If you feel your body is not ready for strength training for any reason, talk to your physician. Here is a list of risk factors to help you decide if you should talk to a physician before beginning a strength training program:
any cardiovascular disease including chest pains at rest or exertion
family history of coronary heart disease before the age of 55
high cholesterol, generally above 200
abnormal ECG, or cardiac arrhythmias
any chronic muscular or joint problem
currently pregnant, or within 3 months of delivery
years of a sedentary lifestyle
10 Quick Tips To Help You Get Started:
Remember to warm up. Warming up gives the body a chance to deliver plenty of nutrient rich blood to areas about to be exercised, to actually warm the muscles and lubricate the joints.
Stretch - Increases or maintains muscle flexibility.
During the first week of starting an exercise program keep it light. Work on technique-good body mechanics and slowly work up to heavier weights.
Quick tips to maintain good body mechanics: go through the complete range of motion, move slowly and with control, breathe, and maintain a neutral spine. Never sacrifice form just to add more weight or repetitions.
The intensity of your workout depends on a number of factors, including the number of sets and repetitions, the overall weight lifted, and the rest between sets. You can vary the intensity of your workout to fit your activity level and goals.
Listen to your body. Heart rate is not a good way to determine your intensity when lifting weights, it is important to listen to your body based on an overall sense of feeling of exertion.
The MINIMUM amount of strength training recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine is eight to twelve repetitions of eight to ten exercises, at a moderate intensity, two days a week. You will get more overall gains with more days per week, sets and resistance, but the progression is one in which you must listen to your body.
Strength training session are recommended to last one hour or less.
As a general rule, each muscle that you train should be rested one to two days before being exercised further in order for the fatigued muscles to rebuild.
"No pain, no gain." This statement is not only false, but can be dangerous. Your body will adapt to strength training, and will reduce in body soreness each time you workout.
Strength Training Principles:
Overload: To see gains in strength you must always stimulate the muscle more than it is accustomed to.
Progression: The active muscle must continue to work against a gradually increasing resistance in order to meet overload.
Specificity: Gains you receive are dependent on the muscle group used, and movement pattern performed.
Strength (maximal force): If you are interested in strength gains you want to train with higher weights and closer to your 1 RM.
Endurance (submaximal force that is repeated): If you are interested in gains in endurance, you should concentrate on lifting lower weights and higher repetitions.
Warm-up - the warm-up should be "sport specific". In other words, if you are performing the bench press, begin your warm-up with a light intensity and perform 8-10 reps.
Stretch - it is important to stretch to promote increased blood flow to the muscles, and to increase flexibility, range of motion and decrease the risk of injury.
Workout - work larger muscle groups first, then smaller muscle groups.
Cool-down - keeps the body active and prevents pooling of blood in the extremities. The cool-down is done at a lower intensity.
Breathing: When lifting weight or working muscles against resistance, exhale through the mouth as you are performing the work. Caution: Failure to breathe correctly during heavy weight lifting may cause drastic increases in blood pressure that may be harmful.
A Basic Strength Training Program:
The American College of Sports Medicine Position Stand (1990) on "The Recommended Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory and Muscular Fitness in Healthy Adults" outlines several basic guidelines for strength training programs. "Strength training of a moderate intensity, sufficient to develop and maintain fat-free weight, should be an integral part of an adult fitness program. One set of 8-12 repetitions of eight to ten exercises that condition the major muscle groups at least 2 days a week is the recommended minimum." The following are example exercises for a basic strength training program: