Lifting weights is a great way to build strength and lose body fat. Your body burns more calories when you have more muscle, so you automatically burn more fat. You may not lose weight when you strength train, but that is okay! Muscle weighs more than fat but takes up much less room. You will look better in your clothes and you will be stronger! There are a few general principles to know before you begin weight training. These will set you up for success and help prevent injuries further down the road. Here are the three key principles to know before you start lifting weights.
1. Perfect Your Form
If you are new to weight training, the first thing to do is focus on perfecting your form. Instead of starting out with heavy weights, begin with lighter weights that are fairly easy to lift. You can do a lot of reps with these lighter weights because you can easily control them. The goal is to do so many reps that you burn the proper form into your nervous system. Your body needs a lot of practice to get the movement down, so you need to do a lot of reps. Once you do, you can then focus on lifting heavy weights with a smaller number of reps because you no longer need to think about proper form. This is incredibly important because it is very easy to get injured when lifting heavy free weights.
2. Mobility and Flexibility
When you work on mobility and flexibility, you are enabling yourself to get the most out of every workout session. Your body needs to be elastic enough to perform each rep with a full range of motion. Stretching and foam rolling are not a waste of time! If you do not increase your range of motion, you will eventually get injured. You can also increase your mobility and flexibility by practicing yoga. If you have not practiced yoga before, you may be surprised by all of its benefits. It is not just for relaxation or meditation. It is a great cross training exercise that will get you flexible and more mobile after just one session. If you go to an intense class, you will also get a great strength workout too!
After you have mastered your form and are actively increasing your mobility and flexibility, then it is time to focus on resistance. (Resistance is just another word for heavy weights.) You can now finally lift those heavier weights you have been eyeing at the gym. Make sure you only lift weights that you can control. You should be able to execute every rep with perfect form and a full range of motion. You will need to progressively increase your weight load or you will not see any change in your body or increase in your strength. However, do not progress to a heavier weight if you cannot control it. Go back down to the lighter weight until you are ready to move on.
If you are new to lifting weights, be sure to follow these principles in order. Do not worry about adding weight yet. Focus on perfecting your form and increasing your flexibility and mobility. Once you can do your reps with a full range of motion in your sleep, then you can begin adding weights. If you do not follow this order, you risk injuring yourself and not being able to lift at all. Be patient. Your body has an amazing ability to adapt. You will be lifting the heaviest weights on the rack soon enough.