Pumping iron can burn some serious calories, tone muscles and build overall strength. But before you pick up those weights, it’s important that you are setting weight lifting goals.
Pros of Weight Lifting
Weight lifting can help to boost metabolism because muscle burns way more calories than fat does. But that’s not the only benefit! Along with tight and toned muscles and increased physical strength, weight lifting also strengthens bones which helps to prevent osteoporosis.
First, you need to decide exactly why it is you want to lift weights. Are you looking lose weight or build muscle? Your answer to that question will determine how you design your weight training program. If you’re picking up the weights because you want to lose weight, than you’ll be lifting less weight, but performing more exercises and more reps. If you’re doing it for increased strength, you’ll want more weight with less reps.
Basic Rules for Weight Lifting
Warm up for a few minutes to prevent injury by either doing light cardio or lifting lighter weights. Remember to lift and lower weights slowly and don’t forget to breathe. Posture is also crucial, tighten your abs to help you balance and prevent back injuries. Always rest for two to three minutes between each set of reps.
What Muscles? How Many Reps?
It’s important to work all the muscle groups to get a total body workout. You should perform a total of eight to ten exercises, one exercise for following muscle groups: chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, quads, hamstrings and abs. The number of reps and sets you do will vary based on your weight lifting goals. To lose extra pounds, perform one to three sets of ten to twelve reps. To build strength and muscle, perform three plus sets of six to eight reps to fatigue. In order for muscles to recover, weight lifting should be done on alternate days, two to three times a week.
Find the Right Weight
Before you being your training, you’ll need to determine, by trial and error, what weights to use. Once you’ve warmed up with light weights, pick up a set that’s roughly five pounds heavier than the lighter set you just used. Perform your first set of reps with these weights and if they’re too light, continue to heavy up on your next set of reps until you find the weight limit that’s just right. You should be able to perform no more than your desired number of sets and you should be struggling on your last rep while still maintaining your posture. Remember that larger muscles will require heavier weights while you’ll need to scale down with smaller muscles.
Muscles grow and change, so keep your workouts fresh by adding in new exercises. Avoid working on the same muscle group for two sessions in a row. Similar to weight loss goals, you’ll see a plateau after a few weeks of weight lifting, so be sure to change the amount of weights you use and the exercises you perform.