When it comes to the different types of training you can incorporate into your workout routine, strength training should be a part of it in some capacity, due to all the great things it can do for your health. You might enjoy cardio or yoga, but strength training can help you control your weight, reduce the risk of fractures with stronger bones, improve your muscle as it naturally decreases as you age, and find balance and flexibility to avoid injury. To get started, here is your complete guide to strength training.
Strength training gives you a lot of freedom in terms of the goals you might want to accomplish. Workout goals are always important to define very early on as your routine takes shape. With strength training, you can try to gain muscle, lose fat, or improve your endurance and strength. There is a common misconception that doing strength training will make you bulky, but that’s not the case if you aren’t striving for it. In fact, building muscle helps burn fat and is instrumental in losing weight and achieving a lean physique.
Once you decide on the route you want to take for your strength training routine, you will then need to determine what kind of rep and set structure you want to adopt because this will vary. If you are trying to gain muscle, then find a weight that allows you to complete anywhere from 4 to 10 repetitions for at least 3 sets. If you are trying to lose weight and build muscle, your reps should fall between 8 to 12 for 1 to 3 sets. If you are trying to improve your muscle endurance, then you should go at a higher rep count of 12 to 16 for 1 to 3 sets. As you work through the structure you choose, make sure you only give yourself 30 seconds to a minute of rest to get the most out of the lift.
One of the best parts about strength training is that you have no shortage of exercises to choose from. The most important exercises you will want to include in your workout plan are known as the “big three,” which are bench presses, squats, and deadlifts. However, there are several other body parts you should work using both compound and isolated movements. Throughout the week, make sure you are targeting these different body parts with the following exercises:
To have as many options as possible for strength training, make sure you have the right equipment for your needs. If you are looking to exercise with minimal impact, go with machines. At Precor Home Fitness, you can find all the strength training equipment you could need with some great options for your home gym, such as:
Because strength training requires you to push yourself, safety needs to remain a priority to avoid a serious injury. While machines are safer since they offer support throughout an exercise or lift, when you are using free weights, make sure you are either comfortable with the weight or have someone spotting you, just in case.
It can be easy to get carried away with how much weight you are lifting when you start strength training. However, the most important thing you need to master early on is your form. If you have poor form, then you not only run the risk of injuring yourself, but you also won’t get the most out of the exercise. As such, if you are a beginner or haven’t done strength training in a while, make sure you start simple and focus on perfecting the form of said exercise.
What you do before your strength training is just as important as the lifts themselves. Create a pre-workout plan in addition to your actual workout so that you can get your body in the right state to lift weights. A solid pre-workout plan typically includes stretching and a warmup jog. Conditioning your muscles for the workout ahead is a vital part of strength training that many make the mistake of neglecting.
In addition to what you do before your strength workouts, have a plan for what you do afterward. Once the strength exercises break down your muscles, complete a few more stretches, and consume some protein. You also need to give your muscles the adequate rest they need, which is why you shouldn’t target the same muscle group every day. Instead, give your muscles a break by instituting rest days and splitting your routine so that you only focus on two or three muscle groups at a time throughout the week.
The number of strength training days you do will largely depend on your fitness level and goals. For instance, if you are trying to build muscle and strength, then you will want to work out specific muscle groups at least twice a week. Figuring out your strength training routine and sticking with it is the key to it all. Over time, you will also want to change things up by either increasing your weight or trying new exercises to stay fit.
If you are serious about reaching your strength training ambitions, don’t ignore your diet, either. In addition to the exercises you do, either go into a caloric deficit to get lean or consume more calories to bulk up. However, this doesn’t mean eating whatever you want—instead, you’ll want to make sure you are getting plenty of nutrients. For some, this might be even harder than the exercises themselves, but it’s an essential part of strength training that will truly help you see the results you are looking for.
Strength training can be one of the most rewarding parts of your workout routine if you stick with it. With our complete guide to strength training and the various equipment you can get at Precor Home Fitness, you can get in the best shape of your life.