Even if you’ve never picked up a dumbbell in your life, it’s always a good time to begin to explore the benefits of a weightlifting workout. Building up your muscle strength can boost your body in a variety of ways, such as increasing overall endurance, improving your bone strength and density and even strengthening your cognitive health and quality of sleep. But it’s important to note that first-time weightlifters should not just rush into performing bench presses and hang cleans. Here are five quintessential tips anyone new to weightlifting should remember before hitting up the gym:
1) Preparation is key
Just like any exercise, if you don’t adequately prepare before a weightlifting session, you can easily damage your body. For starters, get hydrated prior to hitting the gym. Muscles are 75 percent water, and if you haven’t been consuming enough of it in the hours leading up to a workout, cramps and fatigue will likely be on the horizon. Also make sure you get a nice stretch in before you even think about grabbing a weight. This will help keep you loose and flexible while you build up those muscles.
2) Take a crash course
One of the biggest mistakes beginning weightlifters can make is believe that they already have every technique and exercise figured out. Lifting weights isn’t as simple as picking up a dumbbell and throwing it over your head until your arms have had enough. There’s almost an art to it, and even tweaking your body in the slightest way can do wonders for building strength as well as avoiding injury. At the very least, as a new weightlifter, you should be doing research about appropriately performing strength training exercises, or potentially taking a few beginner’s classes at your local gym so you won’t be wasting your time trying to figure various workouts or equipment out.
3) Consider a spotter
Even if you’re planning on going to the gym alone, it’s important that you try to find a staff member of the gym to help spot you during weightlifting activity. This is not only to ensure your safety as you go for bigger weights, but also to make sure that your technique is being accurately executed. While you may be embarrassed at first to have someone spot you as you begin to weightlift, imagine how much more embarrassing it would be if you drop a weight bar or fall down by yourself. Also remember that dumbbells can be just as effective for strength training exercises, and you won’t necessarily need a spotter for those workouts.
4) Mix it up
Another common mess-up with new weightlifters is that they keep repeating the same type of exercises every time they hit the weight room. Constantly working on just one area of your body is an easy way to experience severe pain or nagging injuries, and you’re never doing yourself any favors if you’re only working on increasing solely upper or lower body strength. Each weightlifting session should be dedicated to a specific region of your body, so you can keep everything even and toned.
5) Know when to quit
If you’re new to weightlifting, odds are that you’ll feel a significant burn during or after your workout. Remember that there’s no point in overdoing yourself, and you should give your body at least a few days to recover after strenuous strength training. Also be sure to start out with lighter weights, and eventually build yourself up to higher numbers as you become more comfortable with your workout.