Weight Training Crash Course For Beginners

By Travis Van Slooten

Weight lifting for beginners can be overwhelming. There is so much to learn and there are so many resources available to get help from. Where do you begin? While it's true there is a lot to get your hands around when it comes to the world of weight lifting, I want to provide some basic tips to get you started on the right foot.

Before we discuss the basics to make weight lifting for beginners easier, let's talk about the human body for a minute. There are three main body types: endomorph, ectomorph, and mesomorph. Each body type has its own unique charasterics. A person with an endomorph body type is considered to be carrying around too much fat and tends to have trouble losing weight.

Someone with an ectomorph frame does not have enough fat or muscle and has a tough time building muscle or gaining weight. A mesomorph is perhaps the ideal body type with a well-formed body and can gain or lose weight fairly easily.

Understanding what body type you have is important so that you can set realistic weight lifting goals. An ectomorph, for example, is going to have a tough time putting on muscle and will probably never look like Arnold schwarzenegger in his prime (who has a mesomorph body type). You can't get a sedan to perform like a sports car and the same is true of our bodies so the first thing the beginner should do is set realistic goals.

After setting realistic goals, here are some basic tips that will make weight lifting for beginners easier, safer, and more effective:

Understand the Lingo

The lingo can make Weight lifting for beginners confusing when they first get started. The two basic terms that every beginner must know are "reps" and "sets." A rep is simply one exercise, or movement. For example, doing one pull up is considered "one rep."

Consecutive reps without a rest form a set. For example, "10 reps" of doing pull ups is "one set." So if a weight lifting routine that you've come across calls for you to do pulls ups of "3 sets of 10," you'll know that means you need to do 10 pull ups, three times (3 sets) - with rest in between in each set.

Consider Hiring a Personal Trainer

If you're tight on cash, don't pass by this tip so quickly because personal trainers aren't as expensive as you might think. I'm not talking about hiring a personal trainer full-time. Hiring a personal trainer for one to two sessions can go a long way in getting you off to the right foot and making weight lifting for beginners safer and more effective.

A personal trainer can show you how to correctly execute your weight lifting exercises to prevent injuries and to make sure you are working the muscles properly for the best results.

They can also correct any bad habits you might have developed. Weight lifting for beginners can be so simple with just one or two sessions with a personal trainer so consider it if your budget allows.

Avoid Spending Too Much Time in the Gym

A lot of guys make the mistake in believing that if they start seeing results with just 45-60 minutes in the gym, then more time would reap even greater results! Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, overtraining of any kind can actually hamper your results. Spending too much time exercising can wreak all kinds of havoc in the body.

For example, after about an hour of rigorous exercise, levels of the hormones in your body responsible for muscle growth start to diminish. Other hormones, such as cortisol, are released instead and they can actually destroy muscles and ruin all your hard work. Instead of getting bigger, you may actually get smaller! Weight lifting for beginners should not require more than 60 minutes in the gym per session. Beginners can achieve results with as little as 30 minutes of weight lifting per session so long as the session is focused and the exercises are done correctly.

Be Focused When You're at the Gym

Nothing drives me nuts more than seeing a guy reading a newspaper in between sets. I want to smack the guy in the head and ask him if he's here to read or lift weights! Save the paper for after your workout. When you're at the gym, stay focused on the task at hand and you'll get better results and you'll spend less time in the gym.

A lot of guys who say they lift for more than an hour, probably spend half the time talking with other people or reading newspapers. If you have that kind of time, then go for it. For me personally, I don't like to spend a lot of time in the gym. I like to get my work done and get out of there.

Concentrate on Large Muscle Groups

There are so many different exercises to learn that weight lifting for beginners can be down right overwhelming. The best thing the beginner can do is concentrate on exercises that will work the large muscle groups. These groups include the legs, chest, and back. You'll get more bang for your buck spending your time doing weight lifting exercises that work those muscle groups.

The more muscle mass you build, the more fat you'll burn throughout the day. Since these are large muscle groups, it makes sense to make them bigger so you can burn more fat! These are also the muscle groups that will be the most noticeable to others. What woman doesn't notice a guy with a well-formed "V-shaped" back or muscular legs in the summer when you're wearing shorts? Let's not forget about the chest.

The chest is one of the first muscle groups everyone notices! As a beginner, don't waste your time with small muscle groups because those muscles don't do nearly as much fat burning and they're not nearly as noticeable to others.

Eat a Balanced, Healthy Diet

Weight lifting for beginners is more than just pushing iron! A poor diet will prevent the beginner from achieving significant gains. The body you have today is the result of what you have been putting in it for the past several months. Get plenty of protein, carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids and limit junk food, sugars, alcohol, and fast food.

Get Plenty of Rest

Again, weight lifting for beginners is about more than just pushing iron. Along with a healthy diet, you need to get adequate sleep. Believe it or not, but your muscles repair themselves and grow when you sleep - NOT when you're at the gym lifting. If you're not getting enough sleep, you're not giving your muscles enough time to repair and grow. Furthermore, if you're not fully energized when you hit the gym, how effective do you think your lifting will be? I can lift a lot more weight and I can push myself harder when I've had a good night's sleep. Aim to get eight hours of sleep every night.

These are the basics that should make weight lifting for beginners easier, safer, and more effective.

Copyright 2005, Men's Total Fitness

Travis Van Slooten is the founder and editor of http://www.mens-total-fitness.com - a site dedicated to putting together the most accurate information and proven techniques to help men lose weight and build muscle naturally. He publishes a free monthly newsletter, available at http://www.mens-total-fitness.com/newsletter.html




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