Strength training can be intimidating to a fitness newbie, especially if you've never operated one of those machines with the pulleys and levers, or you don't want to go toe-to-toe with that tan, grunting guy. However, strength training is a crucial part of getting fit that just can't be ignored. Cardio alone doesn't cut it. I repeat: cardio alone does not cut it. Now I'm not saying you should be able to bench press like Arnold, but even a few days of light strength training each week can do wonders for your health—and not to mention, your physique.
Not only does resistance training help build muscle strength, it increases your body's resting metabolic rate, causing it to burn more calories throughout the day. (Yes, please!) It also reduces blood pressure, decreases your osteoporosis risk, and improves your balance. If you're a strength-training beginner, these seven tips will get you going in no time.
Health.com: 10-Minute Workout for Defined Arms
1. Do a Cardio Warm Up
It's important to get your heart rate up before starting your strength-training routine. Begin with a 5-minute warm up of brisk walking, light jogging, or dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching uses controlled movements to loosen up your muscles and increase your range of motion. Try doing some walking lunges or butt kicks.
More: 30-Day Cardio Challenge
2. Learn Proper Technique
In order to prevent injuries, you must know proper form and technique. Proper technique will make sure that you're working the right muscles without straining. If you're a true beginner, it can be beneficial to invest in a single training session. A trainer can show you the correct positions, grips, and motions while also helping you create a basic strength-training routine. If you don't want to spend the money on a trainer, there is a lot of free content online to help you learn proper form.
Health.com: Total-Body Toning Workout That Melts Fat
3. Know Your Options
You may associate strength training entirely with dumbbells, but they aren't your only option. In fact, there are many modes of strength training at the gym, and even in your own living room. You can use resistance bands, weight bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, exercise balls, your own body weight ? the list goes on. You can also take advantage of strength-training classes your gym may offer. Classes are a great way to learn how to use equipment that's new to you while also keeping your routine fresh.