Weights or resistance training is terrific for your health, strength, body shape and general well being, but you do want to make sure you are covering the basics of training correctly and safely! Follow these resistance training guidelines below to make each workout session is a safe and successful training.
Before you start your workout make sure you warm up properly. It's simple advice, but we often miss out a warm out even though it only takes a few minutes and it will get your muscles ready for work, assist your mental preparation, and help prevent injury. Any activity is good, so try the stationary bike, rower, elliptical, or even a walk, for five to ten minutes.
Stretching is also very important and you should aim to stretch all the major muscle groups - back, chest, legs, shoulders, arms - before starting your resistance training session. Hold each stretch for a good 15 secs, and don't go past the point of a comfortable level of tension.
Posture before and during each set of weights training is important for maintaining good form or technique, targeting the right muscles, and keeping your lower back safe. Aim to have your chin and chest up (think 'attention' in the army), core or stomach and lower back muscles tight, keep your joints 'soft' or bent slightly, and if you are standing have your feet shoulder width apart and firmly balanced. The incorrect posture can be disastrous for your resistance training, as an injury can put you off schedule for weeks!
Good technique is critical for training success and it's one of the best things you can do to get great results and not injuries from your training. You should be taught proper technique by a personal trainer or an experienced friend. Once you have the movements correct, you should perform every exercise in a controlled fashion avoiding bouncy or jerky movements. Going faster or using ballistic movements is actually much easier work for your muscles and causes less tissue breakdown so you won't get as much from the workout as you could.
Allow your body time to recover between training sessions. A general rule for when you’re starting out is to allow each muscle group one to two days rest between sessions. More advanced trainers can train every other day or might use a split program to work different muscle groups on successive days. If you don’t rest properly then you increase the chance of overtraining and getting injured.
We recommend you do this every day of your life! Hah hah. But seriously, it's also something you should do during resistance exercise – so breathe naturally throughout each set. A regulating breathing pattern can help you lift very heavy loads, and a good rule to remember is to "exhale on effort". So breathe in on the easier phase of the movement (called the eccentric or lowering phase) and breathe out steadily on the harder (or concentric) phase. The key thing to remember is not to hold your breath, especially if you have high blood pressure.
At the end of your weights workout a five or ten minute cool down is a good idea. The cool down period allows your body, especially your heart rate, to slowly return to normal resting levels. Stretch thoroughly after the cool down, holding each stretch for a good 15-20 secs. Give more attention to the areas you have worked more in the workout, as resistance training does cause your muscles to contract and until they have lengthened again the healing and growing process doesn't fully begin!
Nutrition plays a big role in the way your body responds to the different forms of weight training. A good meal or snack of lean protein, low GI carbs, and unsaturated fat is the best fuel for your body and will assist in repairing the muscle tissues you have just worked during the resistance training. Don't wait more than an hour after your session to re-fuel, and see our nutrition articles section for more ideas on eating well after resistance training.
To find out more about resistance training, strength training, using weights, or resistance exercises please contact us!