Beginning Strength Training – 5 things you need to know before hitting the gym
When it comes to starting any strength program please make sure to consult a professional. This give you a base to go off of and will help prevent injuries. Now to the fun stuff! Below I will list the 5 most important things to do/know before starting a strength routine.
- Know your limits – as I stated above, consult a professional this could be your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough or don’t have any existing conditions that may limit your potential in your strength routine or meeting with a certified personal trainer to help create a plan to reach your potential.
- SLEEP – make sure you are getting enough sleep. Sleep affects two key components of strength training; fatigue and recovery. Studies show that when sleep is reduced that our output doesn’t change too much or our ability to exercise but it does show that when we have less sleep our fatigue sets in much quicker and by that reduces the potential in our workouts. With recovery the most important time to rebuild muscle and repair is when we sleep! So, make sure we are getting at least 6.5 hours of sleep daily.
- Consistency counts – as with know your limits we need to know what we want to do but also what we CAN do. When we set our goals make sure they are realistic so that we can create consistency in our routine which in turn creates a behavior. The worst thing we can do outside of not being safe in our routine is inconsistency.
- Learn how to warm-up and cool-down. The Mayo Clinic states, “Warming up helps prepare your body for aerobic activity. A warmup gradually revs up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. Warming up may also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury. Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure (mayclinic.org).” If you need help with pre and post exercises please contact your YMCA Health & Wellness Director.
- Train Large Muscle Groups – when starting a program, most of us are using strength training to help with either adding muscle or losing weight, either way training large muscle groups, especially in the beginning, will aid in adding muscle quicker due to our body’s response by releasing hormones and chemicals that aid in hypertrophy. For weight loss working larger muscle groups not only aids in adding muscle which burns more calories at rest but also larger muscle groups burn more calories when exercised! If you need more information on full body exercises and adding strength to your routine please read by past blog Adding Strength to Your Routine.
So in the end by knowing your limits, getting enough sleep, being consistent, proper pre & post exercises, and training large muscle groups we hope will lead to a success with starting any strength program. As I stated above, if you need any assistance please reach out to your local YMCA Health & Wellness Director to Get Started!
John Whitmyre, Downtown YMCA & Charles E. Lakin YMCA Senior Wellness Director