Tips to Start Lifting Weights
New to the gym? Looking to get build muscle and your metabolism? Mastered another type of exercise, but looking for a new challenge? Here are my tips to start lifting weights, based on my experiences when I started lifting!
Tips to Start Lifting Weights
1. First and foremost, research proper form for all exercises. Safety first!
Use your resources, whether it be bodybuilding.com's exercise library and a mirror, a knowledgeable friend, or a trainer...learn proper form from the beginning, please. You don't want to get hurt and you don't want to build bad habits. This is a mistake I made with several exercises like squats, and I'm still working on correcting my form. So, learn from my mistakes and do what you can to learn proper form and find somebody knowledgeable to critique your form.
2. If you've never lifted before, start with body weight exercises and/or very light weights
I know it can be tempting to go hard right from the start, but my suggestion: just start with bodyweight or light weight exercises to practice proper form and build a solid foundation for when you start lifting heavier.
3. Follow pre-programmed weight-lifting plans
This will help you learn the following: rep schemes, new exercises, and programming structure (body parts on certain days). From there, you can take away what works for YOU. I suggest trying out a few of these workout plans for about 4 weeks at a time to take away the parts of them that you like and to expose yourself to different training plans.
This is the plan I first followed when I started lifting: http://corinanielsen.com/livefit/weekly-training-routine/. This plan allowed me to learn new exercises and gave me a basis for what a weightlifting plan could look like. Shout out to Corina Nielsen for helping me start lifting!
4. Keep increasing the amount of weight you use (within reason and safely, of course)
Disclaimer: be careful not to increase weight TOO quickly. However, don't be afraid to slowly increase the weights that you're challenging yourself with, as this will keep your body challenged. If you continue to do the same amount of weight every week, you will not increase strength as efficiently as your could and you won't be challenging your body (which is what you want to do with weightlifting!).
5. Track your progress!
Keep a fitness journal or find a fitness app like BodySpace to track your workouts (the exercises you do) and the amount of weight you do. Not only will this help keep you accountable and on track, but you will be able to see how much you've progressed since the start! Once you have enough historical data to look back, you will feel empowered and proud of how far you've come! And I promise, you will make progress if you continue to challenge your muscles with increased weight and consistency! I didn't start keeping a fitness journal until about 1.5 years after starting lifting, but I really wish I had done this from the beginning.
6. Get a coach or join a weightlifting class
I suggest joining a weightlifting class or getting a strength-training coach if you: 1) don't want to program your own weightlifting routine, 2) want extra eyes on your form, or 3) want a new challenge!
For a while, I did YMCA's Body Pump weightlifting class to challenge myself. Then, I decided to take my weight training to the next level and joined a powerlifting gym. Here, I have a coach who programs workouts for our gym members and helps me tailor those workouts to my strength progression. I've seen incredible increases in strength and improved form after joining this gym.
Moral of the story
Learn proper form and research various exercises, don't be afraid to progressively increase weight, and try various programming technique to find what YOU like and what works for YOU! Enjoy feeling stronger and the positive effects weightlifting has on your body and mind!