If you are new to lifting weights the process can be both confusing and intimidating. While in theory you can just go to the gym and start lifting weights, in reality it’s more complicated than that.
Not only do you need to know what muscles you should target, but you also need to know how to put together an effective plan.
Before you start your new weightlifting program, here are 5 questions you need to answer.
What Equipment Will You Need?
The equipment you need will depend on where you will be working out. If you plan on doing your workouts at home then having a good pair of dumbbells is a necessity.
If you want to get the most out of your workouts its best to have a variety of different weights on hand.
However, that isn’t always possible when you are doing at home workouts. Mainly because you don’t have the space needed for a weight rack.
Luckily there are other options.
The SelectTech dumbbells by Bowflex are the perfect alternative to a weight rack. For less than $300 you will have access to a set of adjustable dumbbells that can help you work every part of your body.
Another piece of equipment you may need is a bench. This will allow you to do exercises such as the dumbbell bench press and the dumbbell row.
How Much Weight Should You Lift?
You want to lift heavy, but not too heavy. If you are unable to maintain proper form that means the weight is too heavy.
If on the other hand you can do 20 reps without breaking a sweat, that means the weight is too light.
The idea is to challenge your body to the point where it is has no choice but to change. In order to do that you must find your sweet spot.
What Type of Split Should You Do?
When it comes to lifting weights you can either focus on one body part per day, or you can do full body workouts.
It’s all a matter of preference as both have been proven to be effective.
For best results it is recommended you work each muscle group at least two times per week. You should also alternate between body part splits and full body workouts.
This will ensure you never hit a plateau.
How Often Should You Lift?
How often you lift will depend on two things. You personal goals as well as your schedule. Your ultimate goal is to maximize results while minimizing injuries.
Both of which largely depends on your fitness level when you get started. If you are new to working out lifting two times a week will be more than enough.
If you are a little more advanced you can lift up to six days per week.
How Many Rest Days Do You Need?
Having a day off for rest is a vital part of your overall success.
When you lift weights you damage and break down your muscle tissues. Rest days give your body an opportunity to repair and rebuild the muscles you damaged during the previous days training sessions.
If you want to become stronger you will need to incorporate both rest and recovery days into your weekly routine.
If you choose to workout every single day and never give your body enough time to recover, you will end up hindering your results.
Your body adapts to your workouts during recovery days. That means having a scheduled recovery day is just as important as having a weekly workout schedule.
One thing you need to always remind yourself is that more isn’t always better. If you go hard at the gym and never give yourself time to recover, you will end up overtraining and possibly even seriously injuring yourself.
How often you take a rest or recovery day will once again depend on your personal fitness level and the intensity of your workouts.
A good rule of thumb is to aim for a maximum of two rest or recovery days per week. Which days you rest on can be changed based on how you feel.
For example, let’s say you schedule your rest day for Tuesday. Well if Tuesday rolls around and you are full of energy, instead of taking a rest day consider doing some sort of active recovery.
Active recovery will help you get blood flow into your muscles without the stress of weights. Some great active recovery options would include yoga, a short hike or light cardio such as an easy jog around the park.
Whether you are working out on a particular day or not, it’s always a good idea to do dynamic stretching everyday of the week.
Dynamic stretching will help prepare your muscles for what’s to come during your next workout. It will also decrease your chances of injury while also enhancing your overall performance.