Making the first steps from your comfy couch and hitting the weights can be tough. But what’s most important is starting your training off on the right footing.

Before you rush off and grab the nearest dumbbell, you’ll need to take a look some of the fundamentals. By learning the basics first, you will be able to get the most out of each session and more importantly without injury.

We’ve put together 7 beginner weight training tips for success to help you with your workouts.

Have you been to the docs lately?

At any age getting an assessment from the doctors before you start a fitness routine, especially a weight lifting routine, is something that comes highly recommended in the fitness industry. 

Be particularly careful if you have joint problems like arthritis, lifting weights can worsen this condition. Heart/lung/ hypertension go without saying you must consult a doctor if you have history with any problems here.

Check list-consult a doctor first if any of the below apply to you:

  • Have you had any surgery lately?
  • Are you over 50? Are you used to exercise?
  • Are you taking any meds for heart or blood pressure?
  • Do you have a history of asthma?
  • Have you fainted recently or had any dizzy spells?

So if none of the above affects you, or you’ve visited the docs and he gave you thumbs up, it’s time to start training! Here’s the rest of our tips to help you train safely and effectively.


Eat Wise

There’s no point training hard if you are not going to eat the right foods, it’s like running a diesel car on petrol, it will get you nowhere…

If you are eating nutritionally sound meals you are already 60% on your way to gaining muscle mass. The other 40% is following and sticking to a well-planned training schedule. If you’re stuck on what healthy foods you can eat to gain some muscle, check out our 15 healthy protein sources for adding muscle.

salmon on chopping board

Think healthy! Think chicken breast, fish, whole grain, brown rice, make your own shakes, eat plenty of veggies. The number of calories someone needs to add muscle varies from person to person so take your time with your diet, work out what works best for you and how you train.


Always warm up and cool down

Workouts should always include a warm-up session to get the muscles ready for the workout, you can use some dynamic stretches and a few practice sets with a lightweight for form. Warm-ups should take you no more than 5 to 10 minutes but they’re well worth it if you want to avoid injury.

A cool down period lets your muscles recover and your heart rate return to normal, the first minute after a workout is most important for getting your heart rate to slow, take a gentle ride on the exercise bike or again a few dynamic stretches followed by a couple of static stretches will be great.


Slowly start to increase the intensity of your workouts

When most people start a training schedule they go all out, getting carried away trying to get results too quickly, it’s understandable you want to see results fast just like me when I first started. If you’re training in the gym its difficult not to be influenced by those around you.

When I first started training in the gym it felt more like a competitive arena, guys walking around with huge biceps and massive pecs, I was 16 and in awe, thinking wow I want those man!

Don’t be fooled these muscles won’t appear overnight, I soon found out it takes much hard work, the right diet and a good training schedule to get that far.

If you try too much at first you will only damage your muscles. Producing the opposite of what you want to achieve. You will invariably see no gains, you have to give the body a chance to adapt to the new conditions.

Sadly people lose interest at this point, no gains mean some give up, all because they didn’t take the time to do a little research and train correctly.

Luckily we are at home training, this really does help you take your workouts at your own pace and intensity, without pushing yourself over your limits.

20 years later and I can happily say I do all my training at home and don’t regret one bit leaving the gym.


Control your repetitions

Watching others to get an idea of how to do an exercise correctly, in general, is a good thing, but remember some people may be performing them incorrectly or different to a beginner.

The speed at which you do a repetition is also important, an advanced weight lifter may lift his weights slightly quicker developing power. Thomas R. Bachale says   “In an advanced weight training exercise programme designed to develop power, explosive exercise movements are required. A beginner programme should consist of slow controlled movements, ” Bachale says.

  • Make sure you are contracting each muscle group correctly through each movement, the more chance you will have of muscle growth.
  • Remember bad form comes from trying to lift too much weight too soon.

It’s not easy when you first start training but knowing how much weight to choose is probably one of the most important first decisions you will make.

It’s important to challenge your muscles but not so much you risk your form, choose a weight that feels hard but you are comfortable lifting, anywhere between 8 – 15 reps per set without compromising form, is about right if you’re training for just muscle gain (hypertrophy).


Start With Compound Movements

At the core of most good exercise programmes should be 5/6 compound movements. Compound moves such as the shoulder press, squat, bench press require you to use a multiple of muscles, this will help you increase your metabolic rate and increases the chances of muscle gain.

Nothing wrong with isolating muscles for exercise like the tricep, just make sure you have some compound lifts in there as well. If you are thinking of buying your own home gym equipment I’d recommend you have a friend to spot you with some compound lifts.

Compound lift Benefits:

  •  Raise metabolism, more muscle activated means more muscles burning calories. Compound lifts also help raise your resting metabolic rate, helping you burn calories up to 36 hours after your workout. Known as the afterburn effect.
  • Speed up strength progress. Compound lifts require you to lift heavier weights, as you use a multiple of muscles.


Train Regularly – Keep A Routine

  • A well thought out routine will help you achieve your goals, ” set realistic goals!”
  • Create a workout schedule that allows 5 – 10 mins for warm-up.
  • It’s best to train with as little distraction as possible,  if there’s generally a quiet time where you live and it’s not in working hours try to use that time to train.
  • Make sure you are consistent with your schedule, no point doing one week on, then 3 weeks later you decide to train again, the body doesn’t like to have such a large shock each time you train. Gradually is key, slowly raising the intensity… 3-4 times a week works best. Leaving 48 hours rest for each muscle group.

Keeping to a regular training schedule will improve both physical and mental health, the body releases feel-good hormones when undertaking a regular exercise routine, both your strength and muscle mass will slowly start to increase with regular weight training, feeling great will be the extra icing on the cake.


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