The Fitness Zone
Weight training has numerous benefits for beginners, says David Mitchell, Australian Institute of Fitness WA Fitness Lead Coach. But if your clients aren't so sure, use these points to convince beginners that weight training isn't just for getting bigger muscles.
Benefits of weight training
- Improves muscle strength and tone
- Protects your joints from injury
- Helps maintain flexibility and balance
- Gives you greater stamina
- Can prevent or control chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, back pain, depression and obesity
- Good for pain management
- Improves posture
- Increases bone density and reduces risk of osteoporosis
- Reduces body fat
- Improves sense of wellbeing
- Increases self-esteem
- Enhances performance of everyday tasks.
What age to start
You can start training at any age, but young children don't need structured weight programs. Think of all the games you used to play as a child, like hop scotch, monkey bars, wheelbarrow races and tug of war. Play them for 30 mins and you'll get an awesome full body workout.
It's important not to overdo training in the teenage years as it can lead to development problems. Having adequate time between your sessions and not lifting to failure is necessary for adolescents.
Things to remember when starting a weight training program
- Lift an appropriate amount of weight: Start with a weight you can lift comfortably 12 to 15 times. As you get stronger, gradually increase the amount of weight.
- Use proper form: Learn to do each exercise correctly. The better your form, the better your results and the less likely you are to hurt yourself. It can be a common mistake for people to try and lift too much weight and lose technique, which can lead to injury and the correct muscle not being worked as efficiently.
- Breathe: Breathe out as you lift the weight and breathe in as you lower the weight, holding your breath can lead to dangerous increases in blood pressure.
- Seek balance: Work all of your major muscles abdominals, legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms. Also strengthen the opposing muscles in a balanced way. Having an imbalanced program can lead to posture problems such as rounded shoulders and lower back problems.
- Rest: Avoid exercising the same muscles two days in a row, as your muscles will need to rest and repair after a weight session. Have at least a day off from training that muscle group again.
- Control: Move the weight in an unhurried, controlled fashion. Taking it slow helps you isolate the muscles you want to work and keeps you from relying on momentum to lift the weight.
Happy weight training!
About David Mitchell
David is a Fitness Lead Coach at the Australian Institute of Fitness in WA.