The Basics of Effective Strength Training

wpid-003b0eb1-96e9-4df5-9f59-58f6300911b5.jpgMany people want to start a strength training program but aren’t sure how to do so, or what to do. If you are completely new to strength training, you will want to start out easy. Never push yourself until you’ve done this awhile and know when you can push yourself.

It should be noted that the terms strength training, weight training and resistance training can be used synonymously. It’s generally a personal preference as to the terminology people use.

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Before we get into the basics of strength training, we’ll discuss some of the benefits.

This type of training will help you increase your strength, giving you more physical power, which can help you get through your daily tasks easier and allow you to have more endurance to do things like yard work, hiking, playing with your kids and many other things.

Getting your muscles toned and in shape with strength training will also improve your balance and coordination. It helps increase your balance because you work opposing muscle groups. For example, if your abdominal muscles are strong, but your back muscles are weak, this can affect how well you balance your body, even while standing erect. It can also lead to injury of your back because those muscles are weak.

Working out with strength training can also help you decrease your body fat and lower your risk of certain diseases associated with being overweight. Diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure are related to your weight and overall health putting you at a higher risk of having these problems.

The basics:

Repetitions

Strength training consists of doing sets and reps (or repetitions.) A repetition is the full range of motion you put each muscle group through. A full rep is made up of an eccentric contraction and a concentric contraction. The eccentric contraction of the muscle, which lengthens it and the concentric contraction of the muscle, which shortens it.

For example, with a bicep curl, when your arms are stretched out (or hanging) by your sides this is the eccentric part of the repetition. When you raise the weight so your elbows are bent and your hands are close to your shoulders, this is the concentric portion of the rep.

Some people refer to this at the bottom and top of a rep too. The bottom is the eccentric part, while the concentric part is the top of a rep.

Sets

A set is made up of a number of repetitions. If you decide to do 12 repetitions of bicep curls, that is considered one set. You can do however many of reps you want, whether it’s 8, 10, 12, etc. You have to judge how many reps you can do in proper form.

For example, if you do 8 reps of 3 sets, that is actually 24 times you will go through the motion of lifting the weight. However, you should rest in between sets, but not between reps.

Use proper form to avoid injury

You want to do each rep properly and slowly. If you get sloppy this can indicate that you are trying to lift too much weight or do too many reps at that weight. You will need to adjust either the weight you are lifting or the number of reps you are performing for each set. You want to be in control of the weight. Do not let it dangle or flail around. Doing so can lead to injury and will actually stop you from gaining the benefits of weightlifting.

Results

It’s likely you will not see visible results for awhile. This can be due to the fact that you may have too much body fat and it will need to be decreased before you see the muscle tone underneath. It will also depend on how responsive your muscles are to weight training. Some people can build or tone muscles very quickly, while for others it takes a lot of time and work. Do not get discouraged if you don’t see fast results. The benefits in strength and endurance far outweigh how good you look in a tee-shirt.

Goals

Depending on the goals you’re trying to reach, you will want to devise a strength training plan that fits your needs. If you’re simply wanting to increase your endurance, but not necessarily build muscle, you will use light weights and work on adding more reps per set.

If you want to increase your strength or build muscle, you will use moderate to heavy weights and do fewer reps per set.

Examples:

For endurance you may use a 5 pound dumbbell for bicep curls and do 15 reps for each set. You may gradually increase this to 20 or 25 reps per set.

Eventually you will need to add some weight, maybe move up to a 7 pound dumbbell and back off your reps to 15 again and work up to 20 or 25.

Always remember that any time you increase the weight you are lifting, you need to decrease the reps per set and work your way back up again.

For strength and building muscle you may start with a 10, 15 or 20 pound dumbbell for bicep curls and only do 8 reps per set. You will gradually work up to 10 sets and then 12. At that time you need to increase the weight of your dumbbell and drop your reps back down to 8 again.

This is just the very basics of strength training and terminology. If you want to simply build endurance, have better muscle tone and decrease your risk of weight related diseases, then it’s likely a simple home workout with a few dumbbells is plenty for you.

If you want to go hard core into weight training or bodybuilding, it’s best to join a gym and seek the advice of a personal trainer.

Whatever your goals, always strive to use proper form and never do more than you handle. An injury can put you back for weeks. If you need to see proper techniques, you can visit youtube and find videos uploaded by professionals that will get you started on the right track.

 

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