So you want to get strong, and you have no idea how to start…
You probably feel overwhelmed, and you’re thinking to yourself, “dumbbells, push-ups, squats. These are terms I’ve heard before, but how do I combine them into a workout to get in shape? HELP!”
We’ve got you.
A strong body is a healthy body. And there are lots of ways to make lifting weights more effective.
You know you should be strength training regularly, but let’s be honest: starting a whole new way of working out can be daunting. It’s the reason so many people stick to the same old habits. We understand that this stuff can seem intimidating, and if you don’t know how to get started or are looking for more specific instruction, we have you covered.
But enough of that, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to get started with Strength Training!
HOW WILL YOU BE TRAINING?
The first thing we need to figure out is what kind of strength training you want to be doing. This will primarily depend on what equipment you have available and what your goals are. Let’s go over the options:
BODY WEIGHT TRAINING
The first option is bodyweight training. With bodyweight training you need minimal equipment (or none at all), and you can train from anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re at home, in a hotel, at a playground, in your office at work, or traveling around the world, as long as you have enough space to move around, you can get your workout done (and fit it into a busy schedule).
If you’re bodyweight training, grab a pull-up bar or a TRX system. If you’re just starting out, use an exercise band to help assist you with movements such as pull ups or dips.
However – none of these are necessary, you can easily do bodyweight training without any equipment at all. The challenge to bodyweight exercises is that you will need to consistently modify the exercise’s difficulty in order to ensure you are leveling up and progressing.
Dumbbells are a great way to start out with weighted strength training for a few reasons. First, most gyms will have a good set dumbbells, even if it’s a basic gym in your apartment complex. If you want to train at home, you can get a set of adjustable dumbbells that don’t take up a ton of space.
Second, dumbbells make it easy to add a small amount of weight to a movement, and dumbbell exercises can seem less intimidating than barbell training. On top of that, starting with a 45 lb barbell might be too much weight at first. Dumbbells also have an added stabilization challenge, and point out muscle imbalances pretty easily.
If you can’t finish a rep, it’s much easier to drop a dumbbell than it is to drop a barbell. As a newbie learning the movements, this might be helpful.
The biggest challenge about dumbbells? You may outgrow whatever set you purchase fairly quickly, and heavy dumbbells can get costly. A gym membership with dumbbells that go up to (or over) 100 lbs should help solve this problem.
The barbell workout is a personal favorite. If your goal is strength above all else, this is the option that we recommend. Barbells allow you to progress clearly and quickly, allowing you to add small increments of weight each week.
Because a barbell is incredibly stable (using two hands instead of just one with a dumbbell), it’s also much easier to go heavy – especially for lower body movements like the squat and the deadlift. For exercises like the squat or the press, you can use racks to safely load and remove heavy weights.
The biggest challenge to barbell training is that in order to do it at home, you need to have a squat rack, a barbell, a bench, and enough weight in your house or garage (which is not an inexpensive investment when you’re starting out).
If not, you definitely will be needing a gym membership.
WHICH IS BEST?
So what is the best form of strength training? Realistically, it’s whichever one that you will actually do. Barbell training may be optimal in terms of increasing strength. Likewise, bodyweight training might seem convenient, but if you don’t actually motivate yourself to workout at home, you might need to come up with a plan B – like a workout buddy or personal trainer.
Many times, we will pick the right workout to match our situation. When we’re traveling, we’ll do a ton of bodyweight workouts since we don’t necessarily have a gym and a barbell available. When we’re at the gym, you better believe every morning the first thing we do is get under a barbell and go heavy.
At the end of the day, it’s what ever works best for you. But ultimately, you never want to walk into the best gym in hamilton without a game plan. We want to avoid that wandering “sheep without a shepherd” strategy that doesn’t produce results. We help most of our members overcome that challenge with our individual Workout Programs.
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