Beginners strength training is as important a component to your health as any. For those of you who are new to exercise, it is imperative that you make sure you are focus on the correct aspects of exercise so that you do not form bad habits. Bad exercise habits can lead to a myriad of detrimental issues. Injuries, over training, and many more miscues can lead to abrupt stoppage of any exercise progression.
Before delving into exactly what novice strength training entails we should talk about why it is so important. Of course we know that exercise in general is healthy for us in many ways. It stabilizes things like blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Also, exercise helps burn calories, keeping us slim and trim and more confident about being ourselves. Yet the different forms of exercise have different functions. For example, cardiovascular exercise – exercises such as running, swimming, or biking – while extremely heart healthy, does not build a significant amount of muscle as compared to strength training. While cardiovascular exercise is extremely important, building muscle is just as much so in terms of staying physically fit.
What happens when we build muscle? When we build muscle we not only become stronger and more physically toned, but we also boost our metabolism, the mechanism by which our body breaks down food. Muscle cells burn up to eight times more calories than fat cells, so by building muscle you are burning calories even while you are not working out!
For beginners it is important to follow two main guidelines. First, start slow. If you over-exert yourself you will fall prey to the detriments mentioned earlier. However, on the other hand, you want to make sure you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. It sounds like a paradox but there is a small window of intensity that you want to fall between in order to optimize your progression.
The best way to fall within this window is to start with body weight exercises. Wait a second, strength training with no weights? Yes, that is exactly how people should start out. Lifting weights are a hard thing to gauge, and without any resistance experience it is wise to start with body weight exercises.
You how the saying goes. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Good old fashioned push ups are an excellent way to kick off you strength training routine. Push ups are a multi-faceted exercise that work many muscles, most of all your pectorals and triceps, but also working your core and abdomen and the same time. There are many variations of push ups that you can mix in and out in order to maximize your progression. Military push ups – push ups that are done with your hands moved closer together than a normal push up – will work you triceps and arms more than the chest, while wide set push ups will target the chest more. Minimal research on push ups can provide an array of different styles to constantly shuffle up your work out.
Another quality body weight exercise to apply to your beginners strength training regimen are dips. Simply find a chair and place it in front of your couch. Put your feet on the couch and your hands on the chair, supporting your body weight. Lift yourself up and down in slow, controlled motions. This is an excellent triceps workout, also hitting your chest and arms.
We can not forget pull ups. Yes, they require a bar, but you can find pull up bars for pretty cheap online, so no excuses! Pull ups, like push ups, are an incredible body weight exercise. They target many muscles, many of them antagonist (meaning an opposing muscle set. An antagonist muscle to the pectorals may be the latissimus dorsi for example, a back muscle) to those of which are targeted by push ups. So combining pull ups and push ups you can create a pretty good workout with just those two alone. Plus, with pull ups there are also many variations that you can research very easily.
With these three body weight exercises you can create a great beginners strength training program without ever having to leave your house. Start out doing these exercises two to three times a week and document your progression before moving on to weights. You will feel pain at first, but as long as it is a good pain do NOT give up. If you can afford it, it could also be wise to invest in a personal trainer to assist you with regimens and motivation. Also, be sure to incorporate healthy eating into your regimens, making sure you take in more whole foods and less processed ones with fat and sugars.