Weight training for beginners

Every person who has hit the gym has been in this position before – whether you’re doing cardio exercises, weight and resistance training or simply want to stay fit. You’re not alone.

Weight training can be done for a number of reasons – for strength, lean muscle gain, weight loss, and general fitness.

If you lift weights incorrectly or too often, you could end up getting hurt. Correct form and volume is essential in weight training. But don’t be discouraged. Every person started off where you are – at the very beginning.

Starting out

You should stick to a beginners’ routine for at least three to six weeks to avoid overexertion and injury.

This will ensure that you develop correct form and balance before moving onto a higher intensity workout.

“A higher amount of reps with a lighter resistance is great for beginners to improve endurance of muscles and ‘tone’ muscles,” said registered Biokineticist, Monique Bouwer.

Decreasing the reps while increasing resistance improves strength and increases muscle mass, added Bouwer.

Since you are starting out, try using very light weight such as 2 kg dumbbells and monitor how well you are able to do the exercises. You should take it easy for the first few weeks and you can later increase the weight by 1 kg or more, depending on your personal performance. Don’t rush into it.

The workout

Warm up by doing some light cardio for five to 10 minutes. This includes walking on a treadmill, or cycling on a stationary bicycle.

“The tempo of all exercises should be slow and controlled and no momentum is used to perform the exercises,” said Bouwer.

Leg curls flexing the lower legs and knees towards the glutes against resistance 15-20 reps (1 set)

Lat pull downs sitting down pulling the bar down to your chest with your elbows away from the body 15-20 reps (1 set)

Dumbbell press lying down on your back starting with the dumbbells shoulder width apart and elbows away from the body, raising the dumbbells to the ceiling 15-20 reps (1 set)

Standing barbell curls lifting the barbell with an underhand grip to shoulder level until your biceps are fully contracted and return to starting position with elbows fully extended 15-20 reps (1 set)

Standing calf raise lifting your body as high as you can onto your toes and lowering your heels down as much as you can 15-20 reps (1 set)

Sit ups lying flat down with your knees bent; lifting the torso to a sitting position and back down again 15-20 reps (1 set)

Crunches lying flat down with your knees bent; roll up with your chest until your shoulder blades are no longer touching the floor and your stomach muscles are contracted. Return to start position 15-20 reps (1 set)

You should rest for at least 30-60 seconds between each set and exercise for overall fitness.

It is also important to remember that, as a beginner, resting and recovering after a workout is crucial to allow your body to rest in order for it to become stronger. You could rest every alternate day after a workout or train every day if you alternate upper and lower body exercises, Bouwer suggests.

The amount of sets can further be increased to three once you have adapted to the programme.

Monique Bouwer, Registered Biokineticist

This article is provided through a sponsorship from Pfizer in the interests of continuous medical education. Notwithstanding Pfizer's sponsorship of this publication, neither Pfizer nor its subsidiary or affiliated companies shall be liable for any damages, claims, liabilities, costs or obligations arising from the misuse of the information provided in this publication. Readers are advised to consult their health care practitioner for specific information on personal health matters as this is not the intention or purpose of the publication. Specific medical advice or recommendations on the clinical management of patients will not be provided by Pfizer. In this regard Pfizer does not support the use of products for off label indications, nor dosing which falls outside the approved label recommendations and readers must refer to the Package Insert of any product for full prescribing guidelines.