Why lift weights?
If giving you a bootilicious butt, wobble free thighs, toned arms and firm abs wasn’t enough. Weight training makes you stronger and less likely to get injured in everyday life. It also prevents osteoporosis and diabetes. Best of all, the lean muscle that weight training gives you turns you into a 24 hour fat burning machine.
Weight machines are great for beginners as you just pop the pin in and move the target body part. Dumbbells and barbells are known as free weights and require a better technique, but allow for a wider variety of exercises and use the smaller stabilising muscles as well as the larger muscles. Once you have confidence, there are kettlebells, TRX, Medicine balls and ropes to keep the resistance buzz alive and your body challenged anew.
To set up a simple program you need: 1-2 leg exercises (squats, leg press), 2 upper body exercises – one ‘push’ movement to work chest, front of shoulders and triceps (chest press) one ‘pull’ movement to work back, rear of shoulders and biceps (lat pulldown, cable row) and 1-2 abdominal exercises. This will ensure your whole body gets a workout.
Reps, sets & weight
Every time you complete one movement once eg a squat it is called a rep. If you do 20 squats or reps without stopping it is called a set.
Start by performing 1-2 sets of 12-20 reps of each exercise and work up to 3-4 sets.
Choose a weight that allows you to perform 12 reps with moderate effort. Progress over the weeks by working your way up to 20 reps on that weight, then increase your weight and reduce your reps to 12, working your way up again.
You can do ‘simple sets’ where you complete a set of squats then rest, then repeat, then rest before moving onto the next exercise. Or you can alternate sets of 2 different exercises without resting in between, then move onto 2 more exercises. Or you can circuit all your exercises and then repeat.
Rules to remember
Good technique is essential to reap the benefits and prevent injury. Bad habits are hard to break later on, so maybe invest in a trainer initially.
You can increase the intensity of your workout by performing more sets or reps, decreasing rest time or lifting more weight. Using a heavier weight for lower reps improves strength and a moderate weight for higher reps increases tone and endurance. But every weight must weigh more than your handbag or there is no stimulation and you are wasting your time.
By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & owner of The Health Hub www.healthhub.net.au
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