In Part I we took a look at several vital tips in order to get involved in strength training this year. In part II, we’ll throw a few more tips your way to really make sure you have the tools to be the best “you” this year.
This tip is less about doing exercises that will improve your actual balance and more about your approach to strength training. The most common exercises you’ll see in the gym end up working the “mirror” muscles, meaning that you’ll see exercises that only train areas you can see in the mirror. This is an ineffective and potentially hazardous approach as it can lead to issues down the line.
Make sure your strength training program has a balanced approach. For example, if you do a pushing exercise, say chest presses, you want to compliment that with a pulling exercise like a dumbbell row. In addition to doing exercises that have a balanced approach to your muscles, you want to make sure you don’t go hard or heavy every single day. Mix up your rep ranges.
Don’t Kill Yourself
Probably the most important tip in this entire article, you want to avoid killing yourself. It’s almost a badge of honor for people to crawl out of the gym or be so sore you can’t move. That’s not the point to strength training. You may feel sore, but you still need to function. Avoid the need or desire to crush yourself. and realize that some days, you may actually feel great leaving the gym. Repeat that to yourself.
“I don’t have to crawl out of the gym to feel like I got a good workout.”
Soreness does not necessarily indicate a good workout nor does it indicate progress. What it does mean is you provided a new challenge or stimulus to your body and your muscles. You may feel “hardcore” today, increasing the pounds, increasing the intensity, but if you can’t walk or raise your arm above your head the next day, how did you get stronger? How do you expect to get the most out of your work out the following day?
The key is to use intensity wisely. Find a delicate balance between going all out all the time and taking it easy. Be a little uncomfortable, but you’re going to have to get used to how your body feels day to day, week to week. Learning those subtle cues, sensations and signals can help you figure out when to go hard and when to back off a little.
Consistency and Perseverance Conquer All
Similarly, Benjamin Franklin once said “Energy and Conquer All.”
Strength training isn’t something to take lightly, pun intended. Getting strong means being consistent with the process and letting your body adapt to the new stimulus each workout presents. The more patience you show and the more consistent you are, the bigger the reward you will see in the end.
Plateaus will happen, as they do with any lifter, and there are going to be days were you feel tired or weak. We’ve all been in that situation where you just don’t think you can get any stronger or any better. When you hit that point, push on. Adjust your plan and avoid that little voice inside that says to quit.
The body adapts at its own pace.
Recovery, Recovery, RECOVERY!
Progress in the gym can only come from what you do once you leave. It’s putting demands on your body in the gym, and giving your body the rest, fuel, and self care it deserves outside of the gym. This means sleep, eating, & self care like SMR or massage. Restful sleep is where the body does all its repairing and regrouping. Getting a great nights rest in between bouts of exercise can make the difference between having a great workout and a poor workout.
EAT! Eat to perform. It’s easy to get hung up on restricting calories because that’s what you’ve always been told to do. But in order to build strength, your muscles need fuel. If your goal is to lose weight, you want to avoid restricting your food intake so much to the point that your workouts suffer. If you can keep track of your strength numbers, it will be easier to track if your workouts are suffering while you are dieting. Oh and hydrate yourself!
Strength is the ability to do today what you previously couldn’t do a week, a month, or a year ago. Use these tips to help you not only start a strength program, but to maintain and gain more strength.