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Strength Training 101: Where Do I Start?

By Kim Duke
neta & afaa
Certified Trainer
You know that strength training will help you meet your weight loss or fitness goals, no matter what they are. And you know a strong body is a healthy body. But, starting a whole new workout routine can be daunting. It’s the reason so many people stick to the same old habits (that do not work).
How Will You Be Training?
There are many options when strength training – from starting weight-free with bodyweight training to using dumbbells and barbells.
With bodyweight training, you need minimal equipment, or none at all, and you can train anywhere as long as you have space to move around. Some of the exercises included in bodyweight training are squats, lunges, push-ups and pull-ups. The one downside to bodyweight training is that you need to keep modifying your exercise difficulty in order to ensure you are leveling up and progressing.
A second option for strength training is using dumbbells. Dumbbells are a great way to start weighted strength training for a few reasons. First, most gyms will have a good set of dumbbells, even if it’s a basic gym. If you want to train at home, you can get a set of adjustable dumbbells.
Dumbbells provide an added stabilization challenge, and point out muscle imbalances pretty easily.
A third option is the barbell workout. Because a barbell is incredibly stable (you’re using two hands instead of just one with a dumbbell), barbells allow you to progress clearly and quickly, allowing you to add small increments of weight each week. It is easier to go heavier using barbells, especially for lower body movements like the squat and the deadlift.
When it comes to movements like squats, deadlifts, pull ups, bench press, etc., your form is crucial. Until you are confident with the exercise, use a broomstick (or PVC pipe) instead of weights.
So what is the best form of strength training?
All of the above…
The following are some sample workouts:
Bodyweight: complete 1 set of each exercise and then move directly on to the next exercise.
1) 20 prisoner squats
2) 10 push ups
3) 20 walking lunges
4) 10 triceps dip
5) 15 second plank
6) 30 jumping jacks
Repeat 2-3 times through.
Dumbbell: complete each exercise in a controlled manner. Start with 3-5 lb. dumbbells
1) 10 goblet squats
2) 10 hammer curls to shoulder press
3) 10 sumo squats with biceps curl
4) 10 triceps kickback
5) 10 star jumps
Repeat 2-3 times through.
Which one is better? Either! The routine that best suits your fitness level and needs is the one that is right for you.
With either plan, make sure the difficulty increases over time. Adding 2-5 more squats, lifting 5 more pounds or adding a second set of heart pumping cardio could do this. The main goal should be to always do better than you did the last time; this will ensure you are continuously getting stronger and faster.
Honestly though, how you eat will account for 80-90% of your success or failure. SO, with a quality diet, you will lose fat and build strength EITHER way.

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