Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Adding Strength Training To Your Fitness Routine

This week we are focusing on a few beginner-type resources for those new to an exercise program. If you're out of shape and haven't worked out in a while, it is important to ease back into it at a pace gentle enough to prevent injury (and getting discouraged), but consistent enough to really start making exercise a habit you enjoy. It's also important to add strength training into your routine.

Strength training offers a number of significant benefits. It helps your bones and muscles stay strong. It prevents disease and helps you develop better body mechanics. Muscles look sexy too. However, the most important reason to add strength training to your fitness routine may be because it helps you lose more weight.

Strength Training Circuit-2
Strength Training Circuit-2 (Photo credit: Phil Manker)
At the Gym Or At Home?

The first question to answer is do you want to go to the gym or work out at home? If you’re using weights, it is recommended that you first make sure you’re lifting them properly. Improper form can cause serious damage and injury. But you don’t have to use weights to strength train. You can use the weight of your body and objects around the house as well.

Split Routine

The next step is to create a strength training plan. Ideally, you’re adding it to an existing routine. That means you’ll want to break up your strength training into smaller segments. For example one day you can work on your upper body. The next day you can focus on your lower body. You might spend another day targeting your core muscles.

Finding Exercises

Most people already know the basics. You’re familiar with a push up and a sit up. These are strength training exercises that you can begin with at home. However, you’ll probably advance beyond these basics pretty quickly. There are many videos, DVDs, and books you can use to help you create your exercise training plan.

Circuit strength training
Circuit strength training (Photo credit: Kizzlexy)
If you’re planning on heading to the gym to use the weights or buying weights for home use, be sure to get a quick education on how to use the machines and proper form. Working out with the proper form will help you get faster and better results. It also helps prevent injury.

Start Small

It’s okay to start small, especially when you’re adding a new fitness program or routine. Consider ending your workout with five minutes of strength training. Experts recommend strength training after your muscles are warmed up. You may want to walk for a few minutes before you train.

Additionally, you’ll probably start with your body weight or with light weights. Experts recommend being able to do eight to ten repetitions and three sets. If you can’t complete the sets then you may be using too much weight. As your strength increases so too will your confidence. You’ll begin to see your body change, and you'll also begin enjoying your newfound sense of strength and fitness - it's a great thing!

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