Tips for Beginning Weight-Lifters
1. Vocabulary: reps vs. sets. Reps or "repetitions" are the number of exercises within one set. For example, you may do 3 sets of 15 reps of lunges.
2. Breathing. Your "out" breath should be during the difficult part of the lift. Some lifters make the mistake of holding their breath while exerting themselves---that's a good way to get light headed, so don't do this! Think Lamaze.....breathe through the pain! And make your breathing deliberate--you may feel stupid at first, but it will get you through those last few reps you never thought you could do!
3. Counting your reps. Try counting backwards. For example, if you have 12 reps to complete, count your first rep as 12, then 11, 10,9.......and so on. You're might be more likely to see it through to the end of the set if in your mind you've only got 2 reps to go!
4. Vocabulary: superset. This means performing one exercise right after another and then resting after both are completed. For example, if you had a superset that paired bicep curls with tricep extensions, you would complete the curls, then go straight to the extensions and then rest. This is a time-saving mechanism in the gym because your biceps are able to rest while you're working your triceps.
5. If you're looking to build muscle and firm up, do your weight training before your cardio. This way, you have the most energy going into your training and will be able to make the most gains with lifting.
6. Work your large muscle groups and multi-joint exercises first. For example, squats work many muscles, where as leg extensions are limited to the quads. Do your squats in the beginning of your workout and leave your leg extensions until the end. This is true of single leg/arm exercises as well. Fatigue your big muscle groups first, then fine-tune your muscle development with your single leg/arm work at the end.
7. If you're pressed for time and you're forced to choose, pick lifting over cardio. Lifting will burn calories long after your workout is over and increasing muscle means increasing your metabolism so that you burn more calories even when you're just hanging out!
8. Lifting will not cause you to "bulk" unless you are eating to do so. This is particularly true for females because we do not make enough natural testosterone to bulk up. As long as your nutrition is in line, you will not look like a linebacker just because you lift heavily. So, put down the 2-5 lb. dumbells and hit it hard!
9. Nutrition is 80% of any progress you're going to make in your physique. Consult your trainer or dietitian for guidance in this area. Don't waste your time in the gym by not having your nutrition support your workouts!