Building strength can help weight loss and reduce injury risk, but conflicting advice means it’s difficult to know where to start. To help you cut through the noise we’ve put together our top tips for starting a programme, keeping motivated and getting the most out of those sessions in the weights room.
Set a goal
By setting a realistic goal, you’ve got something to strive towards, and will get a motivational kick when you achieve it. Factoring in a series of milestones along the way will make your fitness plan easier to stick to, as well as reducing the risk of injury by stopping you from trying to lift too much too soon. Write them all down and when you look back on them in six months’ time, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.
Keep it simple
To improve stability and increase strength, start with the tried and tested ‘5×5’ workout, which you can tailor to target different muscle groups. Warm up with fast-paced cardio to elevate your heart rate and loosen muscles. Then perform five sets of compound exercises, with five reps of each. This could include squats, deadlifts, bench presses, barbell rows or shoulder presses, with 90 second rests between sets. With three sessions a week, you’ll see – and feel – a noticeable difference in three months.
Build in functional training
A programme of dynamic, instinctive movements, like our new Primal Series classes, is fantastic if you want to get stronger more quickly. The benefits of this kind of functional training include improving posture and muscle imbalance, as well as working on flexibility and strength. Because you’re moving at high intensity and exercising whole muscle groups, it burns more calories than traditional static strength training.
Eat carbs and protein
Remember to eat before your workouts, as when fuel isn’t readily available for your body to burn it can start converting muscle into energy. To maintain a leaner, muscular physique, eat something with carbs and protein, like Greek yoghurt and a banana, about 45 minutes before your session. Then soon after strength training, increase your protein intake for muscle building and repair. A serving of grilled chicken or salmon about the size of a deck of cards is an ideal portion.