Pursuing my education has been an incredible journey as I learn about fitness, exercise and nutrition. Weight lifting is easily my favorite type of exercise and building muscle tissue has magnificent health benefits. Talking with friends and family, I uncovered one gigantic reason why weight lifting is often overlooked, and that is intimidation.
The intimidation of weight lifting is enough to scare anyone from lifting weights, and it’s something I personally sympathize with. To enter the gym and see Thor’s identical twin lifting heavy weight on a bench press is enough to want to cower in the corner. Happily, this article should help to alleviate the worries and intimidation of lifting weights by showing you how easy it really is. I’ll go over what you can expect from lifting weights for the first time and outline some introductory exercises.
The health benefits to lifting weights are many. Building muscle tissue can strengthen bone tissue as well as prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Lifting weights is also beneficial for lowering body fat percentage, lowering blood pressure, and helping with all kinds of daily activities. Adding weight lifting to your exercise routine will make carrying groceries or moving furniture just that much easier.
There are some safety concerns that important to understand before starting a weight lifting program. First and foremost, do not perform maximum lift exercises. Superman can easily bench 150 lb, but that doesn’t mean you should too. This may seem obvious, but recklessly jumping into maximum lift exercises raises your risk for injury. Instead, start with a lower amount of weight and let yourself progress. Beginners will often have muscle soreness after completing the exercise session because weight lifting causes the muscles to tear. This is absolutely normal. The soreness is the feeling before your body fully repairs muscles. Once your body repairs your muscles and the connective tissue, the pain subsides, and your muscles are slightly larger and incrementally stronger. It is important to give your muscles sufficient time to heal after a weight lifting workout.
Here are four different exercises that are great for beginning weight lifting:
1. Bicep Curls
Bicep curls utilize the biceps muscle in the upper arm.
Posture: Stand up straight and tall without slouching in the shoulders. Feet should be shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. Arms should be straight at your sides and head should face forward. Your abdominal muscles should be tight. In order to keep the abdominal muscles tight, squeeze your abdominal muscles while performing this exercise.
Movement: When bringing the weights up, elbows should still be in line with the shoulders and not turning out. Bring the weights up until they meet the shoulders and slowly lower the weights down to your side.
Breathing: Breathing is key in weight lifting. Inhale before performing the exercise and exhale when bringing the weight up to your shoulders. Inhale when bringing the weight down. You always want to exhale when performing the hardest part of the exercise.
2. Hammer Curls
Hammer Curls are essential for utilizing biceps and also muscles in the forearms.
Posture: Palms face in towards the body instead of out in front like a biceps curl. Weights are held vertically at sides instead of horizontally. Posture is very similar to the biceps curl.
Movement: Movement is also very similar to the biceps curl. When bringing the weights up, your elbows should still be in line with the shoulders and not turning out. Bring the weights up until they meet the shoulders and slowly lower the weights down to your side.
Breathing: Inhale before performing the exercise and exhale when bringing the weight up to your shoulders. Inhale when bringing the weight down. You always want to exhale when performing the hardest part of the exercise.
3. Overhead Triceps Extension
Overhead Triceps Extension utilizes the back muscles of your arms, the triceps.
Posture: Feet should be shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. Shoulders should stay lowered. It’s a tendency to want to shrug the shoulders when performing this exercise, but this puts immense pressure on the shoulders and increases risk of injury. Using a mirror may help so you can see if your shoulders will shrug.
Movement: As your elbows bend downward, move the weight lower down your back. I move the weight until it reaches my neck and maybe my upper back.
Breathing: Exhale as you move the weight down and inhale when you bring the weight back up.
4. Shoulder Fly
Shoulder fly works exercises the latissimus dorsi muscles in back.
Posture: To start this exercise, place one leg in front of your body. It doesn’t matter which one; which ever feels comfortable will work. I’m left dominant, so placing my left leg in front is comfortable for me. Bend your knee on your front leg. Put your hands together in front of your body so the weights touch. Your elbows will be bent and your body will lean forward a bit.
Movement: As you lift the weights back and away from your body, you want to feel your shoulder blades pinching together. Your shoulders should be back and not hunched over.
Breathing: Exhale when pulling the weights back and inhale when you bring the weights together.
Weight lifting doesn’t have to be intimidating! No matter what your skill level, anyone can lift weights. It doesn’t matter how much weight you can lift; what matters is that you’re getting the health benefits from this type of exercise. If superheroes (who aren’t aliens or mutants) can become super strong by lifting weights, you can too!
Disclaimer: I’m not a fitness professional as I’m still earning my undergraduate degree. This is the information I utilized from my classes to start weight lifting. If this is something you would like to try, I highly recommend seeking out a personal trainer for knowledge and safety first before trying these exercises.