If you’re looking to build some muscle or just add some tone to your current physique, it’s important to first set a goal for what you want to accomplish. Simply lifting random weights is not going to do much for you in the long run. A personal trainer is great for mapping out weight lifting goals for you, but some of us in the real world can’t afford to have one. This article is about some simple and effective weight lifting routines that beginners can use to start seeing some real results.
First thing’s first. Talk to your doctor before starting ANY exercise regimen to make sure that your are physically capable of proceeding. I can’t stress enough how important this is!
Another quick tidbit to remember is that if you are overweight or just generally have a lot of body fat, you will not see results very quickly once you start lifting weights. The reason for this is that your muscles are cushioned and surrounded by this fat which must be burned off to show the definition you have built. There is some good news, though. It is common knowledge that muscle actually burns fat, so the more muscle you build the quicker the fat will burn off! Add some cardio to your routine during your rest days and you will see results much, much quicker.
Once you have been cleared and are deemed healthy enough to proceed, then let’s get down to business. For the purposes of this article I will assume that you have a membership to a gym or access to weight lifting machines. Before heading off to the gym, it’s good to have the proper shoes and clothing as well as a big bottle of water and a towel.
Step 1 – Warm Up
Before you go lifting things it’s always good to warm up your muscles. If you live close enough to your gym to walk, then doing so will already give you a leg up. If not, a quick ten minute stroll on the treadmill will get your blood flowing and your body prepared for weight training. It’s also good to stretch, as this will minimize injury and you will experience less muscle soreness the next day. Find a comfortable spot on a mat at your gym and begin doing basic stretches. You may also need to find a wall or solid surface to do some hamstring and calf stretches. Once you are done, drink a little water and get ready to lift.
Step 2 – Find The Right Machines
For beginners, it is always good to start off on the weight lifting machines at your gym. Compared to free weights, your risk of injury is far lower. If you have trouble with any of these machines then ask somebody who works at the gym to help you. That’s what they are there for and will be more than happy to help you with any questions you might have. You can adjust and tweak settings on each piece of equipment to account for your height and arm span.
Step 3 – Begin!
For your first session of weight lifting, you don’t want things to be too easy or too hard. The whole point of lifting weights is to build muscle and if you are lifting too little you are not going to be challenging your body enough to actually build anything. If you try to lift too much at the beginning you are going to become discouraged and risk injury. The amount you’ll want to lift will depend on your own natural strength and body type, so just use trial and error. You will know when something is too easy or too hard.
For all these exercises you will be performing 3 sets of 15 repetitions each with a 1 minute rest in between sets. Resting is extremely important…don’t skip it! Also be sure to drink plenty of water in between and after your sets to stay hydrated and reduce muscle soreness.
- Crunches – There are most likely several different machines at your gym that target the abdominal muscles. Find one that has a seat, sit down and brace your feet in the correct spots. Give it a few tries to see if the amount of weight is correct for you, and once you are satisfied with this go ahead and begin. The most important thing to remember when using this machine is to NOT use your upper body or legs too much to lift the weight. You want to pull this weight up with your abdominals.
- Lateral Raises – Head over to the lateral raise machine and have a seat. Here we will be working the shoulder muscles as well as the upper back. Adjust the weight and seat height as you see fit and lock your arms into the padded handles. Push your arms up until your they are completely horizontal and your elbows are at shoulder height and go back down. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed and try not to raise them up while doing this exercise.
- Chest Press – In the weight lifting exercise you will be working your pectoral muscles. Have a seat after choosing the amount of weight you want to lift, lock your legs into the machine and grip the handles so that your arms are out slightly wider than the shoulders. You want to push using your upper body; try to not use your legs as we want to work the chest muscles here.
- Leg Press – This machine will work your quadriceps (quads) as well as the hamstring muscles and the rear end. Sit down at the machine and make sure that both of your legs are lined up at the same height, which should be at about eye level. Push upwards using your legs and keep your back completely flat against the seat. Take great care with the leg press as there is a greater potential for injury on this machine! Start off with a very light weight until you get the hang of it, then gradually increase the weight each time.
There are of course many more weight lifting routines that you can perform when you hit the gym, but these will get you started and I guarantee you will feel it the next day. Once you are comfortable on the machines, it’s good to ask someone if you are doing these exercises with proper form. Proper form will insure that you are getting the most efficient workout while minimizing the chance for injury. Good luck!