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We will be starting our look at What is weight lifting for beginners with a rundown of the different areas. We will then look at the benefits of each type. Weight lighting for beginners is an excellent way to up the intensity of any workout and achieve fast results. Imaging walking, now imaging walking in a weight vest, Now with a 40Kg box in your arms. What a difference?
What is a Weight lifting routine?
Do not merely think of weight training as building muscles. It is different from strength training, where your focus is solely on building muscles. Weight training in the purest form is the use of weights while working out. As a side effect, you may build muscle, but you do not have to want to look like the hulk to start a weight training routine.
Weight lifting isn’t just about building muscle mass and bulking up; It has many benefits which we will look at below.
Freely movable weights are classified as Free weights. They can include dumbbells, Kettlebells, Sandbags, weighted skittles or even plain old rocks.
These are excellent at working the entire body and are the most versatile type of weight lifting. You can perform many exercises or variations added or subtracting weight as you require.
Free weights for lifting have been around since ancient humans picked up large rocks or boulders. The earliest “tests of strength” would have been to determine rank in primitive cultures consisting of whoever could lift a particular rock. If lifted it, they would have been deemed reliable enough and worthy enough to be named “chief’.
Free weights have become slightly more sophisticated over the years, yet are still the easiest and most economical way to build muscle through progressive training. Some would argue they are the purest form of weight training and therefore the best.
Properly using free weights offers advantages over weightlifting machines because the load spreads over several muscles; At no point in the lift does the machine “take over”.
Free weights are cost-effective; you can use them anywhere. For instance- when I used to travel and booked into a hotel that did not have a gym or exercise room, I’d use a pair of dumbbells that folded flat and filled them with water! Free weights allow for the widest variety of weight lifting routines with just a small set of barbells and plates.
Just about every significant weight training exercise can be done with free weights the addition of a weights bench. Your muscles get a better workout compared with most weight training machines. When using free weights, for instance, during upper body exercise, you can’t resist using your legs and back muscles to balance and stabilise the body.
Proper technique is critical when working out with free weights. Unfortunately, It is beyond the scope of this article to show you the proper safe technique for every free weight exercise. I would suggest joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer.
If that is not within your budget, start very light maybe with bodyweight exercises and always remember to exercise your body equally. Progress can be accomplished just as well by increasing the number of reps on a given routine as by increasing weight. You must provide time for your body to rest in order to build muscle.
Therefore, you need to rotate the muscle groups being used when you are using free weights and rest entirely at least one or two days a week. During rest, your body heals and grows.
Gym machines are great for beginners because they help support the weight during each movement. The risk is also reduced due to having your range of motion restricted. However, this “safer” workout minimises the use of smaller lesser-used muscles and allow higher weights to be lifted than if using free weights.
The main advantage of a gym machine is that you do not have to be as conscious of technique as such gym machines are excellent for beginners. Working out with free weights requires more expertise. Injuring yourself with an incorrect body position on a machine is less likely because basically, the machine positions and braces your body for you.
Machines are straightforward to use, require little or no training and the movements are “preprogrammed “. A fixed path is set based on the design of the machine and the muscle movement required. Most people can jump on any gym machine and use it correctly the first time. Simply reading the instructions with pictured diagrams affixed to most machines allows this.
Machines are perfect for weightlifters that have a limited range of motion. Many of the same exercises that can be performed with free weights can be completed with gym machines even if you have such problems.
Short and Intense
Many people feel that “circuit training” is easier on gym machines due to being easier to use. As such people use them for longer than they do free weights. Now some will argue that you get a better workout using free weights, and that may be true. However, Some people feel better about themselves if they can work out longer.
I say short and intense is better. Weight lifting is about feeling good about what you are doing, and progression is part of what it’s all about. As far as time goes, machines can be quicker to use because you don’t have to change barbell plates but simply shift a clip to change weight, Therefore, you can spend more of your time working out.
Preferred by Bodybuilders
Bodybuilders or strength athletes prefer gym machines due to being able to focus on specific muscles rather than working a more significant number.
If you are rehabilitating from an injury primarily of the lower back or shoulders, then the added support that machines provide can mean the difference between getting back into weight training or not. Also, machines are great for the “loner”. The loner who wants to work out with heavy weights and not worry about the dangers is ideally suited to use a weight machine. You can lift to the max on a weight machine with no fear of dropping the weight on yourself and causing severe injury.
Olympic lifting uses an Olympic lighting bar only with weight plates attached. It has some technical lifts which the beginner should be cautious about. I would suggest starting with light weights ( a Male 7-foot bar weighs 20Kg ), and as such, the use of training poles is advised.
The Main lifts are listed below which a short explanation of each.
- Front Squat – Squats with the Bar held across the front of your shoulders
- Cleans- Squat and Power
- Jerks – Push
- Snatch – Squat and Power
Now functional fitness and weight training go hand in hand. The lifting of weights is very beneficial in improving or maintaining lifestyle choices. The sedentary office worker who lifts weight to reduce his waistline or the older generation who want to stay active as long as possible. Lifting weight stresses your body in a way cardio doesn’t.
Running on a treadmill will no doubt make you fitter, but it will not help you carry the shopping or move the treadmill to another room if required.
