Weight training is one of the most popular activities amongst men and women throughout the United States. Weight training is defined as the process of adding resistance to your muscles' movements. This is usually done by adding weighted dumbbells or using resistance machines in order to make it more challenging for your muscles to move. Weight training not only helps to increase the strength and tone or your muscles, it also builds endurance, allowing your body to work harder. Weight training is now recognized as an integral part of any well-rounded fitness routine.
What are the Benefits of Weight Training?
Weight training isn't just for bodybuilders any more! In fact, weight lifting offers a wide range of benefits for all types of men and women. These benefits include:
- increased muscle strength
- improved muscle tone
- better flexibility, balance, and coordination
- prevention of muscle and joint damage or injury
- decreased risk of osteoporosis (because weight training helps to increase mineral density inside of the bones)
- decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attack, and stroke.
Lifting to Lose: Weight Training for Weight Loss
Though you may associate weight training with weight gain, strength and resistance training is one of the best ways to lose weight. This is because strength training helps to increase your metabolism and the amount of muscle mass in your body, promoting weight loss.
In order to maintain itself, the muscle in your body burns a certain amount of calories everyday. Therefore, by building the amount of muscle you have, you can actually encourage your body to burn extra calories.
Getting Started with Weight Training: Learning the Lingo
Before you can get started with your weight training workouts, it is important to become familiar with the way weight training works. Here is a description of some of the lingo that you will need to learn when it comes to starting your routine:
- Repetitions: The term "repetition" is used to refer to the number of muscle contractions that you actually perform. Every time you lift your weight, you are performing a repetition. Generally, anywhere between eight and 20 repetitions can be performed.
- Set: Every series of repetitions that you perform is referred to as a set. Most weight training sessions involve performing two to three sets of various exercises.
- Recovery Time: It is important to allow your muscles to rest in between each set that you perform. This rest is referred to as your recovery time. Typically, recovery time lasts between 30 seconds and 90 seconds.
Types of Weight Training
There are several different types of weight training. Depending upon your particular health goals, you may feel more comfortable pursuing a certain type of weight training.
Training for Tone and Endurance
Strength and resistance training can be used to help build muscle tone and muscular endurance. This type of weight training tends to be most popular amongst women, who want to achieve a toned body but not bulk up too much. This type of weight training focuses on performing a circuit of exercises using light to medium weights that will help work out the entire body.
By performing a number of different exercises in repetition, this type of weight training can help you to lose excess fat, burn calories, and increase aerobic endurance. Typically, 15 to 20 repetitions of each exercise are performed, with less than 30 seconds recovery time in between each exercise.
Training For Strength
Weight training is often used to build muscle strength and size in a particular part of the body. This is similar to the type of weight training used by professional athletes and bodybuilders. With this type of weight training, you aim to fully exhaust the muscle that you are working out. This is achieved by using a heavy weight and performing a low number of repetitions (typically 10 to 15). Numerous sets of repetitions are performed, all working on the same muscle group. A recovery time of between 60 and 90 seconds is typically taken between sets.
Beginning a Weight Training Routine
Before you begin your weight training routine, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Consult Your Doctor
Weight training can be quite taxing on your muscles and joints, so it is important to speak with your health care provider before you begin any weight lifting routine. If you are injured or experiencing pain in a muscle or joint, you may want to defer your weight lifting until you are recovered.
Alternatively, consult with a licensed physiotherapist for exercise recommendations. It is especially important to consult your health care provider if you are pregnant or are suffering from any of the following conditions:
- high blood pressure
Get the Right Equipment
In order to stay safe during your weight lifting programs, it is important to get the right equipment. Find a pair of shoes that are comfortable and have good support and traction. This will prevent you from slipping when you are lifting weights.
If you are going to be lifting heavy weights, you may want to invest in a pair of weight lifting gloves, which will allow you added traction on barbells and dumbbells. And ask a professional trainer or a person familiar with your weight training equipment to show you how to use exercise machines properly.
Weight training is not a sport to be rushed. Start off slowly, with a low weight and by performing just one set of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise. Try to focus on all of the major muscle groups, including the chest, arms, legs, and core. Be sure to warm up and stretch properly before lifting any weights, and also do a cool down stretch after working out.
Most routines last about 20 minutes or so. After about six weight lifting sessions, gradually increase the number of sets that you are performing. Work up to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, and then begin to increase your actual weights.