What is weight training?Weight training is the practice of lifting weights, usually with the goal of personal development. Men usually do it to build muscle and strength, whereas women usually do it to develop shape and “tone”. The practice involves regularly performing a list of exercises using barbells, dumbbells, and weight machines, with each exercise designed to target a different muscle group or movement pattern of the body. Over time, the amount of stress that is placed on the muscles is progressively increased, forcing the muscles to adapt by developing greater strength, size, or endurance. The gradual increase in stress designed to stimulate muscle development is known as progressive overload.
Weight training is the most common form of strength training. Strength training is any physical exercise that involves contracting your muscles against resistance with the aim of muscular development. Strength training can also be done using resistance bands or your own body weight.
Why do weight training?
Weight training and other forms of strength training can be performed for a number of reasons, including:
- improving your general health and fitness
- enhancing your athletic or sporting abilities
- building your muscles and strength
- sculpting a more attractive body
- rehabilitating your limbs after an injury
- burning calories
- losing weight
- relieving stress.
How do you train?
You can train at home or in a gym, either with or without a training partner. Ideally, a training session should include a warmup, a workout, and a cooldown — all of which should take 30 to 90 minutes. The longer your workouts take, the less likely you will be to stick to them.
The warmup is very important. It prepares your mind and body for exercise, reduces your risk of injuries, and gets you pumped up and ready to work out.
The cooldown, or post-workout stretch, involves gently stretching the muscles that you have trained, which can help to prevent stiffness and a reduction of range of motion.
The workout itself involves completing a list of exercises, of which there are numerous varieties. The types of exercises that you do depend on your goal, level of experience, and preferences. Popular exercises include the dumbbell curl, barbell bench press, and barbell squat.
For each exercise, you have to complete a certain number of reps and sets. A rep (short for repetition) is one complete unit of a weight training exercise, from the starting position to the point of maximum contraction and then back to the starting position. For example, you perform one rep of a dumbbell curl if you raise it to your chest and then lower it back down. A set is a group of reps. For example, if you perform ten reps before resting, those ten reps count as one set.
The list of exercises that you perform, along with the amount of weight that you lift for each exercise and the number of sets and reps that you complete for each exercise, are defined in your training program.
How often must you train?
Serious lifters with lots of experience undertake five or six workouts a week, each one targeting one or two different muscle groups. However, as few as three full-body workouts per week can produce decent results.
What kinds of equipment do you need?
Common types of weight training equipment include barbells and dumbbells, which are often used in conjunction with an adjustable bench. More technical types of equipment include weight machines, which come in a variety of forms, and often incorporate seats, cables, pulleys, and levers. Barbells and dumbbells are often known as free weights because they are not attached to other devices and are raised and lowered freely. Unlike free weights, weight machines guide your joints through fixed patterns of motion.
Although technically not weights, resistance bands and your own body weight can also be used to develop muscles. Indeed, weight training programs often incorporate resistance band and bodyweight exercises. Resistance bands are also often used to add extra resistance to free-weight and bodyweight exercises.
You should be able to find everything you need to effectively train in a gym. If you’re going to train safely and effectively at home, you will need at least a set of dumbbells, an adjustable bench, a pull-up bar, a barbell, and a power rack (aka power cage) for safety. Clip resistance bands and ankle straps are also quite important, especially for the ladies.
How long does it take to see results?
Results take time, patience, and dedication, but are worth the effort. As long as you follow an effective training program that also ensures adequate rest and recovery, you should start to see evidence of an increase in strength within just days of training, and evidence of an increase in the size of your muscles (or curves) after six to eight weeks. Men can add up to 25 pounds of muscle mass in the first year of proper training and nutrition, whereas women can add approximately half as much.
Does weight training make women look bulky, like a man?
Certainly not! This is a common myth. For a woman to become bulky, she would have to train like crazy for several years and take steroids! Because of this myth, many ladies go to the gym and basically waste their time throwing around light weights. They never achieve their goal of developing jaw-dropping curves because doing so requires heavy lifting.
How to get started with weight training
If you’d like to start weight training, I have provided free weight training programs and an exercise database to help you perform the exercises with proper form. I’ve also published an ebook that contains everything you need to create your best possible body.