If you're a beginner just getting started on a muscle-building plan, you're likely feeling slightly intimidated. Starting a new activity of any type can seem a bit scary at times, and since there are so many different exercises to perform in a weight training program, this only adds to the intensity that you're feeling.
Luckily for you, if you're equipped with some basic knowledge, you'll be in the perfect position to get going. The great news is that as a beginner you will experience results at an accelerated level and will notice differences in how you feel and look in as little as a few weeks.
Here are the main points to know.
First things first, it's of utmost importance that you get proper form down pat when you're just starting. Getting off on the wrong foot with form will just lead to incorrect habits that are hard to break down the road. If you're uncertain about any exercises or need guidance on what proper form is for any exercise you are going to attempt to do, book a session with a personal trainer to show you.
This is the number one biggest thing you must get right. Incorrect form leads to injuries and lack of results.
Next, you'll want to focus on major lifts first during the workout. Any exercise that works more than one muscle group needs to come ahead of those that work on a single group. The reason for this being that those exercises are going to take much more energy to complete, therefore you want to be feeling fresh.
These include the exercises of bench press, squat, deadlift, shoulder press, and bent over row. If you're using machines, they will likely be called leg press, chest press, seated shoulder press, horizontal row, and lateral pull-down.
As far as rep ranges go, beginners would be best advised to perform somewhere between eight and twelve reps. Since you likely aren't going to be using an extremely heavy load, this will enable you to work in a slightly higher rep range while still seeing significant strength and muscular size and definition improvements.
Once you get more used to the different weight lifting exercises, then you can bring the rep range lower if you want to really focus on bringing your strength level up.
Another smart tip for all beginners is to aim to take at least one day off between each workout you do. This is going to really help control the degree of soreness you experience as well as helping to prevent you from feeling too overwhelmed with numerous sessions each week.
A full body workout is typically the best choice for those who are new to weight lifting and it will allow you to hit all the body parts three times a week for optimal results.
Stretching is something that many people, whether beginner or not, leave out from their workout. This is a big mistake however as the stretching is significantly going to decrease the amount of soreness you experience while increasing your range of motion so you're able to benefit more from the lifts you do complete.
Try to perform ten minutes of stretching after each workout you do, focusing on all the major muscle groups. You can also perform stretching activities on your day off while watching television for instance to further help reduce the amount of soreness you experience.
What you eat before and after your workout is going to play a big role in how well you perform during that workout and how quickly you recover afterwards.
While as a beginner it's unlikely that you're going to really start meticulously planning your food intake, making an effort to make sure you're eating foods containing both protein and carbohydrates before and after your workout will go a long way towards helping you get better nutrition.
Generally speaking, free weight exercises are superior to weight machine exercises, but for the beginner using weight machines is a nice way to ease into the process of weight lifting, while also helping ensure you are using proper form. To get the best of both worlds, consider combining some free weight exercises with machine exercises.
Most people can easily learn how to do free weight exercises such as bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, and so on, but using a leg press machine before jumping into squats, a chest press machine before attempting bench press, and so on can allow you to obtain a greater comfort level while having that machine guidance.
Lastly, another common misconception beginners have is that they should be doing their cardio before they proceed to their lifting. This is actually backwards; cardio should be done after your weight lifting or in another session altogether. This is because of the fact that you want the most energy for your lifting since it's going to primarily depend upon muscle glycogen, while moderate cardio can utilize fat as fuel.
Doing your weight lifting first also ensures that you can put the most energy into the lifts, increasing the strength gains you realize.
So, keep these quick tips in mind. It's always a good idea to book a session with a personal trainer to get set up on your first program until you have a better understanding of all the concepts involved with weight training. After that point, you can start playing around with your own program, implementing advanced training principles to help kick your results up a notch.