9 tips for starting bodybuilding

Adding strength training to your fitness routine has many health benefits, but getting started can feel overwhelming. Should I use…

Adding strength training to your fitness routine has many health benefits, but getting started can feel overwhelming.

Should you use kettlebells or weight machines in a gym? How many repetitions should you do? How to start bodybuilding without injuring yourself? Even with all of this confusion, there are a few basics to get you started.

Here are some of the ways strength training can benefit your health and fitness:

— Boost sports performance if you are an athlete.

— Building and maintaining muscle mass.

— Improve balance, which can help reduce the risk of falling if you are an elderly person.

— Promote weight loss when combined with healthy eating and other physical activities.

— Halt or slow down age-related lean muscle mass loss.

— Support bone health.

Types of weights

What type of weight should you use if you’re new to bodybuilding? The answer may not be the same for everyone, as it depends on your goals, physical condition and budget.

Some options include:

— Dumbbells.

— Dumbbells.

— Objects around your house that can be used as dumbbells, such as cans of soup and gallons of water.

— Kettlebells.

— Resistance bands.

— Using your own body weight.

— Weight machines in the gym or at home.

Fitness trainers will have differing opinions on what equipment you should start with. Jessica Mazzucco, certified fitness trainer and founder of The Glute Recruit in New York City, advises weightlifting beginners to start with their own body weight, as it will help you get familiar with bodybuilding movement patterns and get a good workout. .

Using your own body weight is what happens with exercises like push-ups and lunges. Once you are in good shape, you can use free weights or light kettlebells. Although starting weights may differ for everyone, 5 to 20 pounds is a reasonable range, Mazzucco says.

For dumbbells, you can invest in a set of light, medium, and heavy weights to provide more challenge as you progress, says Jill Weinreb, trainer with Freehold, New Jersey-based fitness app WeStrive. There are also adjustable dumbbells that allow you to add weight as you wish.

You can also get creative. If you’re interested in dumbbells, you can start with a barbell with no side weights. If that’s too much, you can even use PVC pipe from a hardware store or a broom handle from your closet to get started, says Weinreb.

[SEE: The Best Exercises to Build Muscle and Lose Weight at the Same Time.]

9 tips for getting started in bodybuilding

— Use a trainer first if you can afford it.

— Always warm up.

— Learn proper form.

— Keep in mind the number of repetitions.

— Start with two to three strength training sessions per week.

— Balance weightlifting with heart-pounding cardio exercises.

— Change it when you no longer feel challenged.

— Listen to your body.

– To be coherent.

Use a trainer at the start if you can afford it

Use a trainer at the start if you can afford it

There is no substitute for a qualified trainer who can tailor advice to your specific needs and teach you how to use proper form to avoid injury. If you can shell out the money for a trainer, it can be invaluable, says Tommy Hockenjos, a trainer with the High Point, North Carolina-based fitness app WeStrive.

If that’s not in your budget, there are plenty of videos online that can walk you through the basics of weightlifting, Mazzucco says. Some videos are free, while others are part of low-cost health and fitness apps. The Mayo Clinic and a company called Catalyst Athletics offer free bodybuilding videos.

Always warm up

“I see training as a highway,” says Hockenjos. “The warm-up serves as an on-ramp where we prepare our bodies to go from 25 miles per hour to 65 during our workout. Then our cool-down serves as an exit ramp.

Warm-ups also help you avoid injury because you are more flexible. While warming up and cooling down are important, a 5-10 minute warm-up is more important if you’re short on time.

One idea for warm-ups is to start with only half your intended weight for an exercise and do 10 reps, advises Sergio Pedemonte, personal trainer and CEO of Your House Fitness in Toronto. From there, you can increase the weight by 10% to 15% and perform more reps until you reach your desired weight for the day.

A quick cool down could be as simple as holding a child’s pose — like the one used in yoga — for a minute, to help bring the body back to a neutral state, Weinreb says.

Learn the right form

A common mistake for new lifters is to lift too much impatiently and then injure themselves. Weinreb started with clients who lifted without any weight just to make sure their body was moving properly. She also asked clients to remove weights if their form was off.

Use your video resources or knowledgeable trainers to help teach proper form when weight training. You can also take a video of yourself performing reps to get a better idea of ​​your form, advises Pedemonte. If you can, film yourself from different angles. Compare that to the right form to see where you need to improve.

Getting enough sleep (which increases natural growth hormone production), eating a balanced diet (which should include a source of lean protein), and learning good form help prevent injury, Hockenjos says.

[ SEE: 12 Before and After Workout Tips to Boost Results. ]

Keep the number of repetitions in mind

There is no magic number of repetitions for beginners in bodybuilding. A common recommendation is three sets of 8 to 12 reps, Mazzucco says. You can do fewer reps and use no weight or lighter weight while you learn good form.

Dumbbells and heavier weights generally take a different approach, using fewer reps but challenging you with more weight on one or two of the final reps. Don’t force yourself to do so many reps that you always feel sore and exhausted at the end of a workout, says Mazzucco. This can often lead to burnout.

Start with two to three strength training sessions per week

If you’re completely new to strength training, even one session a week can eliminate some of the ill effects of a sedentary lifestyle, Mazzucco says. However, clinical evidence has shown that three sessions can help you build muscle and lose weight.

Try scheduling strength-training routines at least two days apart at first, so your body has more time to recover, recommends Pedemonte. You should always do other physical activities in between, but not strength training.

Since weightlifting is part of your regular training routine, you can exercise up to four to five times a week. Some people like to divide strength training into workouts that focus on upper body training one day and lower body training the next.

Others prefer exercises that challenge the body as much as possible in each session. If you have an area of ​​your body that hurts on a particular day due to the previous day’s workout, consider giving it a break to focus on another area of ​​the body for your current workout.

Balancing Weightlifting With Cardio Exercise That Pumps Your Heart

Weightlifting and cardio exercises both play a role in improving your overall health. Weinreb, who is a CrossFit trainer, likes to incorporate both weightlifting and traditional cardio exercises like walking or cycling into a workout — combining them is part of the CrossFit approach.

Other people prefer to train with weights on some days and do walking, running, swimming, or other cardio activities on the remaining days. Federal physical activity guidelines currently recommend 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity each week, which breaks down to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The guidelines also recommend two or more strength training sessions each week.

[ READ: Weighted Jump Rope for Weight Loss. ]

Change it when you no longer feel challenged

If you always lift the same weight for the same number of reps, your body will adapt and not change, says Weinreb. When you start weight training, watch out for plateaus that indicate you need to vary your weight training to add a new challenge. If you don’t have access to new equipment, see if you can at least vary the weight you use, she advises.

Listen to your body

Starting a bodybuilding routine doesn’t mean you’re a robot. Even if you make progress in your lifting, other factors can affect how much you can lift on any given day, says Pedemonte.

These may include:

– A poor diet.

— A change in your training time.

– New training.

– Bad sleep.

– Stress.

It’s okay if you lift less on some days than others due to factors like these.

To be coherent

Sometimes you can take the day off to grab a beer with a friend or spend time with your kids, Hockenjos says. You will always see progress over time if you are consistent in your training.

And, adds Pedemonte, “the best way to be consistent is to avoid injury and enjoy the process.”

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9 tips for starting bodybuilding originally appeared on usnews.com

Update 3/30/22: The story was previously published on an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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