Focus on form, for one.
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Trainer Larissa Nicole says strength training is the act of building muscle through resistance, whether you use bands, dumbbells, kettle or barbells, machines — or even your own bodyweight. To get started, read through these strength training for beginners tips from the pros.
The best strength training method is the one you enjoy most, says trainer Carrie Hall, CPT. Browse workout apps or fitness studios for the trainers and regimens you’ll be excited to keep doing.
Keep things simple in the beginning by focusing on bodyweight exercises like squats, push-ups, and lunges. “Sticking to these foundational movements is typically the safest,” Nicole says, adding that it lays the groundwork for more complicated moves in the future.
As you get stronger and more confident, you can experiment with weight machines at a gym, like the leg press or lat pulldown. Since machines are more controlled compared to dumbbells, Nicole says you’ll be less likely to overdo it or get injured.
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Don’t go all-out and set your machine to the highest setting or pick up the heaviest kettlebell. Hall recommends opting for lighter weights as you get started and then building up incrementally.
Whether you’re doing leg presses on a machine or bicep curls with a dumbbell, try to maintain proper form throughout the entire exercise. “This will ensure the correct muscles are being recruited, and more importantly, will help prevent injury,” Hall says.
To check your form, watch training videos on YouTube, download a workout app, or meet with a personal trainer at your gym. It’ll be worth the time and energy to ensure you’re doing each strength training exercise correctly.
It can be common for beginners to hold their breath while training, but Nicole says this habit creates unnecessary pressure within the core. The trick is to breathe out as you lift, and breathe in as you lower.
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While you may be tempted to dive right in, going to the gym every single day is a surefire way to overtrain and burn yourself out, Nicole says. Instead, aim for two to three strength-focused workouts a week, and you’ll see significant improvement in no time.