Weight training (aka resistance training or strength training) can be extremely intimidating for most beginners.  Whether it's the gymtimidation from the "regulars" in the weight lifting area or just fear of the unknown, it's not easy to deviate from your typical cardio or yoga workout.  But the reasons to do so are immense.  In fact, weight training may be one of the best additions to your typical workout.  

Top 5 reasons to add strength training to your workout

1. Heart health

Resistance training lowers blood pressure and improves function of high-density lipoprotein, aka "good cholesterol" 

2. Build muscle

Strength training will reduce atrophy and sarcopenia which is the reduction of muscle mass

3. Bone health

Bones respond to resistance.  Weight lifting is a key way to maintain and build bone mass and possibly reduce chances for osteoporosis

4. Reduces anxiety and depression

Research shows low to moderate resistance training to be the most reliable and powerful anxiety reduction exercise

5. Decreases risks for diabetes and obesity

Weight training can improve the way your body uses insulin and simultaneously reduces your blood sugar

How much training should you do in order to achieve the benefits?

Beginners are recommended to strength train only 3 days per week.  The workout should be no longer than 45-60 minutes.  Any longer will be unbeneficial since your natural hormones needed for building muscle mass drop after an hour of training.  This can also cause you to lose strength by breaking down muscle tissue which may cause you to further over train. This can lead to decreased immune function and flu-like symptoms.  

Be aware of your body's response to the training and don't overdo it.  Give yourself 1 to 2 days rest between work-outs and focus on each muscle group once per week.

Monday - Shoulders and Abs

Wednesday - Chest, Back, Arms

Friday - Legs and Calves

What are some workouts that will be good for a beginner?

There are many variations of these recommended weight training exercises.  The basic form is noted next to the position.

3 sets of 8-10 reps with a 2 minute rest between sets (except Deadlifts are 6-8 reps)

Squats - lower hips from a standing position then stand back up - Can be done with or without a barbell

Rows - draw rowers arms towards the body, retract the scapulae and muscles that support the spine.  If done on a rowing machine, this will also strengthen the legs

Bench Press - trainee presses a barbell used to hold weights upwards while laying on a weight training bench

Deadlifts - loaded barbell or bar is lifted off the ground to hip level then lowered back to the ground

Pull ups - trainee pulls body up to chin level of a pull-up bar with a shoulder width over hand grip, then lowers the body until shoulders and arms are fully extended

Pull Downs - seated at a weight machine, arms are held overhead grasping a bar connected to the weight stack, feet flat on floor, pulls the elbows down in back, lowering the bar to neck before retuning to the original position

Overhead Shoulder Press - performed by standing with weights pressed straight up until the arms are locked overhead then returned to original racking position with balance maintained in legs, back and abs




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