If you are new to weight lifting, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the machines and benches in the gym. You might see a jacked person doing a hundred different exercises all for one muscle group. Maybe, they’re doing so much weight you can’t even fathom lifting without getting hurt. Today, I’d like to help with some of those concerns.
Focus On Full Range Of Motion
The biggest takeaway you can have from this article is technique. Above all else, you should always make sure you are taking your workout through a full range of motion. No cheat reps, or partial reps. If injury is a big concern, most lifters usually get injured because either the weight was more than they could handle or their form wasn’t perfect.
Only choose a weight you can safely take through a full range of motion, and always end 2-3 reps shy of failure.
Priming Your Body Before a Workout
The second most important thing is making sure you are properly warmed up for your workout. That means, choosing 2-3 mobility exercises for each major muscle you are hitting that day, and using them to “wake up” that muscle for the session. This will further allow you to minimize the chance of injury, by properly cueing your connection to the muscle so that it will allow for proper form later in the workout.
Full Body Workouts
A beginner just starting out, doesn’t need body part splits. Muscle growth occurs for beginners with 8-10 total weekly sets per muscle group. The research has also shown, those 8-10 sets provide better results when spread over 2-3 days vs doing it all in one day. We’re looking for enough of a stimulus to target the muscle and maximize muscle protein synthesis. That signal drops after 48-72 hours so it makes sense to hit that stimulus again once it is down.
You don’t need to be in the gym all hardcore 5-7 days a week. Again, we just want to stimulate the muscle. More isn’t better, and you can risk overtraining a muscle if you do too much too soon. 2-3 days a week allows you to maximize that muscle building signal we spoke about earlier and allow for the best growth starting out.
Progress and Mind Muscle Connection
Progression can come in 2 forms. You are either doing 5lbs more than the week before, or 1 more rep than the week before. Just make sure you are doing at least one. Sometimes both will occur, especially as a beginner. If nothing changes, then your body will not change. It needs to progressively get heavier over time in order for more muscle to be created to combat that stimulus.
You Don’t Need to Train to Failure
As mentioned before you don’t need to hit failure on every set. In fact, you always want some reps left in the tank. By doing your sets 2-3 reps shy of failure you reduce the risk of overworking your central nervous system. If you spend every single workout maxing out your lifts, you will burn out quickly. Research shows as long as you are around 80-85% intensity on your reps you will promote just as much muscle growth, if not more than trying to max out and not recovering enough.
Making Time For Time Off
I know we all want to add muscle. But we can’t do this indefinitely. Every week we consistently stay on a routine the accumulation of fatigue builds. At some point you may notice your progress plateau. This is usually a sign that you are hitting a threshold of potentially overtraining and under recovering. You want to take a deload week off in this case. Take 1 week of a deload which involves doing 50% of everything (weight used, sets, and reps). It’s enough to get a light signal, but not tax the body. Then start a new training block using weights you might have used in week 2 of your previous cycle and start the process over.