Functional fitness is about enabling the body to move in as many natural ways with as little effort as possible.
Benefits of weight lifting
Weight lifting is, without doubt, the single most effective exercise you can do to improve health and general fitness. Its benefits include improved posture, better sleep, increases in bone density, weight loss, metabolism-boosting, Confidence building, lowering inflammation and staving off chronic disease.
Weight lifting will show improvements no matter what sport you participate in. It also improves the cardiovascular system and improves heart health. As well as strengthening bone density and preventing the symptoms associated with osteoporosis.
Anyone, old or young, short or tall can benefit and benefit significantly from weightlifting. I am not suggesting that lifting weights or weight training can reverse the signs of ageing, but it can slow the ageing cycle, make you feel fit and keep you fit at any age. Just ask Arnold Schwarzenegger, still going “strong” at 72.
Motivation to keep going is one of the hardest parts of any exercise program. Staying motivated is easier with weight lifting than the majority of other exercises. Motivation is increased due to being able to see and feel the results in a couple of weeks.
You will also witness an immediate increase in your strength, and this will not exclusively be in the gym. Still, suddenly all those grocery bags you carry home from the store, or your kids are going to feel much lighter. Increased power and strength will improve your enjoyment of any sport you play.
stronger arm muscles will allow you to throw further or lift more. More muscular lower body and you can run faster or jump further. Weight lifting and strength training also improve your stamina. Additionally stronger muscles and bones can take more punishment, so lifting weights will help prevent other sports-related injuries.
Improved posture, Better sleep
Weight training is proven to improve the quality of a person’s sleep. Most people feel great about their mood and energy in the morning. I’ve not met anybody who didn’t enjoy the changes they witnessed after a weightlifting routine. Women especially are seen to. Most non-exercisers who begin a program and can turn it into a habit begin to like, love, crave the gym.
Weight loss, Metabolism boosting
Most peoples metabolism slows as we age, and we lose lean muscle mass and bone density. This Loss of lean muscle mass leads to an even slower metabolism. This Loss becomes a vicious cycle leading to an overweight and sedentary lifestyle, which brings with it a whole host of other health problems.
Weight training will help you look fitter, And many people start lifting only to improve their physique and physical appearance. They do not even realise all of the other benefits one gets from a toned and defined body. Some fitness experts argue that Aerobic exercise is a far better way to improve cardiovascular health than weight training. Studies have shown that cardiac output increases during weightlifting. And of course, it is a physiological fact that the heart and lungs support muscle function. Taxing muscles during weightlifting ensures the support system is also getting a workout. That is why most fitness experts suggest that you engage in an exercise routine that includes a mixture of weight lifting combined with cardio. Adding cardio a few days a week raises your overall health and fitness.
Weight lifting is a great way to get in shape and stay in shape. But like any physical activity, weight lifting is not without some inherent risks. The good news is that by practising good techniques and observing proper safety precautions you can avoid potential injuries.
The most common injury related to weight lifting for beginners is a back injury. Almost all weight lifting related injuries occur due to improper technique or lifting beyond one’s limitations. If you are susceptible to back injuries or already have an injured back, you should avoid weight lifting exercises. The most common causes of back injury are Squats or Deadlifts.
For beginners, it is far less likely to use an improper technique that can result in an injury, by working out on a weight machine, than using free weights. If you do not have the opportunity to be adequately trained in the use of free weights, the machines are the way to go. A machine forces you into the right stance or body position for any given weightlifting exercise, and there is little possibility of an injury due to a dropped weight while using a machine.
Machine or freeweights
Whether you are weightlifting on a machine or with free weights, there are several other weight lifting safety precautions you can take. When you are using free weights, ensure you always use a spotter, particularly when lifting heavyweights. If no spotter is available, make sure to use equipment such as a Squat cage, or press bench.
These both have a place to rest the weights safely. Weightlifters lifting either with free weights or weight machines should use weightlifting gloves. Gloves ensure a better grip on bars and prevent blisters and other hand injuries. Support of the Hand and wrist with straps and wrist hooks will prevent injuries—similarly, knee braces and back belts.
Weight lifting shoes are a good idea to ensure proper balance and stability when lifting.
Also, make sure the equipment is properly functioning. Be sure all pins and clips are secure and in the proper place.
Be sure your workout area is free from obstacles and other potential hazards. Do not lift beyond your means; follow a logical progression of slowly increasing the amount of weight or reps. Avoid the temptation to “lift to your max”. Moderate soreness from any weightlifting session should be expected and is OK.
However, severe pain is not normal. If you are experiencing severe pain, stop what you are doing, you are no doubt doing something wrong.
And finally, probably the best way to weightlift safely, ensure proper technique, and avoid injury is to work with a certified personal trainer or join a gym.
If you are still unsure why not have a look at starting with bodyweight exercises? and if you wish to dig a little deeper into each muscle group why not head on over to one of the below posts
If you wish to discuss or have comments upon the points made, please drop a comment below.
Owner and author at shortandintense.com , 25 years as a quality and health and safety professional with an in-depth knowledge of functional and corrective exercises. IHoS registered,lead auditor, personal trainer and human movement specialist.