Here’s what you need to know. In the beginning stages of learning a weight training routine, it’s necessary to take 3-4 weeks to learn proper technique while keeping the weights light. Think of this process as setting the stage for smart progressive strength gains, muscle tone, and muscle density. Skipping these two factors of proper technique and light weight in the initial stage increases injury occurrence which is the number one reason people stop training. Don’t let this be you. Keep the weight light enough that you can practice good form without any struggle. The temptation to increase the weight amount will be looming, but realize it is the tendons and ligaments of the body that really need sensible conditioning in these opening weeks. Be patient. Be Smart.
To Hire a Trainer or Not ?
If there was ever a time to hire a trainer it’s in the opening weeks of a weight training routine. A good trainer will show you what machines to use, how to set them up, and what weight to start with. But a really good trainer will help you in those opening weeks to make sense of a routine suitable for you. This should involve asking you many questions about your lifestyle, such as how much time you can commit to exercise, what type of job you have, injuries in the past, health status, motivation levels, reasons for initiating a strength program and other pertinent information that can help him or her put you on a plan that is suited for you and you’ll likely implement consistently. Additionally, a really good trainer will add perspective on how best to adhere to a program and will transition you through various aspects of learning to strength train. He or she is well worth the money as making sense of the implementation of a strength routine is paramount when considering that most people do not continue a strengthening program for longer than a few weeks once begun.
Going It Alone?
If you need to begin a strength program on your own, most gyms have attendants or personal trainers that can show you how to use the machines initially. There should be no cost for them to show you how to set up each machine. If you never strength trained before in your life, and will training on your own, have the gym’s attendant or preferably personal trainer show you these five exercises.
Getting Started On Your Own
- Leg Press– press through the heels and keep head back
- Lattisimus Dorsi Pull Down-keep chest upright throughout and lean slightly back
- Chest Press– keep head back and engage chest muscles to press
- Seated Shoulder Press with dumbells – back supported and palms facing in
- Standing Bicep Curl Against Wall- knees slightly bent and stand against wall for support
Repetitions and Sets
Practice 15 repetitions of each exercise in the order as described above. Repeat this cycle one more time. Practice slowly and deliberately and use a light enough weight that 15 repetitions is not a strain.
Practice this routine 2-3 times a week for the first three weeks preferably having a day or two off in-between. You should increase the weights by no more than 15% each week. Remember, your goal in the opening weeks is to practice good form and allow your tendons and ligaments to get adjusted to the increased workload to come.
When you leave the gym you should feel like you could easily continued doing more. Don’t be tempted to increase your weights, repetitions or sets. This is a mistake that will ultimately increase the likelihood that you dread going into the gym your next session. We are not just training our bodies, but we are also training our minds. It’s a process of adjustment and by honoring this you’ll increase the likelihood of making strength training a life long habit.
Look for part II of this series on smartly beginning a weight training routine for strength and increased muscle tone.
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