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Weight Lifting for Beginners

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Weight Lifting Tips for Beginners

In my experience the best way for beginners to get involved in weight lifting is simply to get started on the following.

First things First

Of course, you need to make sure you’re up to the task – you should already have a base level of fitness with the doctors approval, and if you’ve been living an inactive lifestyle for a while, its worth getting yourself on a program of basic cardio for a month or so before you begin with weights.

Weight lifting is an anaerobic activity and can put a fair bit of stress on your cardiovascular system – you want your arteries nice and elastic and your heart and lungs to have a base level of fitness before you hit the weights room.

Correct Form

Once that’s taken care of, the first thing you need to do is learn the correct form. Some exercises simply require that you leave your ego at the door and don’t try to lift more than you can, for example the bicep curl. Others make take 2-3 weeks of repetition to really develop the right technique (and correct any major muscle imbalances that are holding you back) – for example, the squat and deadlift.

It’s worth practicing them with minimal weight at first, perhaps just the bar – and doing them frequently to “grease the groove” so to speak – i.e. to ingrain the movement in to your nervous system. Definitely watch videos on form, and better yet, get a personal trainer or athletic coach to watch your form and give you real-time feedback during and after your working sets.

Compound exercises with free weights, i.e. exercises that involve multiple joints and muscles, are by far the best choice for muscle growth and strength development, for any trainee – that includes beginners. There’s no need to begin with machines or cables first, the sooner you learn correct free weight form and start adding weight to the bar, the quicker your progress will be.

Also, you may need a fitting pair of weightlifting shoes to prevent injury, make you safer and in doing so, and you can again lift more with ease.

Take it Easy

At first, your tendons and joints may take a bit of a pounding as they adapt to the increased loads placed upon them. Your first three months in the gym are a time when you’re especially vulnerable to injury – your muscles are increasing in strength quickly, but your joints and tendons adapt more slowly and injury can creep in.

That’s why it’s especially important to keep your repetitions high – 10 to 12 per set – and stay well away from “failure”, i.e. the point at which you can lift no more weight. You’ll see huge guys lifting a lot of weight for low reps, and you might conclude that’s how you should train to get big – this is not true. Heavy weight and low reps are something to experiment with once you’ve built up a base of strength and muscle, and I don’t recommend that until you’re at least 6 months in.

Beyond that, have fun, maximise those “newbie gains” and enjoy what might be the fastest period of muscle growth in your life!

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