Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Contrary to popular belief, weight training is not just a form of exercise to get you bigger. When done properly, it can be beneficial not only for building muscle mass but for building strength as well.
As with any type of new exercise, it’s a good idea to consult with a certified personal trainer who can talk you through proper form and also work with you to create a training program that works for you.
The best things to know before you begin
The key to making weightlifting effective is to prepare well. Make sure to stretch properly before starting any training and especially don’t continue anything if you experience any pain. Begin with some aerobic work such as a brisk walk or jog. Jumping jacks are a good on-the-spot aerobic exercise too; do a couple of minutes of these to get your heart rate up.
Start off easy if you’re a beginner – choose weights that you can do 10-15 reps of with the proper form. Resistance bands are a cheap and easy way to get started on weight training if you don't have any dumbbells yet. You can also simply use your body weight for exercises like squats and lunges.
Make sure your posture and form are correct, otherwise you won't reap the benefits of strength training, and you may hurt yourself.
Once you're confident with your methods, kick it up a notch with dumbbells. Gradually increase the weight you work with, don’t make any drastic changes too quickly. Listen to your body and make sure you don't overdo it.
Make sure to rest between sets to avoid muscle fatigue, especially as a beginner.
It's important to stretch after a workout as well as before, so don't skip this step. Stretching will improve the flexibility of your muscles and minimise the chance of you injuring yourself.
How to count your reps and sets
As mentioned above, 10-15 reps is the ideal range for a set. But what are reps and sets?
This is the number of times you repeat the exercise you're doing, such as bicep curls. A set is a set number of reps. Having a lower number of reps with a heavier weight will see more results. 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps is a good goal to have when you start your strength training.
When you're starting out, 'simple yet effective' is a good code. Exercises such as bicep curls or resistance band work are a good starting point.
Stay hydrated and make sure you have enough water with you.
Use your body weight for lunges and squats, and make the movements slow.
Stay safe! If you feel any bad pain at any point, stop what you're doing. If any pain persists, seek medical advice.