The Basics of Weight Lifting

Don't let weight lifting—or the people grunting and groaning as they curl 100-pound dumbbells—stop you from strength training.

Weight lifting can be intimidating for anyone, especially newbies. Not only can all of the equipment in the gym seem daunting, but also so can the people.

The trick is to remember everyone was new to lifting weights at some point. Adding weight training into your regular routine can boost your endurance performance and help you reach your weight-loss goals quickly.

More: 6 Tips to Stick to Your Weight-Loss Goals

Many worry about the myths that come with lifting weights. The biggest being that strength training will make them bulky and gain weight. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has some good news: it won't. They note "strength training can provide up to a 15-percent increase in metabolic rate, which is enormously helpful for weight loss and long-term weight control."

The old adage that 'muscle weighs more than fat' has been studied, and that also, is false. The CDC shares that some scientists estimate that the "space" that one pound of muscle occupies is about 22 percent less than one pound of fat.

Once you decide to start weight training, it's important that you do your research and approach it in a safe, practical way. Thomas Tanner, a trainer at Pure Austin Fitness in Austin, Texas recommends that newbies should focus on proper technique before adding weight, "Taking the time to learn correct form and technique will help promote safe lifting and decrease the risk for injuries."

More: 12 Reasons You Should Lift Weights

Tanner also shares the following four pieces of advice for newbie gym goers:

  • Always allow yourself time to warm-up before lifting. Warming up your muscles is important. Perform 10 to 15 minutes of moderate cardio and dynamic stretching to increase your body's temperature and blood flow to the muscles.
  • Focus on major muscle groups with multi-joint exercises before isolation exercises. Be sure to learn which exercises benefit certain muscle groups. Large muscle group and multi-joint exercises (i.e. bench press or squats) offer the greatest benefits and should be prioritized before isolation (i.e. bicep curls or calf raisers).
  • Slowly increase the amount of both weight and repetitions over time. Increasing the weight and intensity of your workouts too quickly can result in injuries.
  • Allow sufficient rest between workout sessions. Rest is just as important in running and aerobic activity as it is with weights. Always allow 24 to 48 hours of rest between strength training sessions of the same muscle groups.

These tips will keep you safe and injury-free when starting to add weight lifting into your training plan. Remember that when you start doing exercises such as squats, plyo-box step-ups etc., you can start out using your body weight and then build up to using weights.

Always speak with your doctor before beginning any new fitness program.

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About the Author

Ashley Lauretta

Ashley Lauretta (formerly Erickson) is a national writer and fitness enthusiast based in Austin, Texas. Her writing appears in Women's Running, Women's Adventure, Competitor and more. Ashley is a proud alumna of the University of California, San Diego. Find her online at ashleylauretta.com and @ashley_lauretta.

Ashley Lauretta (formerly Erickson) is a national writer and fitness enthusiast based in Austin, Texas. Her writing appears in Women's Running, Women's Adventure, Competitor and more. Ashley is a proud alumna of the University of California, San Diego. Find her online at ashleylauretta.com and @ashley_lauretta.

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