Although I’ve been lifting weights for quite some time now, I’d like to give some weight lifting tips to beginners because I know it is very different than most exercises. In weight lifting it’s not about how long you work out. For example in many other sports and fitness activities such as cardio, running, swimming, surfing, etc. the longer you work out, the better. But with lifting weights, it’s about the quality of each rep. Of course, quality is very important in other forms of exercise, weight lifting requires complete focus on each repetition and it’s not about how long you lift but how each move is done.
Lifting weights requires focusing on the lifting of each weight (concentric movement) and the lowering of each weight (eccentric movement). Let’s say you’re doing a bicep curl. You’ve got the dumbbell or weight bar in your hands. You want to lift and contract your biceps as you curl the bar up and you also want to lower the dumbbell or barbell slowly as you bring it back down. This way you focus on both the lifting and lowering of the weight to get a complete workout; one that works your bicep and the opposing muscle (the triceps) too. Many people concentrate on lifting but just let the weight come down quickly with momentum and let gravity take over. This creates an imbalance in the muscles as the triceps aren’t being challenged. Eventually, this could lead to the look and feel (risk) of overdeveloped bicep muscles and weak triceps muscles.
With strength training, it’s not how long you work out. It’s about challenging the muscles. The most general rule is to lift until you can’t do another lift. For example, if you are doing squats. Squat in the proper form with an amount of weight that will allow you to do 8-12 reps (general rule) and on that last squat, make sure that you cannot do another squat. Then you will know that you have challenged your muscles.
Always remember to listen to your body. And on a last note for this blog, muscles have microscopic tears when you work them out. Muscles grow when you rest them. These microscopic tears, which are created when you safely challenge them in your bodybuilding workout, heal and form new muscle tissue (that’s the whole point of lifting weights – to gain more muscles) are achieved on your days of rest. So be sure to rest each muscle group after you work them out. In other words, don’t work the same muscles two days in a row.