5 Tips for Safe and Effective Strength Training
Getting in shape and gaining strength can be an exciting endeavor. If you have done your research or spoken with an expert, you have likely learned that strength training is one of the most efficient and effective options out there for gaining strength as well as toning muscles. Workouts can be done in a timely manner and it is easy to track progress which makes it appealing to many people.
One of the more appealing aspects of strength training is that it can be done from either a gym or your home depending on access to equipment. But as you incorporate this effective training into your workout routine, it is imperative to make sure you are doing so safely.
As efficient and effective as strength training may be, injuring yourself due to lack of safety precautions can set you back as well as cause long term damage. Learning how to add the proper weight, complete lifts with the correct form and add rest in between workouts will allow you to make the gains you are hoping for while staying safe in the process.
Tip #1: Add Variable Resistance Training to Your Routine
Any power lifter will tell you that to gain strength all you need to do are squats, deadlifts, and some form of press. While there is a lot of truth to this, sometimes strength gains become stagnant and you need to mix things up a little bit. Or maybe you are simply bored with the same lifts and want to add in some variety.
This is where variable resistance training comes in. Sometimes called VRT, variable resistance training uses either resistance bands or chains to add new movement and weight to a lift. Some lifters use resistance bands for supplemental exercises while others incorporate variable resistance training during each workout session. Whichever option you choose is merely preference as both options will allow you to benefit from the training.
Tip #2: Add Weight to the Bar, Slowly
Weight lifting is one of the most effective options to gain strength, and to do so quickly. If you are just starting out in your weight lifting routine, you want to start slow and figure out the magic number for your one rep max for each lift. Once you figure out your max for each lift, you can either use a lower weight and do higher reps or use a higher weight and do lower reps.
Adding weight to the bar is luckily a simple science, where you are trying to overload your muscles to make them work overtime to gain strength. Figuring out what amount of weight to add to the bar doesn’t have to be complicated. Remember that one of the most important parts of weight lifting is staying safe, so adding a large amount of weight to the bar just to challenge yourself isn’t recommended. Instead, slow and steady increases will add up over time.
Tip #3: Focus on Rest and Recovery Too
Many weightlifters do themselves a disservice by forgetting to factor in rest and recovery both between sets as well as between training sessions. You may be surprised to learn that the body needs a minimum of 48 hours to recover before being ready to lift weights or use resistance training again. So as much as you may want to hit the gym every day, it is more beneficial as well as safer to have off days to let your muscles rest and be ready for the next workout.
The other factor to consider when resting is to rotate the lifts you are doing during your training sessions. You want to make sure that you are completing each lift at least twice a week, but three times is usually the max of completing the same lift each week. Some trainers suggest rotating the type of lift you are doing as well, so it may be that one day of the week you are completing bench press and then the next session you work on overhead press. That way you are working similar muscle groups but also adding variation to allow some of the muscles to rest.
Tip #4: Form and Control Should be a Priority
Whether you are learning certain lifts and movements for the first time, or have been strength training for years, form is crucial for both progress and safety. It is easy to make mistakes when it comes to form and lifting as your body’s strength and Do You Really Need Special Weight Lifting Shoes? energy levels change over time. If you have a workout partner, make sure not only are they spotting you when you lift, but that they are also watching your form and technique. If you are working out by yourself, use your phone to take videos for form checks.
As you add weight to the bar or begin to use more challenging resistance bands, it is easy to lose control just to complete a rep. But control is what keeps you from getting injured and is what allows the correct muscles to complete the lift. Remember to breathe when completing a lift as well as take your time from the start of the lift to the very end when you rack the bar.
Tip #5: Use Proper Equipment and Accessories
When beginning a new workout routine, it is easy to get excited and go overboard with new gear. Instead of buying every item on the market for strength training, experts recommend focusing on having the proper footwear as well as possibly investing in a belt depending on your age and back issues. Many workout companies make weightlifting shoes which are worth investing in as they allow your foot to have traction as well as stay flat when performing the lifts.
Although weightlifting belts can be pricey, it can be worth the money if you are older and just starting out lifting or if you have any back concerns as a weightlifting belt’s purpose is to help protect your core and back.
Incorporating a strength training routine is an excellent way to stay healthy and fit while building muscle in the process. Just remember that it takes time both during the workout session and after to let your muscles rest to gain the strength they need. If you work on form and slowly add weight to the bar, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you will make gains from your workout routine.
Having completed my Bachelor’s degree in medicine and currently pursuing a house job at a well-reputed hospital in California, I decided to utilize my spare time in sharing knowledge with others through my blog. Apart from my time spent in the medical field, I love to read fiction novels and go on long drives.