Are you hoping to get a healthier start this new year? If you want to feel stronger you are likely considering a weight training program but might be a little hesitant about getting started. While starting a new type of exercise can be intimidating, it can also be rewarding. Strength training has been shown to improve blood pressure and glucose levels, decrease osteoporosis risk, decrease fall risk and improve sleep.
Here are a few tips for getting started.
Seek consultation from a professional
If you have never lifted weights or done resistance training your best bet is to seek a couple of training sessions from a personal trainer or physical therapist to assure you have proper form and are doing the right level of exercise. Working below your level will not produce results and exercising with poor form will likely cause injury.
Start new movements with body weight or only very light weights. Mastering a new movement pattern before adding a load is important. Once your body masters the movement, you will frequently see gains in the first 2 weeks in how much you can lift as your muscles and nervous system adapt. After the initial gain of the first 2-3 weeks, progress will generally slow down as you begin to rely on actually growing the size of the muscle to produce strength gains.
Pulley based machines (nautilus type equipment) tend to be an easier place to start than free-weights.
Pulley machines provide extra assistance to stabilize most of your body, so you only need to focus on the area you are moving. This provides the advantage of more isolated muscle work but requires less core activation and coordination. This is a great thing if you are a beginner. As you progress you may want to consider adding free weights that force you to be a little more aware of your posture.
Remember: Weight Training should not cause Pain!
As you start working out, you may experience burning and muscle fatigue during and after exercise, but you should not experience pain. Be sure to give your muscles time to recover between exercise sessions to avoid too much stress on your muscles. If you do experience pain during your workout, stop the activity causing pain. Consult with a professional for exercise modifications. You should also consider an evaluation with a Physical Therapist who can evaluate your movement and determing the cause of the pain. Once the cause of the pain is determined, they can help teach you to modify your movements and improve the pain to help get you back to your exercise program!