Getting the weights out is a good way to get yourself active and build up a bit of muscle. However, it’s not as simple as just lifting a couple of weights up and down.
There are probably a few things you should know before you get serious about your weight lifting. Here’s a few bits of information and tips I’ve put together, all gathered over time from extensive research and personal experience.
What is weight training?
In a nutshell – weight training is a type of exercise which focuses on training strength through resistance. Using weights causes resistance, which puts the muscles under stress and in, doing so prompts your muscles to adapt, get stronger, bigger and more defined. Weight training fitness programmes often use free weights and weight machines to achieve these results, although home-alternatives like resistance bands and body-weight training are also popular and effective methods of strength training.
Why should I weight train?
In the same way that cardio helps strengthen your heart, weight training strengthens your muscles and builds lean muscle. Muscle is regarded as ‘metabolically active tissue’, tissue fibre which burns carbohydrates and body fat and converts them into energy. So, science says that the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn over the course of the day and consequently, the leaner and more in-shape you will be. This makes weight-training an essential if you want too bulk up, burn fat and get lean.
If you’re already on the Weight Training wagon or fancy starting out with some strength training exercises for stronger muscles, the Man Wants guide to weight training will help you on your way and keep you on course. Our top 10 tips for weight training, identifies the common mistakes that most-gym goers make and will help you consider any bad habits that need refining for better, long-term results.
Always think about how you can warm up your muscles and get them ready for action before you start lifting. A few light, dynamic stretches like shoulder/arm circles, tricep extensions and bicep warm-ups will help activate your muscles, get the blood flowing and prep them for work-out.
Staying hydrated is crucial to achieving a good, healthy work-out. We’ve previously discussed that the average person should drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Muscle is made up of 75% water, so it essential that you’re restoring your bodies water during and following a work-out. If you’re dehydrated you will slow down complete recovery time and have less, overall endurance – which means less reps, less strength and less results.
Many body-builders work on this simple equation to make sure that they’re getting their h20 allowance.
Min. Amount of Water per Day in Oz. = Body weight in lbs. x 0.66
Perfect your Posture
The key to gaining results and resisting injury is perfecting your posture when lifting weights. Your posture is the ultimate indicator to your own performance and the correct body position will help you generate better results, faster. It is recommended that for a standing or sitting position, you should always exercise with shoulders back, chest out and abs tight. Also, note that you should never hunch your back or arch your back when doing dumbbell rows and overhead presses.
If you’re new to weight training, make sure you choose weights to lift that aren’t too heavy. Lifting weights that are too heavy, will be counte-productive, as they won’t only cause potential injury but you will rely more on the momentum of lifting them, than developing actual strength. The amount of weight you should be lifting relies on the amount of reps you can do. Beginner strength training programmes often suggest 5 sets of 5 reps. Start off light and add anywhere between 2.5lbs to 10lbs to the bar to increase weight to a point that’s manageable.
Remember to Rest
Weight training has more variables than just weights and reps. Rest is an important part of strength training and rest between sets is imperative for good results. Rest time between sets can range from 25 seconds to 4 minutes, dependant on results and reps. Make sure you research Muscular endurance, Muscular hypertrophy, Muscular strength and Muscular power to find out more about the necessary rest time for the results you’re after.
In our, weight control section, we talked about choosing the right weight to suit you and avoid injury. However, if you’ve been lifting the same weights with ease for a while now, it’s time to up your game. Your muscles need to adapt as a reaction the resistance you’re putting on them and if they’ve already adapted to a certain level of resistance, you need to challenge them again. Up your weights or try out a fresh weight training programme to keep developing your strength.
It might sound obvious, but it’s a common mistake. When we’re lifting heavy weights we can have a tendancy to hold our breath. Exhale through your mouth as you lift the weight and inhale through your nose and you drop it. This will help oxygen get to your msucles and increase endurance.
Know your Muscle Groups
If you want those muscles to get stronger as part of a weight training programme, you need to do a little research on your specific muscle groups. Weight training often requires up to 48 hours of rest and you should never train the same muscles two days in a row. To get around this, work your full-body or some targeted areas by just training the muscle groups which work in accordance with each other.
Look at some weight training exercises, that train these muscle groups together:
The chest, shoulders and triceps
The back and biceps
Hamstrings, calves and glutes
Slow and Steady
Weight Training is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You might feel like you want to rush through your reps but it’s never worth it. Speeding up your set, doesn’t allow for your muscles to properly expand and contract and will limit results. Plus – it’s almost impossible to hold good form at speed. Slow it down and do yourself justice.
Exercise Strength not Momentum
Weight lifting is about using and building your strength, so don’t cheat yourself by relying on momentum. Never swing weights and make sure you isolate your muscles by keeping your shoulders in line above your hips and referring to your posture and form.
If you have any other tips for weight training work-outs and muscle building, feel free to comment. Plus! If you’re interested in foods that can help you on your way to getting hench, check out our muscle building protein foods article for some serious food-prep inspiration.