Starting a Strength Training Program
Strengthening exercises provide many health benefits, but when you do them incorrectly, you are at risk for injury. If you are a member of a health club, ask a fitness professional to show you how to safely use the weight machines and free weights. For many people, a group fitness class is also a good option for learning strength exercises and performing them correctly.
Some people prefer exercising at home. If you plan on this, it is a good idea to schedule a few sessions with a certified personal trainer to make sure you know how to do the exercises correctly. An exercise professional can also help you design a strengthening program that will meet your needs. Home exercise videos are another way to combat exercise boredom and maintain proper form and technique.
An Effective Strength Program
A general guideline for improving strength is to exercise each major muscle group at least twice a week. For example, you could focus on total body strength training two days out of the week, or you could break it up by doing your lower body and upper body on alternate days.
Be sure to rest the muscle group you have worked (shoulders, for example) for a full day in between strength sessions for that muscle group. So, if you prefer total body strength training, the day after your strength train day should be either a rest or aerobic conditioning day.
Your program should include exercises for all of the major muscle groups. Muscle imbalances are a major cause of injury.
Three sets of 12 repetitions has long been the standard for effective strength training, and is still a helpful guideline. But if finding time to exercise is a challenge, you may be able to improve your strength with fewer repetitions. Recent research shows that most people see results from one set of 12 to 15 repetitions, as long as they are pushing their muscles to fatigue.
Regardless of the number of sets, be sure to choose a weight that is heavy enough to fatigue your muscles in 12 to 15 repetitions. As the exercise becomes easier, gradually increase the level of resistance.
As you become stronger, it may become more difficult to measure the strength gains you make. Try adding new exercises or equipment to your regimen to keep your strength workouts fresh, engaging, and effective.
If you have a chronic health condition, are overweight, a smoker, or are middle aged or older and have never exercised, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Need More Information On The Benefits of a Strength Training Program?
For more information, contact Active Orthopedics and Sports Medicine with offices throughout Bergen and Essex Counties to schedule an appointment today. We can be reached at 1-844-ACTIVE-ORTHO for 24-hour emergency care.