Everyone knows that exercise is great for health. But did you know that according to a new study, lifting weights in combination with cardio can reduce your risk of all-cause mortality by an additional nine percent over cardio alone?
I started exercising in college by running the hills in Upstate New York. This was until I started working at my campus gym and discovered personal training. When I got certified as a Personal Trainer, I had to learn a lot about different strength training exercises, what muscles they benefitted, and how different clients could utilize them. As I started experimenting on myself with different weight-lifting movements, I fell in love with how strong I felt. Running was easier because my legs and core were stronger. And I also noticed my body composition change in a way that made me proud of the work I was putting in at the gym. Over 10 years later, I’m still advocating for strength training to support healthy bones, muscles, and hearts!
If you’ve been told to start resistance training to improve your own health, but the idea of navigating the gym feels overwhelming, here are some tips on how to get started:
Weightlifting is a skill, and like other skills, it takes time to learn how to do movements safely and effectively. Start by watching others, whether it be at a gym or on YouTube, and then try to mimic those movements slowly and controlled (starting with just your body weight).
If you have access to a gym, cable machines are a good place to begin because you can reference the images on the machine for tips on how to use it.
Ask For Help
Working with a professional can help you better understand the movements and make sure you are performing them safely. If you know someone who already does strength training, asking to do a workout with them can also be a great first step as long as you make sure to use weights you can safely move.
Quit While You’re Ahead
A classic mistake I often see made is doing too much too soon. If you have never done strength training before, or it’s been a while since you last tried strength training, doing less will actually give you more. Leaving the gym feeling like you could have done an extra one or two sets is a good place to start because this gives your muscles time to recover for the next workout.
If you push yourself to the max before the body is ready, you will experience so much muscle soreness the next few days that you’ll likely be unable to get back to it. Ease into training, seriously.
Focus on Recovery
Weight training technically damages your muscle tissue, causing your muscles to build back stronger and healthier. Resting between workouts allows your muscles to repair themselves with blood and oxygen, but you’ll want to recover at home, too. Some key ways to recover include getting good quality sleep, walking, stretching, eating enough protein, and drinking LOTS of water.
Weight training doesn’t have to be your sole focus, but you’re doing yourself a disservice to skip it entirely. Incorporating 2-4 days into your exercise routine weekly is enough to get the health benefits of improved cardiovascular and metabolic health, and more. Have fun with it, and soon you’ll see your body transforming in ways you never thought possible.