5 Tips for Safe and Effective Muscle Training
By Dani Taylor
Strength training is an essential part of every exercise routine. Even if your main focus is cardio work, you still need to supplement with strengthening exercises to help tone your muscles and avoid injury.
However, like all exercises, there are right and wrong ways to go about your regime. With strength training, bad form can make you lose efficiency and risk injury, meaning it is important to engrain good habits from the off.
How Much Strength Training Should You Do?
Current guidelines suggest that everyone should exercise the major muscle groups twice a week, with at least 48 hours of rest in between . These five muscle groups are the shoulders, arms, chest, abdomen, back, and legs. There is no need to exercise each group in the same session (although there's no harm if you do). As long as each muscle group has 48 hours between sessions, you can spread it out how you like.
Tips For Safe and Effective Muscle Training
Warm Up and Cool Down
Warming up before you exercise and cooling down afterward is vital to prevent injury. A good warm-up improves the flexibility of your muscles and prepares them for heavier lifting. The cool-down removes any built-up lactic acid and helps prevent muscle stiffness.
Try taking a quick walk, climbing the stairs a few times, or a few arm circles for your warm-up. You don't want to be out of breath afterward - it's just to get the blood flowing and your muscles ready. For your cool down, stretching is best to release the acid build-up. Stretch and hold the muscles you've worked on for a few seconds to reduce aches and pains.
Concentrate on Form Rather Than Weight
How you lift a weight is far more important than how much you lift. Focus on keeping good form through all your exercises, and move smoothly between each rep. If an activity is new to you, start without using a weight. Concentrate on aligning your body, and make sure you are comfortable before exerting yourself further. Not only does this make your routine much more efficient, but it also reduces the chance of injury.
Slow And Steady Provides More Benefit
It's easy to think that plowing through an exercise as fast as possible will give you the best results, but it's pretty inefficient. The quicker you go, the more momentum you carry into each rep and the less energy you use. Instead, focus on moving slowly through each routine. Take your time with each lift and feel the benefit on your muscles to reap the most rewards.
Increase Weights Slowly
The heavier the weight, the stronger you'll get, right? Unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. If you're doing a set of ten repetitions, then you need to be able to do all ten. If you pick too heavy a weight and struggle at lift number five, you will either fall short or risk injury. As a rule, you should tire by the last two repetitions. If it's more than two, consider dropping the weight slightly. If it's too easy, then it's time to shift up a level.
Let Your Body Rest
After a workout, your muscles must rest for 48 hours before the next session. Obviously, you can still do everyday activities, but you should limit strenuous exertion for a couple of days. When you do your workout, your muscles develop tiny tears. When these tears heal, the muscles strengthen, but if you use them too soon, you are likely to tear them further.
Strength training can give your body several benefits, but you must be careful and ensure you exercise correctly. Focus on correct form and don't push too far to get the most gain with the least risk. Let your body rest, and then enjoy all the benefits of a healthy body.