Weightlifting: Train, Don’t Strain

weightlifting train dont strain DN

Are you into weightlifting or interested in giving it a try?   It is a great form of exercise that will help you lose weight, strengthen your bones and muscles, and boost your energy levels. However, if you’ve never tried it before you may be a little hesitant due to the following factors:

  1. You have no idea where to begin. Right now, the fitness facility looks more like something out of the Spanish inquisition than a means of well-being.
  2. You are fearful of the “no pain no gain” people that seem to frequent exercise establishments.
  3. You are afraid of getting injured, or worse…..dying!
  4. You feel that you do not have enough time or energy to put into exercise.

Over my career as a personal trainer, I’ve dealt with many people who were intimidated by the gym. Yet, they all learned there was nothing to be afraid of. Resistance training, often called weightlifting, can appear confusing. However, it doesn’t take long to figure it out and feel right at home in the gym.

Here is some advice to help you along. Did you know there is a sensible way of going about exercise that will not cause excessive stress on the body, but still give you the results you are looking for? Forget about spending hours in the gym—it is unnecessary and counterproductive. Here’s the truth, in as little as 15 minutes, 3-days-a-week, you can accomplish great gains with minimal risk. Interested? Here’s how:

  1. Take a little time to learn about some different exercises and techniques. Find a book or trustworthy website that teach proper form. If you need some extra motivation, consider hiring a personal trainer just to get you started.
  2. When developing your exercise routine, be sure to pick an exercise for each of the major muscle groups: chest, upper back, shoulders, biceps, triceps, legs, abdominal, and low back.
  3. Once you have your list, head to the gym. For each exercise, perform one set of repetitions until you feel like you have had enough. At first you will most likely be very kind to yourself which is fine. It is still better than what you were doing, which was nothing. As you get more comfortable, start raising the intensity by doing more repetitions.
  4. Twenty repetitions is a good goal to work towards. I find this number fits well into most people’s comfort range. Once you are able to accomplish 20 reps, move up to the next level. When you do, shoot for 12-15 repetitions since the weight is now heavier. Again work with the weight until you accomplish 20 reps, then you’ll be ready to move up again.
  5. As you train, focus on maintaining good form. Also, don’t blow through your repetitions too fast. It is better to do your reps with a slower motion (2 seconds on the contraction, 4 seconds on the return) than to jerk or slam the weights. Remember, you are not in a weight lifting competition—you are exercising.
  6. Keep in mind you are not just training your body, you are training your mind as well. A large part of weight training is psychological. Most people can do a lot more than they think, but they need to build the confidence to push themselves.

One of the benefits of using the concepts above is that you will not get into muscle soreness that typically haunts those who over-train. Soreness is caused by doing too many sets of exercise wears away at the connective tissue causing micro trauma to the tissue. It is not caused by lactic acid trapped in the muscle as is commonly believed.

That’s about all there is to it.  Try this approach for 2 months and you will be amazed at the changes. Weightlifting isn’t hard. Just remember to train rather than strain.

Dick Nunez FT

Director of the Black Hills Health and Education Center, and professional body builder.

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