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Strength Training Tips for Beginners

by Yes Health

Strength training is a key piece of everyone’s weight-loss puzzle. It raises your resting metabolic rate (RMR) to help you burn more calories throughout the day, and it decreases your chance of injuries, allowing you to age with grace. But if you’ve never done strength training, it can be intimidating to know exactly where and how to begin. 

7 “getting-started” coach tips
  1. Check in with your doctor to make sure you’re “cleared” for specific types of exercise. (Strength training can lower blood sugar levels if hypoglycemia is a concern.)
  2. Always warm up before your workout, for example, walk for five minutes followed by some dynamic (movement-based) stretching. 
  3. Static stretching (where you hold each stretch for 30 seconds or longer) is important after each session.
  4. Pay attention to how your body feels and discontinue a move if you’re in pain.
  5. Allow 24 – 48 hours between strength training workouts to give your muscles a chance to rest and repair. (Alternating between strength and cardio days can be a good approach.)
  6. Have plenty of water on hand to stay well-hydrated before and after your workout.
  7. Keep your body well-fueled. (For some healthy ideas, check out our coaches’ list of the best pre- and post-workout snacks.)  

A great beginner’s strategy for maximizing your workouts (for both cardio and strength training) is a simple circuit: moving as quickly as you can from one exercise to the next (with minimal rest time between) and switching between cardio bursts and strength movements. This will increase your overall calorie burn while you fit in a great workout in a short amount of time. 

The benefits of strength training 
  • No equipment required
  • Increased muscle mass, which helps you burn more calories, even at rest
  • Weight loss 
  • Blood sugar control (e.g. when your body uses glucose from your bloodstream for fuel, it helps clear excess sugar from your system)
  • Improved flexibility and stronger joints, muscles and bones 
  • Increased endurance 

When you cross-train (mixing cardio with strength-training exercises), you also reduce your risk of injury and increase your motivation because you’re constantly mixing up your routine.

If you haven’t exercised in a while, try working in some simple strength-based movements at home. For example, 20 bodyweight squats (or 10-15 to start) every morning after you brush your teeth. Then add in 10-20 wall push-ups. (For proper form, do a quick search for “bodyweight squat form” and “wall push-up form” on YouTube.) When it starts to feel easier after a week or two, start adding additional moves. 

A beginner bodyweight circuit

Try this circuit 3-5 times with minimal rest between exercises and 2-3 minutes rest between each circuit: 

  • 10 bodyweight squats
  • 30 seconds of jumping jacks
  • 10 push-ups (or wall push-ups)
  • 20 alternating front, back or lateral lunges (switch it up each day)
  • 30-second plank hold (begin on your knees and move up to placing on your toes)
  • 30 seconds speed skater (or a modified lateral hop) or high knees or jog in place
  • 10 tricep dips on a chair or on the floor
  • (All of these exercises can be be modified to be more or less difficult as needed.)

Check out these links for more ideas:

The 9-minute Strength Workout (NYT)

https://www.nerdfitness.com/blog/strength-training-101-where-do-i-start/

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