Weight training is an effective way to gain strength and endurance. However, if you're new to weight training, it can seem overwhelming. Walking into a weight room with no idea where to start will leave you feeling frustrated. Before you attempt a weightlifting workout, understand some of the general guidelines for making your own workout plan.
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Start every workout with an aerobic warm-up lasting five to 15 minutes such as running, walking, biking or swimming. Your warm-up should not be strenuous. Jog; don't sprint. The idea is to break a sweat and get your heart pumping and blood flowing. Warming up improves your lifting performance and eases you into your workout.
Your workout should target many different muscle groups. If you're training for a specific sport, learn which muscles to target for your activity. If you're lifting for overall strength, try to work as many of the major muscle groups as possible. Do exercises that strengthen your upper body, legs and core. Always start your workout with exercises that work multiple muscle groups. End with exercises that target specific muscles. As a rule of thumb, the more joints you bend to perform an exercise, the more muscle groups it works. For example, the bench press involves many muscles, whereas the biceps curl targets only the biceps. Try to include eight to 10 different exercises in each workout.
Repetitions, or reps, are the number of times you perform a specific exercise at one time. If you do 10 pull-ups, you have done 10 reps. Aim to do eight to 15 reps of each exercise. If you don't feel tired after 15 reps of an exercise, increase the weight. You should do fewer or more reps depending on your exercise goals. Doing fewer reps with more weight increases your power; doing more reps with lower weight improves your endurance.
Sets are the number of times you perform a specific exercise throughout your whole workout. If you do 10 pull-ups three times throughout your workout, you have done three sets. Aim to do one to three sets of each exercise. You gain the most strength during the first set of each exercise, so concentrate particularly on the first set. A second or third set can provide minor improvement. If your workouts run over an hour in length, you may want to decrease the number of sets you're doing to prevent yourself from burning out. If your workouts seem too short, you can either do an extra set of each exercise or find more exercises to include in your workout.
For each exercise, determine the maximum amount of weight you can do eight to 15 reps with. This may take some guessing and checking, but once you've found your baseline it's easy to remember how much weight to use. You should use the most weight for your first set. For subsequent sets, you may need to decrease the weight. Once you've been lifting for a few weeks, try to start gradually increasing the weight you use for different exercises. Push yourself, though don't strain any muscles. You'll be surprised by how quickly you gain strength, especially if you've never lifted before.
Figure out a schedule for your workouts. Try to lift at least twice a week, but never do the same lifting routine two days in a row. Your muscles need at least a day to rest and recover. If you have one workout plan that you follow each time you lift, simply lift every other day or every three days. If you want to lift more than three times a week, do different workouts on different days. For example, work your arms and legs one day and your core and back a different day.