Want to start weight training? Read this.
No disrespect to all the cardio bunnies out there (a 7am spin class is one of my favourite ways to start the day) but no amount of pavement pounding or cross training will burn fat and create a lean and toned body as effectively as strength training.
But it's a big, bad world out there and the weights section of the gym can be an intimidating one - so check out our 3 minute guide about beginning to lift weights.
Dont be scared
It sounds obvious, but don't allow the grunting guy on the bench press keep you away from the weights area. Knowledge is power, so find a member of the gym staff to talk you through the equipment.
Get a Personal Trainer
If you can afford it, book a couple of sessions with a PT - they can help you with the basics of lifting weights and give you the best exercise in order to hit your goals. Most gyms and PTs will offer a session or two for free to test it out and it may be all you need to get comfortable in the weights area.
Before you start lifting weights of Arnie proportions, start light and work on your technique and form. This is so important to make sure you are performing the moves correctly which will reduce the chance of injury. (Tip - look in the mirror whilst lifting)
Start with compound movements
Compound movements are those that work multiple, big muscle groups. Think squats, deadlifts, lunges, raises, bench press and rows.
Then introduce isolation movements
These target smaller, individual muscle groups (Tip - due to the emphasis placed upon a single muscle, you'll find that you'll really notice even small weight increases, so don't try to rack up the weight too quickly)
Get a gym buddyThey can help you perfect your technique, spot you and help you grit your teeth when the going gets tough (and let's face it, who doesn't want their own cheerleader?)
Listen to your body
If you feel an unfamiliar pain, then stop. Better safe than sorry.
Split 'em upSplit your training days into body parts - don't try and hit full body every day. Workout different muscle groups on different days. This will ensure that you're working to your maximum potential and giving yourself plenty of time to recover. A common split is legs, back and biceps and chest and triceps
If you're strength training to lose weight then ditch the scales. You'll find a much more accurate representation of your physical progress by taking progress pictures every week and body measurements. Weight training is a marathon, not a sprint, so if you're someone who is motivated by results then keep a record of what weight and reps you complete every session and try to increase it week by week.
When you're weight training, you're actually breaking down muscle tissue in order to build nice new ones! That's why it's so important to take rest days and allow your body time to repair and rejuvenate itself.
Go kill it!