavier weights.

10 – Get a Book

Get a good weight training book, one that has good photographs and descriptions of the exercises, and that also explains the physiology of weight training. The better your understanding of what’s going on, the more you’ll get from your weight training. For beginners I’d recommend our Strength Training for Women Book or Build Your Muscles DVD.