Love doing cardio? That’s great. You should be proud of yourself if you spend time running, swimming, or other aerobic activities every day. But don’t forget to include strength training exercises in your routine. Also known as weight training, it can be a little scary at first but knowing a few rules can take you a long way.
It is not wise to consider aerobic exercise or strength training better than the other. Strength training is as important as cardio. The former helps build bigger, stronger, and lean muscles, which burn more calories even when you’re not working – a great advantage when you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your BMI. More importantly, it strengthens the bones, joints, and ligaments and thus improves muscular endurance and avoids injury. Plus, strength training workouts allow you to give in everything you have.
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Strength Training Tips for Beginners
- Start with bodyweight exercises
Strength training is the act of creating resistance for your muscles and that can be done in many ways. Apart from the massive weight and hardcore machines, several exercises require minimal to no equipment. Simple exercises like push-ups and squats are highly effective. Then, there are tools like resistance bands, kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls, and slider disks among others. However, go for bodyweight exercises like lunges, wall sit, calf raise, bear crawl, tuck jump, etc. Experts suggest that exercises should challenge you more than anything else.
2. Begin with 2 days a week
When you include weight training in your routine, do it no more than 2 times a week. You should ideally do it 3-5 days every week but not right away. Including strength training in your routine 5 days every week in the beginning might have negative effects on your body. Start with 20-minute sessions and add 10 minutes till you reach up to 60 minutes. However, increasing the duration of strength training should not lead to a decrease in cardio exercises.
3. Don’t skip warm-up
A strength training workout is most effective when it is preceded by a proper warm-up. Starting by waking up your muscles using a foam roller. It loosens up the muscles so that they begin to work the way they are supposed to. So, a warm-up prepares your muscles for the activities you are about to do. Moreover, a warm-up increases the range of motion of your muscles that allows you to perform the proper motion of the exercises and get the best results. A warm-up reduces the risk of injuries as well and allows you to perform better.
4. Upper body exercises + lower-body exercises
You must have heard of chest day, back day, legs day, etc. but when you’re a beginner and doing strength training just 2-3 days a week, you should aim at a full-body workout. That way, you burn maximum calories and work most muscles in each session. The best way to do this is to perform one upper-body move with a lower-body move. This allows the upper and lower parts to recover in the meantime. Also, alternate between movements like pulling and pushing. For example, pair squats with push-ups, walking lunges with lats pulldowns, and so on.
5. Aim for 15 reps
When you start, aim for 3 sets of 15 reps. you can and should try changing these numbers when you get comfortable performing the complex exercises. For example, if you start with 15 squats and then 15 push-ups, take a small break and do these exercises 2 more times. Do the same with other exercises as well. It doesn’t mean that you HAVE to complete 15 reps because it can be difficult at first. So, do at least 8 reps or as many as you can. In any case, aim for 15 in the first set at least.