Barbells, resistance bands, and free weights—oh my! To those who stick strictly to cardio-based workouts, the idea of introducing strength and weight training into your exercise routine may be intimidating.
Some questions that may come to mind include: Where do I start? What equipment do I use? If I’m a woman, won’t I get too bulky?
We’ve chatted with Aaptiv Trainer Mike Septh to get the low-down on weight training.
Here, he discusses how to start a weight training routine for beginners and proper rules of thumb to create strong muscle over time.
Debunking the myths
First, it’s important to lay to rest any myths that have been floating around regarding weight training.
For women, there is a common misconception that adding weight training to your exercise routine will create manly, bulky muscles.
According to Septh, this is not the case, “Women who weight train will develop lean, healthy muscle to their bodies. This will also cause their size measurements to shrink with the presence of muscle to help speed up the fat burning process. So, women will, in return, get smaller and toned, not larger and bulk[ier].”
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The same can be said about runners. Septh can’t count the number of times that he’s worked and trained with runners who feel like muscle building will add more weight to their bodies and inevitably increase their times.
“But, what runners don’t understand, is [that], in reality, runners who weight train will be faster. In addition, the muscle will prevent injury (since weak muscles [are] actually one of the most common causes of running prone injury) since their bodies are stronger.”
How to prep
Before beginning your weight training routine, Septh suggests eating beforehand versus after your workout. To optimize muscle building and fat burning, it’s better to eat an hour before you work out.
While eating beforehand suppresses your appetite and gives you the full-feeling longer, eating after a workout can cause overeating and indulging on food that your body doesn’t need, simply because it feels depleted of calories after a workout. Of course, be sure to refuel properly post-workout.
“Load doesn’t have to be the first interval,” says Septh.
Many people want to grab external equipment when beginning a weight training routine, but it’s more important to get the movements down first (using your own body weight), then bring in additional tools.
A perfect example would be to complete a full push-up before bench pressing a large amount of weight. According to Septh, a general rule of thumb is that “you want the movements to become second nature before adding any extra stress or weight onto your body.”
A lot of injuries happens because of improper form and lifting in excess. Initially, you should just use your own body weight, but have no fear because you’ll still see results.
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Exercises to try
Throughout an exercise, you want to focus on hitting four important movements: hip dominant movements, knee dominant movements, push movements, and pull movements.
“It’s important to include at least two of each,” says Septh. Here are several different examples of these movements to add to your next workout:
- Hip Dominant Movements: wall reach, hip bridge, high-box step-ups, and back extension.
- Knee Dominant Movements: squat, lunge, and low-box step up.
- Push Movements: push-up and plank.
- Pull Movements: pull-ups and tricep dips (can be considered more dynamic and can be included in push movements, as well).
Septh gave us the complete breakdown of how beginners should conduct their entire weight training workout. In phase one of weight training, “volume is key.” The workout is comprised of a four block system:
- A: soft tissue work—this includes stretches and foam rolling.
- B: core strength work —this includes three rounds of 15-18 reps and a 45-second rest.
- C: accessory work—this includes three rounds of 12-15 rep and a 45-second rest. Movements should be unilateral (one at a time), example left/right leg or arm.
- D: added strength or metabolic finish—this includes three rounds of 40 seconds with a 20-second rest.
- If choosing added strength, this should be your most strenuous strength work, for example, overhead carries.
- If choosing intense cardio, this should be comprised of exercises that speed up your heart rate, for example jumping rope or the rowing machine.
“We all have to start somewhere,” says Septh. While it may seem daunting at first, a weight training routine is easily adopted and your body will recognize the work in no time!
Plus, when you use your Aaptiv app, you’ll have expert trainers (like Septh) in your ear moving you through your workout, thus removing any intimidation that you may feel.