If you are just starting on your weight lifting journey, athlete or not, being armed with some knowledge is a helpful place to start. The weight room at a gym can be intimidating, and the endless options of machines are especially overwhelming. My personal journey of weight lifting started very basic, and has now grown into a love and appreciation for strength training. My desire to further understand why and how to get stronger in the best possible manor lead me to studying for my NASM Personal Training certificate. If you have seen in the blogs (or have spoken with me in person), I often encourage everyone to lift weights in whatever capacity available to them. I find that most people are looking for results through cardio and sadly fall short. I want you to see your goals through and achieve what you may not have thought possible. Here are my 5 tips so you can start getting strong!
Body weight is good weight
If your access to a gym is limited, or your knowledge on proper form is far from comfortable, lean towards body weight exercises. Learning how to control your body movements through exercises with out weight will give you a leg up when you're ready to add more complicated movements and heavier weights. Push-ups, squats, lunges, hamstring bridge, pull-ups, planks, and core. You can get extremely creative with how you advance your exercises to create more of a challenge. Interval-style workouts are a great way to being working on your strength and your stamina. By first learning how your body moves through simple movements, you will begin to gain control over your body.
Have a plan
You don't need to have a full blown program where you lift bis and tris on Tuesdays/Thursdays and quads and hamstrings Mondays/Wednesdays (I'm pretty sure you're not trying to be a professional body builder... am I right?). However when you go to a gym to lift weights, you should have a plan. Choose exercises you are familiar with, or have gained some knowledge through tutorials. My advice is to stick with free weights and avoid the machines. Machines often do a lot of the mechanical/movement work for you. When trying to make yourself injury-adverse for sport and for life, the challenge of free weights is the best. Choose 5-8 different exercises which give you a full body workout, 3 rounds and 10-12 repetitions each. This will certainly give you a gage of where your physical strength is, and where you can add or improve for the next lift.
Increase the weight
Do not be afraid to increase the weight. This is something I must often reiterate to females. If you don't increase the weight, you will not see the kind of changes you are looking for in strength and physicality. Your body wants to come back to a place of comfort as quickly as possible. This is why it adjusts to the changes you place upon it, but then you must add a new challenge. Your increases should cause failure on round 3. Creating this kind of fatigue helps your body recognize its short comings, so it builds muscle to accommodate in response. Without muscle fatigue or "failure," it will be difficult to gage how heavy you can lift.
Find your "weaknesses"
If the idea of lifting weights is to become more injury-adverse, then you must find the areas in which you are possibly prone to injury. Have you noticed yourself easily tripping? Work on your balance and core stability with single leg exercises. Past injuries or tightness showing up? Learn which exercises help balance out over-active muscles. Seek out new challenges in a playful manor, as this will help you learn new forms of working out.
Do what works for you... or seek a professional
If you have programed a routine that adequately meets your needs, and you are able to continue to challenge yourself... bravo! It takes self-discipline and time to do the research to advance your form and technique. However, the self-coaching routine is not for everyone. If you are not in the position nor interested in investing the time it takes to advance your program on your own (understandable), then it's time to find someone who can do that for you. When you find someone who helps you achieve goals, then you have prioritized the need of a professional as one well worth the price. Which ever you choose, it should be right for you and should help you reap the benefits of lifting weights for your entire life!