6 Top Tips for Beginning Weightlifters to Build Muscle Faster

With social media filled with images of perfectly sculpted athletes lifting 100-pound weights, weight training can seem downright intimidating. It is important to remember, however, that weightlifting champions aren’t born that way — they developed their strength through a lot of hard work. We all have to begin somewhere.

Here are six strategies to help novice lifters get started with weightlifting:

Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash

1. Warm-up

During your warm-up, you can target different areas of your body with push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, and lunges. A fast walk or jog on the treadmill, or some time on the stationary bike or elliptical machine, is also essential. Start slow and increase the speed and/or intensity of your cardio. You can also try loosening any tight, stiff muscles with a foam roller. The hip flexors, adductors, lateral hip group, and pectoralis group tend to be tight and short, so target them with the foam roller first.

2. Start with resistance training

In the simplest terms, resistance training is any exercise where you push, pull, or work against a resisting force of some kind that makes the movement difficult to perform. Moving your body against gravity is a type of resistance.

A resistance training bodyweight workout might include push-ups of various kinds (incline, table top, etc.), pull-ups, squats, squat jumps, reverse lunges, skater hops, mountain climbers, glute bridges, planks, and more. YouTube is a great free resource for demonstration videos of all these exercises.

3. Push your limits

Always increase weight carefully to reduce the risk of injury. Generally, novice weightlifters should stick to one to two sets of 12–15 reps, increasing to three sets per exercise after a month of training. Any weights you lift should feel heavy enough to be challenging, but not so heavy that you sacrifice your form. You should push yourself to the point known as “near failure,” meaning you should still be physically able to perform the movement, but not one more rep.

4. Strike the right balance

Also keep in mind that your workouts do not have to be hours long: 45 to 60 minutes is the limit. Going for longer than that can be counterproductive.

5. Choose the right exercises

When you’re just getting started with weightlifting, it can be a good idea to follow total-body routines rather than concentrating on a single muscle group in a particular session, since doing a bit of everything helps maintain balance. A full-body training routine might cover the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, back, abdominals, and lower body.

6. Keep things in perspective

Douglas Healy is a Springfield, Missouri-based attorney with nearly 20 years of legal experience.

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