Getting into strength training can be intimidating, but don’t let your preconceived ideas stop you. The benefits of strength training are endless!

Whilst increased strength and muscle growth is a common desired outcome, there are lots of different reasons to lift weights, such as:

  • Improving athletic performance
  • Increasing movement efficiency and function
  • General metabolic health
  • Body composition management (eg muscle > fat)
  • Bone density and tackling signs of aging

Remember, strength training doesn’t always result in bulk! Depending on how you train, it can provide you with a lean physique, or help to build certain areas, such as glutes.

Whatever your goal and your reason for becoming stronger, here are 5 top tips to ensure that your transition to strength training is safe and effective.

  1. Treat Your Strength Training as a Practice

This is a subtle one but will make a huge difference to the long-term effectiveness of your strength training. To ‘train’ is to complete without thought, but, to ‘practice’ is to mindfully execute with great precision.

When you practice, you’re more likely to make good decisions about your strength training, such as the appropriate load for your current skill level or the tempo of your lifting being in sync with your co-ordination. Keeping the mind-body connection enhances your development, and for some, can become meditative in nature.

When you train, you may have the mentality of ‘just getting it done’ and have little to no connection to the benefit of each movement. In time, you’re likely to become so dissociated to the exercise that you risk injury or losing the motivation to turn up.

  1. Learn The Primal Movements

When you’re getting started, there’s nothing more important than technique. Remember, there’s plenty of body weight exercises you can perform, which may assist you in your transition to the weight training area.

Seek out a trusted trainer to help you learn great technique. Too often, newbies to strength training are encouraged to complete a certain technique from an off the shelf strength program, but this falls short when it comes to correcting improper form.

To start, a trainer can help you perfect these key techniques:

  1. Understand Scaling Exercise

To scale an exercise is to match its complexity and intensity to your own physical function and capacity.

As a general rule of thumb, if it feels sketchy and uncomfortable, it generally is and needs to be scaled down. If it has been perfectly practiced and executed easily, it can be scaled up. The best practice is to make small, incremental progressions, that when consistently updated over a period of time, make for some transformative change in your strength and function.

Intensity is the main reason why scaling is so important; because it allows every person to find a level of work or intensity that is appropriate to their fitness level.  The reason why you want your workout scaled to your level is because the most intense, and safe, workout will result in the fastest positive results for your strength. Nothing kills progress like injury.

  1. Get a Program and Track Progress

Have your trusted trainer help you create a weekly program.

We should all be aiming for a minimum of 2 strength training sessions a week, and between each session, a 24-48hr recovery window. Don’t skip your rest time! You won’t get results any faster! In fact, you’re more likely to slow your progress, as your recovery window is the time in which your muscles have to repair, adapt, and grow stronger.

Once you have a plan in place, it’s essential that you track your progress. Keeping a training diary will help you to track the exercises, reps, sets and weights over time, helping you to plan further workouts and look back on how far you’ve come. Seeing the progress you’ve made will fuel your motivation to keep moving forwards and progressing your function further.

  1. Keep It Fresh

As you consistently practice your program, your body begins to desensitise to the training. It’s not necessary to always do something different but looking for new challenges every 4-6 weeks is necessary to evolve over time.

Even small changes in intensity and movements can freshen up your program. You will be amazed by what you can achieve in a year of consistent practice and evolving challenges.

So… Reckon you’re up for it?

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