You may be in a hurry to get started lifting weights, building bigger muscles, and getting stronger. This is especially true if you’ve joined a reputable gym with proper equipment, like Retro Fitness.
But before you start, you better make sure you know everything you have to know first.
Warmups Are Necessary
You have to warm up your body first, to make sure you optimize your workout performance and to avoid injuries. The warmup prepares your body to deal with the weights. But you need to make sure you do a proper warmup, which means preparing the mobility and activation of the muscles you’ll be focusing on.
You should do some hip rotations, arm circles, deep reverse lunges to knee raises, and a few squats. Maybe add a coupe of minutes for jumping rope as well.
Proper Form is Key
There’s too much focus with some people on how heavy they can lift. But that’s not the most important part. You need to prioritize proper form first. Try this form for size:
- shoulders down and back with shoulder blades slightly retracted
- core braced
- slight squeeze of the butt
- ribs not flared
- back not arched
- long tall spine
- soft knees
- screw feet into the floor away from the body for torque in the hips
You should also avoid weights which are simply too heavy for you, which you’ll know when lifting the weight compromises your form. You’re just increasing the risk of injury.
Start with a Comfy Weight First
Instead of going with a massive weight right away, start with a weight that you can easily lift and move. That means you should be able to do about 10 or 12 reps of the weight for maybe 2 or 3 sets. If you can’t do this, then go even lighter so you can.
You need to ease into lifting weights, just like with any other sort of workout. Advanced athletes already know this, so there’s no reason for beginners to try to act macho by going with heavy weights right away.
Some folks, especially newbies, forget about proper hydration. You need to drink plenty of water—before, during, and after the workouts. Staying hydrated can optimize your performance.
You can also refuel your body with a protein snack after the workout, to help make sure you have the protein you need to build bigger muscles. A turkey wrap will do nicely, or you can go with some berries, sliced almonds, and cottage cheese if you’re a vegetarian.
No, we’re not talking about some unconventional sexual practice. We’re referring to the practice of some people when they use momentum to swing the weight up and down. If you need to do this, it just means you’re lifting a weight that’s too heavy or your muscles are just too tired.
Either way, stop doing this. Either take a short break, lift lighter weights, or end the workout.
Sure, plenty of us are busy, and we want to be done with the workout ASAP. But you’re not really becoming more efficient when you rush your workout, when you’re lifting weights.
Take your time instead. Visualize and feel your muscles at work. that will boost the effectiveness of the exercise, and also reduce the chances of injury. You’re also letting your body “learn” the movement positions, so you’re able to maintain proper form.
If you notice yourself rushing through the exercises when you’re near the end of the workout, it just means you’re really tired.
If you take some time to notice your breathing, you may discover that you’re holding your breath too often. Some people even hold their breath for an entire set without even noticing they’re doing it, and then only exhale once they’re done with the set. Don’t do that.
What you do instead is to exhale when your muscle contracts. Inhale as the muscle lengthens. So, when you’re doing a shoulder press, exhale as you press the weight up. Inhale as you lower the weight.
Don’t Do the Same Things Again and Again
It’s tempting to do the same exercises exactly the same way regularly, because you feel like you’ve “mastered” it. But you’re just taking it too easy on your muscles, and the point of lifting weights is to stress muscles (properly and safely, of course).
So, add a bit of variety into your workout. That way, your muscles are “shocked” by something new, instead of remaining unchallenged and unstressed by the same old exercises. Even if you do the same exercises, tweak things up. Change the number of reps, add a bit (but not too much) weight, and change the tempo.
Don’t Forget to Rest
You have to give your muscles time to recover properly, so they can actually build bigger muscles. Newbies should have 2 days off a week, while more advanced athletes still need a day off each week.
Keep these things in mind, before you get into lifting weights!