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Guide to strength training for beginners

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Exercising is not just about weight loss. Some even aim to improve their strength through workout. As a beginner, you might find the strength training section of the gym quite intimidating. Don’t worry, as no one will expect you to go for the challenging ones in your first attempt. Initially, you will be encouraged to keep things simple. Here’s a guide for all the beginners who wish to try their hand at strength training.

HealthShots connected with fitness coach Sohrab Khushrushahi, who shared everything that all the beginners should know about strength training.

strength training
Get stronger by doing strength training. Image courtesy: Shuttersock

What is strength training?

Strength training is the performance of physical exercises that are designed to improve your strength and, in a way, endurance. It is primarily anaerobic training and is associated with the lifting of weights, explains Khushrushahi. It incorporates a variety of training techniques such as

• Bodyweight exercises
• Isometrics
• Plyometrics

It can increase muscle, tendon and ligament strength as well as metabolism. Among benefits of strength training, improving joint and cardiac function and reducing the risk of injury in elderly people and sports players are also there.

Beginner training exercises

These exercises are perfect for beginners because they help to build strength. These are also foundational movements based on which numerous other exercises are created. Nailing these movements and building a rock-solid base of strength and proper form, will translate to better proficiency and strength gains down the road, says the expert.

1. Squats

It is one of the purest tests of strength, and it uses almost all the muscles in your legs. The bodyweight squat, which is a good way to nail down your form, is a great way to start. Once your form is solid, you can add weights (tips to learn squats).

How to do it?

• Your stance should be shoulder-width apart. Make sure your feet are firmly pressed on the ground so when you generate force off the ground, you’re using your entire foot.
• Once you’ve established your stance, squeeze your butt, screw your feet into the ground.
• Shoulders and upper back should be tight with wrists straight and your elbows underneath or slightly behind the bar.
• Don’t start by bending your knees first. That tends to load your quads and may result in a bit of knee pain for a lot of people. Instead push your butt back and down, while keeping your back flat, your knees out and your shins vertical.
• Try and squat below parallel that is try to take your butt just below your knees.
• As you stand up, squeeze your butt and re-establish your starting position.

strength training
Push-ups for the win! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Push-ups

Being able to move your own bodyweight is a great sign of strength. If a regular push-up from the floor is too challenging, you can modify it by elevating your hands on a step or a table (how to do a push-up). The higher your hands, the easier the movement will feel, says the expert, who is founder of SOHFIT.

How to do it?

• To set up, kneel down and keep your hands at shoulder width with fingers pointing straight then sprawl your legs back, position your feet together and squeeze your glutes.
• Position your shoulders over your hands and screw your hands into the ground to create an external rotation force.
• Keeping your weight centred over the centre of your hands and your forearms vertical, start lowering into the bottom position.
• Lower into the bottom position and keep your butt squeezed, belly tight and forearms as vertical as possible. As you press out of the bottom position, try not to make any changes in your shoulder or spinal position.

3. Reverse lunges

Single-leg or “unilateral” exercises are vital in helping you get stronger since they can correct strength imbalances. It also helps you get stronger in your bilateral moves.

How to do it?

• Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and engage your core.
• Step backward with your right foot, landing on the ball of your right foot and keeping your right heel off the ground.
• Bend both knees to 90 degrees as you sink into a lunge. Make sure you engage your core and tuck your hips.
• Push through the heel of your left foot to return to your starting position.

Things that beginners should keep in mind while doing strength training

Doing muscle-strengthening exercises the wrong way is not good for you. Here are some things to keep in mind:

• Always warm up properly.
• Use proper form to avoid injuries and maximise gains.
• Never hold your breath while training
• Don’t be so eager to see results that you risk hurting yourself by exercising too long or choosing too much weight
• If you’ve been sick, give yourself one or two days off after recovering. If you were not well for a while, you might need to reach out for lighter weights or less resistance once you get back to exercising
• Strength training exercises should not cause pain while you are doing them. If an exercise or movement causes a lot of pain then don’t do it.



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