Things people wished they knew before strength training
1. Strength training is for everyone.
To the women out there: don’t worry, strength training won’t make you bulky. And for parents worried about their kids wanting to hit the gym: rest assured, strength training won’t stunt their growth. There are many advantages of strength training that everyone, regardless of sex, age and fitness level, can benefit from, with a main one being that it trains functional movements that are essential for everyday life. For instance, doing squats helps you with sitting down, which gets increasingly harder as you grow older. Learning proper deadlifts will teach you how to lift heavy objects off the ground without injuring yourself. Frequent bending of the knee while doing lunges makes the knee joint more mobile, which is useful when it comes to everyday movements like climbing the stairs. Many things you do in everyday life are fitness-related, so fitness should train you for everyday life.
2. Focus on proper form first and always.
Master the form of exercises before thinking of adding weight. Proper form increases the effectiveness of these exercises while decreasing the risk of injury. A good way to start is to make sure you can do the exercise as flawlessly as possible without any weight at all. If you can’t do the exercise correctly without weight, how can you expect to do it right with weight? Even after you’ve started doing them with right, always check that your form is tip-top. There are several ways you can do this: get a trusted and experienced coach to check on your form, or, if that is not an option for you…
3. Know which exercise is supposed to activate which muscles, and make sure you feel it in those muscles.
For example, even though a deadlift is a full-body movement, if you do it correctly, you should feel it more in your hamstrings, glutes, and your back muscles. If you feel it primarily in your biceps, then you’re probably doing something wrongly. Find out which muscles you’re supposed to feel different exercises in and ensure they’re being used during the movement. This requires some body awareness, but the more you use your body, the more body awareness you will gain.
4. You don’t have to be sore for it to be a good workout.
Being sore has become a fitness currency that people wear as a badge of honour, but it is extremely misleading. Not being sore does not mean that your workout wasn’t effective. You’re most likely to feel sore after trying a new physical activity or increasing the intensity or volume of a current workout. This soreness presents as a dull, achy pain or stiffness in your muscles about 12-72 hours after the workout and is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Syndrome (DOMS). It typically lasts between 3-5 days after your workout (if it lasts any longer, you should definitely get it checked out). Once you establish a consistent fitness routine, you will find that you are not as sore after workouts, which simply means that your body is changing, not that your body has fully adapted to it and the exercise is becoming less effective. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need pain to gain.
5. Recovery is key.
Fitness is not just what you do while working out. Many things you do outside your workout like resting and getting enough water, proper nutrition and quality sleep are just as important. Strength training breaks down and causes microscopic tears in the muscles. Rest days, together with adequate water, proper nutrition and quality sleep rebuild them, allowing them to grow back stronger. Remember: muscles are torn down in the gym, but they need to be fed in the kitchen and built in bed. Fitness is in everything you do in your everyday life.