When someone talks about strength training or weight training, what’s usually on your mind? A dude with bulky biceps lifting that 10-ton weight in front of the mirror looking like The Hulk, right? Wrong!
It can be intimidating when you see dudes like that in the gym, but truth is, not only bodybuilders are suitable for weight training. Anyone can do it, even if you are short and petite, as long as you have the determination and the discipline. The popularity of strength training has been on the rise, especially among females, as more people see the benefits of this workout type.
Before we get started, let’s first understand this. Strength training specifically helps to build muscle mass and strength. Weight training, on the other hand, uses equipment to increase mass, strength and fitness outcomes.
Some of the benefits of strength training include:
- increase in bone mass and lean mass
- a decrease in fat mass
- weight loss
- sleep improvement
- improvement in mental health
- improvement in blood circulation
And the list goes on.
Besides being beneficial for your health, it has a significant boost to your self-esteem and confidence. That’s because your body not only becomes more toned, your body releases endorphins when you exercise, which gives you the feeling of positivity.
Understanding Strength Training
In weight training, we use the terms sets and repetitions. Sets refer to the number of repetitions performed back-to-back. Repetitions refer to a single type of exercise. For starter, focus on just two or three types of exercises, for example, 10 repetitions of the bicep curl and crunches, 2 sets each. Slowly increase the sets and repetitions as your body adjusts to the new change, do not overdo it. There will be plenty of time to build those muscles.
How do you get started?
The good news is, strength training can be done anywhere.
You don’t need to sign up for a gym membership to start. Workout sets like squats, lunges, crunches, and sit-ups do not need any equipment, not only is it free, it is a great start for beginners. If you work out 3-4 times a week and looking to spice up your workout routines, don’t be afraid of the kettle bells or dumbbells, just remember to start from the lightweights not to lift weights before adding more resistance as you progress. Do not try to be a superhero, or have high expectations on yourself. It is highly recommended to engage a personal trainer to assist you to avoid straining your muscles and injuries.
A personal trainer will be able to come up with a program that suits your body type and also a good dietary plan. If you still prefer to have your privacy, there are lots of videos online for you to explore. The benefits of following those videos are the freedom to stop, pause or skip some of the exercises without being judged. I know how that goes!
Types of Strength Training Exercises
For beginners, you can focus on one or two exercises for the upper muscle group, and three to four types for the lower body. Below is a list of some of the exercises that target the different muscle groups.
|Muscle Group||Types of Exercise|
|Biceps & Triceps||Biceps curl, Pike Push Up, Chair dips|
|Shoulders||Plank to Downward Dog, Side Plank, Corner Lateral Raises|
|Chest||Kneeling Push Ups, Dips, Plyometric Push Ups|
|Back||Planks, Inverted Rows, Pull-Ups|
|Abdominal||Crunches, Mountain Climber Twist, Plank with Spinal Rotation|
|Thighs & Calves||Squats, Lunges, Leg Press|
Don’t forget that your muscles are working very hard every time you exercise, so be merciful to them and let them rest for at least a day to recuperate.
But it does not mean that you can go back to the couch during that rest day! Do some light cardio exercises, like going for a long walk or walk the trail, to maintain your momentum.
Experts recommend that you should not forgo cardio exercises such as running, swimming, hiking to have a more holistic workout regime. Strength training or weight training is an anaerobic exercise because of its high intensity and non-oxygen sources of energy. Cardio is an aerobic exercise that builds your endurance and stamina.
Combining both will increase your cardiovascular endurance and burn those fats on certain parts of the body that strength training cannot target.
Go ahead, explore your way through the different exercises and watch your body transform into your desire body figure! One very important note before we end off, don’t get too serious as you embark on your strength training journey! Remember to hydrate before and after the workouts, don’t be too hard on yourself and our body needs time to adjust and don’t overstrain your muscles.
A peek into my workout routines…
I work out 5-6 times a week, focusing more on weight training and around 15min of cardio exercises. I like to rotate the sets and add new ones to target the specific muscles.
Recently because of COVID-19, gyms and other recreational facilities have closed, so I have been following HIIT work out videos on Youtube. These videos helped me better achieve my targets. On days when I’m feeling pumped up, I’d do for instance lower ab workouts and a full-body workout after. That is about 45min in total. On days when I am feeling inactive, I’d do around 20min of specific workout exercises.
Here is an example of my HIIT routine.
My advice to all you guys who are starting strength training, start slow and once you get the momentum, you’d find new ways to spice things up. I remember when I first started, I read up a lot of these exercises to learn how to get started. I workout on the treadmill and the elliptical trainer 2-3times a week, but it is not targeting every part of my body. I was pushing myself very hard and one day I injured my back muscle, I couldn’t lift at all for 2 weeks. I could not even turn my head, I had to turn my entire body. It was the worst 2 weeks of my life. That’s why you mustn’t lift something too heavy nor too light.
We all have expectations for ourselves but don’t let this demoralize you. Strength training trains your mind, strength, and muscles. They bring pain to the ass during and after the workout but don’t give up because you did not finish the whole video, or you feel you are not for this. You will become used to the routine and might even get addicted to your new lifestyle (like me). Go for it and sweat it out for your desire body figure today!
Share with me your workout routine by dropping a comment below! Don’t forget to subscribe and follow Millennia Mom At Work too!