These tips are something to keep in mind whether you’re totally new to weightlifting or if you consider yourself more advanced.
It is easy to get stuck into your own routine and forget about the little things that might not seem important, but actually really, really matter. Armed with these, you really can’t go wrong with your weight training!
Warm up – as you should before any type of workout. This includes running, HIIT, bodyweight exercises, as well as weighted exercises!
Warming up will help you prevent injury during training, as it activates and prepares the muscles for the workout. It increases the blood flow to the muscles and helps release synovial fluid in the joints, to lubricate them, reducing friction & improving their mobility. It helps you prepare for the workout not only physically, but also mentally!
note: Focus on the muscles, which are going to be used in the workout. If you’re training legs, then it won’t make much sense warming up your shoulders, for example.
Use free weights – I’m in favour of using free weights (dumbbells, barbells, plates, kettlebells) instead of resistance machines, because these allow for more natural movement and make you use your whole body to stabilise, therefore improving your balance, core strength and posture.
Form – Focus on how you execute the exercise. This is the most important part of it! Using correct form will ensure that you avoid injury and also target the right muscles, improving efficiency of the exercise.
If you’re new to this, ask a personal trainer at the gym to show you how to lift weights correctly. Also, use mirrors to watch your form, before you’re fully confident that you can complete the exercises correctly.
Focus on compound exercises – Rather than isolating muscle groups, e.g. biceps or triceps, focus on big moves, such as pull ups, push ups, squats and lunges, which involve multiple muscle groups, not just one. This will make your body burn more calories in the workout session, making the time spent in the gym more efficient.
Sure, you can combine both, compound and isolation exercises, to target specific muscles. However, at the beginning, focus on the compound moves – it’ll challenge and strengthen your whole body, and you won’t have to spend as long in the gym to get the results!
Don’t forget to train your whole body, not just legs & glutes, which girls are mostly prone to do! Get your chest, back and arms involved, so you avoid creating muscle imbalances & poor posture. And guys – for you it’s the other way round – get them legs working!
Lift heavy – ok, heavy is going to be a different weight for everyone. It has to be relative to you! For example – if you’re doing barbell back squats, 12 reps & 4 sets, you have to pick a weight with which you can manage to complete all the 12 reps with great form. But the last couple of reps should feel tough, even if it’s your 1st set! If you feel like you could’ve completed 20 reps, it’s too light, so you have to go heavier.
And please, do not worry about becoming bulky or manly, if you’re a woman. It won’t happen! We have 10x less testosterone than men, hence muscle building is way harder for us. You’ll get stronger, your joints will be better supported and your bones will be stronger too, AND your body composition will change – you’ll become leaner and more toned.
For example, I do barbell back squats with 60kg weight, for 12 reps & 4 sets, and I in no way look like Arnie! And I will be progressing with the weight, the stronger I get!
Be consistent – as with a lot of things in life, consistency is KEY! You have to work out regularly to see results. Hitting the gym just 1x or 2x a week, even if you smash a hardcore workout, is not going to cut it. The more consistent you are, the sooner you’ll see results. Aim to work out around 4 – 5x a week. Of course, you won’t always manage to do so, as life gets in the way and some things ARE a higher priority, but that’s totally ok! Get it done when you can and don’t feel bad when you don’t.
Recover – it is as, if not even more important than the workout itself. Cooldown and stretch after a workout, foamroll, give your body enough time to rest, get enough sleep, hydrate & eat enough nourishing foods. All about that balance!
If you don’t give your body some time off, it won’t have the chance to repair, recover and build muscle, which is what you need to become stronger, fitter and leaner. Plus then you’ll be able to give a 100% in your next workout!
note: It is normal to experience muscle soreness, especially if you’re new to working out, try new exercise or increase the weight you’re lifting. However, you shouldn’t feel any sharp pain or persistent aches. This means you should stop what you’re doing and seek help from a professional, to ensure you don’t cause yourself an injury.
So, are you already using these tips? Or is it something you should really be considering?
Let me know your thoughts and any great tips you have for weightlifters!