The American College of Sports Medicine recommends regular strength training for quality of life and health. Although strength training isn't always easy, the physical and emotional benefits it provides make it well worth the effort. For example, it can increase your muscle mass, overall health, and self-confidence.
Here are five tips for getting the most out of your workouts.
1. Plan & Document
If you fail to have a long-term weight lifting plan with well-defined goals, you most likely will not succeed. The practice of lifting weights requires measurable goals, constant diligence, and detailed documentation. Consider keeping a workout journal that allows you to track your numbers, measure your goals quantitatively, and evaluate your progress. A journal is especially important if you consistently alter your workout sets and choices (as you should). Always be sure to plan reduced workout phases to prevent overtraining and injuries.
2. Separate Fact from Fiction
When it comes to lifting weights, there's a lot of conflicting information from books, the Internet, and personal trainers. One of the most common myths is that the only way to increase muscle mass is by lifting heavy weights. However, lifting lighter weights to the point of fatigue has also been proven to be very effective. Many people believe it's best to work out a different muscle group every day. However, full-body circuit training may actually be better for muscle in the long run. Finally, incorporating a reasonable amount of cardio in addition to strength training will burn more calories and improve aerobic capacity without inhibiting strength gains.
3. Ask an Expert
Anyone can educate themselves about weight training through books, magazines, and the Internet. However, it's equally important to learn directly from established experts and trained fitness professionals. Consider joining a gym or at least attending a few classes to work with an experienced trainer. This is important because proper lifting technique will accelerate the muscle-building process and reduce the risk of injury. A personal trainer is especially important for beginners because they will receive individualized instruction, motivational coaching, and helpful safety tips.
4. Switch Things Up
Avoid obsessing over a certain muscle group or workout. Create your own weekly or monthly workout routines and then alter them consistently. This will avoid muscle burnout and force continual muscle growth. Change the intensity, frequency, and duration of both your cardio workouts and weight lifting routine. For example, focus on low repetition, heavy lifts one month and multiple repetition, lighter lifts the next month. Include a good mix of free weights, resistance bands, and machines. Be sure to engage in 10 to 15 minutes of warm-up before lifting. Finally, perform long cardio workouts and weight training on different days or at least in separate sessions.
5. Get Your Diet in Order
Unless you follow the right diet, your hours spent at the gym could be all for naught. Proper nutrition is the key to weight training success. Be sure to consume carbs and protein before every workout. Carbs will give you energy and protein will build muscle, increase fat loss, and decrease hunger. Excellent sources of protein include lean meat, poultry, fish, and nuts.
Pre-workout and post-workout consumption of protein has been shown to increase energy and muscle-building. Drink plenty of water after the workout is complete. For workouts lasting less than an hour, avoid sports drinks, as they are full of sugar. Consuming whey protein after a workout is one of the most convenient ways to help build muscle. Stick to supplements that are as natural and high-quality as possible. Daily vitamins and supplements can also be beneficial for muscle growth and overall health.
In summary, weight lifting has excellent social, physical, and emotional benefits. Planning and documenting your goals and routines will help you progress. Distinguishing between weight training facts and fiction will save you time and effort. Working with a trainer or other professionals will expand your knowledge and expertise. Varying your workouts will help you avoid plateaus. Finally, eating properly will help you build muscle.
About the Author
Ryan Blair is a freelance writer who has spent 12 years in the fitness industry doing just about everything including personal training for 6 years. He now spends his time combining his love of writing with his experience in fitness. If you want to contact him you can do so at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-blair/a5/230/674.