One motivation for working out is to boost your strength. If you spend time exercising, you will end up stronger, faster and better than those around you. The more discipline you have with exercise, the more consistent your results will be. This series of tips will help you get the most out of the time you spend with strength training.
There are some people you will see at the gym who are loading up on the weight and working through their repetitions as quickly as possible. While they may look impressive, they are not getting anywhere near the maximum of their possible gains from the exercise. If you slow down and make sure that you go through the full range of motion, even if you are not lifting as much weight, your gains will be more complete. Following the full range of motion means that your muscles get the full range of work; moving slowly puts the stress on each individual strand of the muscle. The increased endurance that comes from holding the lift longer gives you more durable strength gains.
If you don’t warm up before picking up a dumbbell or lying down on a bench to lift, your risk of injury is elevated. About 15-20 minutes of cardio as a warm-up gets your metabolism rolling and keeps your blood pumping. If you spend that cardio time on a treadmill or an elliptical, every muscle group has more blood going through it, preparing it for the stress of strength training. Without this preparation, the initial exertion of lifting surprises your muscles. Because they are starting out cold, this makes pulls and strains more likely as a result of this first exertion. Warming up makes this less of a possibility.
Flexibility in your muscle groups is an important part of maintaining overall health and quality of life. Most of the time, we sit at our jobs in chairs that compress our calves and hamstrings. While the most fitness-minded of us may take breaks every 30-60 minutes and walk around to counteract this sedentary way of life, the simple fact is that the postures in which we spend most of our time take away our flexibility. To combat this, spend some time stretching twice a day. Your muscles will feel much better when they are pliable and flexible, with a little more blood flowing through them from the effort.
Your lower back and abdominal muscles are the center of your body’s strength and balance. The muscles on your torso manage your posture; if you are weak in that part of your body, the rest of your body has to compensate. With a strong core, you are free to focus on the muscle groups that your weights are designed to test. Take some time three or four days a week to build in core work.
Knowing what you are doing makes strength training more effective. Use the steps in this article to get the most out of your trips to the weight room.