Everyone knows that lifting weights is a great way to build muscle, tone the body and improve your overall fitness. But how much is too much, and how much is too little? Do you know how much weight you should be lifting for your workout, when it’s time to increase weight and all those other answers to building a great strength-training routine?
The Basics of Lifting Weights
Before you get into lifting weights, even if you’re just going to use some hand weights to help build some muscle, figure out why you’re lifting them. Are you trying to build new muscle, strengthen existing muscle or get to the size of a bodybuilder? Chances are, you want to strengthen and tone your existing muscles, rather than increase your muscle size. This means that you’re looking for weights that you can lift at 10 to 20 reps per exercise.
Start with the fundamentals before you start lifting weights as part of your regular exercise routine. If you’re going to lift weights, make sure you’re focused on your form. Lifting properly is just as important as the amount you lift. Focus on every move, and move slowly. Strength training isn’t cardio. You don’t have to go as fast as possible to get your heart rate up. Just focus on your technique and lift properly.
If you’ve never seriously lifted weights before, or you’re no longer lifting regularly, you need to start out with a light load. If you’re using free hand weights, for instance, begin with 3 pounds in each hand. When you can easily do 12 reps of your weight lifting exercises with little strain, it’s time to increase to 5 pounds. Keep going up in weight to continue building muscle. If adding new muscle bulk is your ultimate goal, continue going up in weight (slowly) to get your desired results. If you’re trying to build muscle, lower your reps to perform 4 to 8 reps per set.
If you’re working with a lifting machine, start at the lowest or second-lowest level, and follow the same pattern. If you’re trying to tone muscles and keep your muscles healthy and strong, you want to find the weight level that you can lift with only a moderate amount of strain. If it feels too easy, it’s time to increase the weight a little.
Don’t Go Too Heavy
It’s important to build up slowly when it comes to lifting weights. Don’t be afraid to add more weight if your workout begins to feel a little too easy. But at the same time, you don’t want to go too heavy with your weights and cause too much strain on your body. If your arms feel like noodles and you can barely finish your reps, you’re lifting too much. Lift weights that are little lighter, and build strength until you can use a heavier set.
Lifting weights is a great way to trim and tone your body, but it can also do a lot of harm to your body if you aren’t doing it right. Start light, focus on your form and learn all the basics of lifting weights. As you get more comfortable, you’ll get a lot stronger with your weight lifting workout.