Did you know that more than 80% of adults don't meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities? This statistic is caused by a number of factors, the most significant of which are a lack of time, motivation, or understanding. We can't help with the first two, but we can certainly explain some of the basics to get you started in your strength training fitness journey.
One of the hardest parts of getting started on an exercise routine is not knowing what's best for your body. Gyms and fitness centers can be a little overwhelming with all their machines, barbells, and weights. To smooth some of the strength training stresses, check out these tips on how to choose the right weights.
- Your weight should make you work for those last few reps. Your first time lifting weights will be a fitness experiment. Pick a weight and give it a try; if you're struggling to complete the last few reps -- without compromising your form --, you've chosen the right ones. You should be able to keep the correct form right up until your last rep (but not much longer).
- Your weight is too light if you don't start to struggle during those last few reps. This is a trial-and-error process. If you choose a weight that is too light, you'll end up cruising through the workout without truly being challenged. A weight that makes you feel like you'll have no problem getting to the end is too light.
- Listen to your body. Every body is different, which is precisely why you shouldn't compare yourself and your weight choices to other people. If you're just started out, it's more important to focus on your form than increase your weight level; it's certainly okay to challenge yourself, but you shouldn't feel forced to keep up with those repping 50-pound dumbells. Pay attention to what your body is saying. If you're breezing through a workout, add some weight; if you're feeling sore and exhausted, scale it back a little.
Strength training doesn't have to be a nightmare; once you get started and learn the basics, you'll be feeling stronger and better in no time.