To maximize your time at the gym, you need to plan a strength training strategy before you start your workouts. This includes a method for learning proper techniques and a schedule that lays out a weekly guide for specific exercises and weights. Proper planning produces a more efficient workout and prevents injuries. Once you have learned the basics, you can slowly begin shifting to more complex methods for gaining muscle and increasing endurance.
The most important thing that a beginner can learn is proper technique. Strained muscles are usually the product of bad form and improper training. You may find information on proper techniques on websites or in books, but if you're unsure of techniques it is always best to ask a trainer at the gym for assistance. Weight lifting beginners should always start at a low weight. Only when technique is mastered should you focus on maximizing lifting sessions through high-weight, low-rep training.
It is also important to set a regular schedule. Many people try to work out three days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are popular workout days, but any variation is acceptable as long as you take one or two days in between each body part to rest. If you feel that your muscles are strained, then prolonged rest may become necessary.
Weight workouts should be prefaced by a short warm-up. You can use a variety of machines, such as the treadmill or rowing machine, to warm up before you being your weight lifting session. Most gyms provide a variety of equipment for weight sessions as well. You can choose from free weights, resistance bands, weight machines or weighted balls. Beginners should begin with a weight light enough to do two to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise.
It is also a good idea to focus on specific muscles during each workout day. For example, you could work on the chest and triceps one day, back and biceps the second day and legs and shoulders on the final workout day of the week. This allows each muscle group a few days of rest between workouts.
Muscle and Strength suggests the following exercises for each part of the body and provides instructions for each: chest--dumbbell bench press and incline bench press, which should be done at a 30-degree angle; triceps--tricep dips and the lying tricep extension; back--the wide grip pull up, seated row and one arm dumbbell row; bicep--a standing barbell curl; and legs--a 45-degree leg press, leg extension and leg curl. Try the military press and dumbbell lateral raise for the shoulders.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.