Weight Lifting
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Weight Lifting

How to Start a Weight Lifting Program

Weight training has become an accepted means by which to improve our fitness level. Lifting weights adds resistance to our body's natural movements, and this causes the muscles to grow and get stronger.

Lifting weights can improve your cardiovascular system, increase flexibility, keep body fat levels down, and enhance endurance. As we age, a weightlifting program can play a vital role in delaying the aging process we all experience. A program can be done with simple free weights or fancy expensive machines. Machines are generally safer, as they can be easier to control and rely less on balancing a given weight freely in the air. Some multiple purpose machines offer the user many stations to allow variety in your routine. Free weights, like barbells or dumbbells, can be used several ways as well. Weight belts can help some individuals stabilize their lower back, and gloves allow a better grip to prevent slippage and blisters.

To begin a program, goals must be established. Ask yourself if you want to obtain muscular tone and improve cardiovascular endurance, or build muscle strength and size to improve sports performance or rehab an injured muscle.

If you want to improve muscle tone, consider using a "circuit"program. This program utilizes exercises to be done four times a week for about 20-30 minutes a session, with very short rest periods (30 seconds) in between each set. Repetitions of 15-20 of each exercise should be done. Each muscle group should be exercised with a separate routine. Strength building requires exercising a muscle group to fatigue. This program incorporates repetitions from 6-10 per routine, and rests should last 1-2 minutes each. This program can be done about 3 times a week, or you can divide the routine into four times a week, with upper extremity and lower extremity exercises being done twice a week alternatively.

Injured muscles require lighter weights but higher repetitions. Lighter weights prevent further injury to the muscle, and the increased repetitions promote tone and improve the blood supply to the injury to facilitate healing.

Remember, you should always discuss starting a weight program with your physician prior to starting any routine. Individuals over 30 should have a complete physical, and those that have underlying health problems should discuss their desires with their primary physician to prevent injury and to set realistic goals.

Weight lifting programs are a great way to turn back the clock. The stress placed on the bones promotes bone growth and retards the process of osteoporosis in women. Joint flexibility decreases the pain of stiffness associated with arthritis, and muscular strength prevents many injuries to ligaments and tendons seen in accidental slips and falls. Ask anyone who maintains a regular exercise routine involving some sort of weight training, and they will sell you on the benefits they reap from their dedication.


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