Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training: Benefits, Frequency, and Home Workout
Strength training isn’t just for bodybuilders or elite athletes. It’s an essential element that can benefit everyone – from teenagers to seniors. Curious about where to start or why you should prioritize it? Let’s dive deep and unravel the world of beginner strength training, its many benefits, and how you can incorporate it seamlessly into your daily routine.
What’s in this article:
- What is Strength Training?
- Recommended Frequency For Beginner Strength Training
- The Age-Old Question: Strength or Cardio First?
- Why Developing Strength for Ourselves is the Best
- Mental Changes and Physical Benefits from Strength Training
- DIY Strength: An At-Home, Weight-Free Workout
- Final Rep: Embracing Strength in Every Step
What is Strength Training?
Strength training, at its core, is a form of exercise that challenges your muscles by using resistance. This resistance can come from weights, resistance bands, or even your own body weight1. For beginners, it’s about starting small and building a foundation. It’s essential to recognize that every individual starts at a different level and has unique needs. Therefore, beginner strength training is about understanding your current capacity, learning proper techniques, and progressively increasing the resistance or load as your body adapts.
Beginning with strength training can be both exciting and overwhelming. However, it’s crucial to prioritize safety and form above all else. When starting out, it’s not about how much weight you lift but rather how you lift it. A strong foundation with proper technique will pave the way for future progress, ensuring that you’re benefiting from each exercise without risking injury2.
Recommended Frequency For Beginner Strength Training
When starting out, it’s recommended that beginners strength train two to three times a week3. This frequency allows your muscles adequate time to recover between sessions, which is vital for growth and avoiding injuries. Remember, it’s during the recovery phase that muscles repair and grow stronger.
As you gain more experience, you can gradually increase the frequency. However, always pay attention to your body. If you feel fatigued or notice decreased performance, it might be a sign that you’re over-training and need more rest. Regularly mixing up exercises, sets, repetitions, and rest intervals can help ensure a balanced training routine, preventing plateaus and keeping the training engaging4.
The Age-Old Question: Strength or Cardio First?
The age-old debate: strength or cardio first? The answer largely depends on your primary goal. If building muscle and increasing strength is your main objective, it’s beneficial to start with strength training when you’re fresh and have the most energy5. Conversely, if your goal is endurance or cardiovascular fitness, starting with cardio might be best.
However, for general fitness enthusiasts, the order might not significantly affect overall results. It’s more about ensuring that both components are part of your routine. Remember, while strength training builds muscle and bone density, cardio improves heart health and burns calories. A balanced approach ensures overall fitness and health6.
Why Developing Strength for Ourselves is the Best
Strength training is often touted as the pinnacle of fitness, and for a good reason. Firstly, it’s a powerful tool for weight management. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest compared to fat tissue. Thus, the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate, leading to more calorie burn even when you’re not exercising7.
Moreover, strength training promotes bone health. Regular resistance exercises increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. This is especially vital as we age and our bones naturally become more brittle8. Beyond physical benefits, the sense of accomplishment after lifting a heavy weight or mastering a new exercise is unparalleled, making strength training a rewarding experience both physically and mentally.
Mental Changes and Physical Benefits from Strength Training
Strength training is not just about aesthetics or physical strength; it plays a massive role in mental well-being. Regular resistance training has been linked to reduced symptoms of anxiety, stress, and improved mood overall9. The endorphins released during exercise act as natural painkillers and mood elevators.
On the physical front, consistent strength training enhances muscle tone, boosts metabolism, and improves posture. Over time, as you notice these positive physical changes, it can also boost self-esteem and body image. The discipline and dedication required in strength training often translate into other areas of life, fostering a growth mindset and improved resilience10.
DIY Strength: An At-Home, Weight-Free Workout
Gear up for this simple yet effective routine, perfect for beginners:
- Push-ups: Start with your hands shoulder-width apart and keep your body in a straight line. Tip to intensify: Elevate your feet on a step or platform or execute the push-ups while lifting one foot off the ground.
- Squats: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and lower your body as if you’re sitting in a chair. Tip to intensify: Try single-leg squats or jump squats for added challenge.
- Plank: Hold a straight line from your head to heels. Engage your core and ensure your hips aren’t sagging. Tip to intensify: Incorporate side planks or leg lifts.
- Lunges: Take a step forward and bend both knees to a 90-degree angle. Tip to intensify: Add a jump between each lunge or hold a high knee for a second before switching legs.
- Glute bridge: Lie on your back, knees bent. Lift your hips to form a straight line from knees to shoulders. Tip to intensify: Extend one leg straight out during the lift.
Final Rep: Embracing Strength in Every Step
Embarking on the journey of strength training can feel like treading unknown waters. With its myriad techniques, weights, and routines, the world of resistance exercise might initially seem daunting to the uninitiated. Yet, at its essence, strength training is about tapping into an innate power that every individual possesses, only waiting to be harnessed. It’s crucial to acknowledge that the realm of strength training is not solely the domain of the experienced athlete or the seasoned bodybuilder. It’s an inclusive space where individuals at every fitness level can find a niche, work at their own pace, and witness transformative results over time.
As you integrate strength training into your lifestyle, remember that consistency trumps intensity. The frequency of your training sessions should harmoniously blend with your daily life, leaving ample room for recovery and rejuvenation. The rhythm of exercise and rest is where the magic unfolds, with each cycle bringing you closer to your strength goals and fostering a body that is not just stronger but also more resilient and agile.
Moreover, the synergy of strength training and cardio is a narrative of balance and holistic health. Each plays a unique role, and each contributes significantly to crafting a narrative of health that is robust, dynamic, and enduring. As you navigate through this intricate dance of strength and endurance, you’ll discover that the benefits are not just mirrored in your physical appearance but deeply embedded in your confidence, energy levels, and overall zest for life.
As you take these initial steps, prioritize listening to your body, relishing the process, and celebrating the little victories along the way. Because strength training, at its core, isn’t just a fitness regimen—it’s a lifelong journey of self-discovery, growth, and empowerment.
10 Article Sources
- Liu X, Gao Y, Lu J, Ma Q, Shi Y, Liu J, Xin S, Su H. Effects of Different Resistance Exercise Forms on Body Composition and Muscle Strength in Overweight and/or Obese Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Physiol. 2022 Feb 18;12:791999. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2021.791999. PMID: 35250604; PMCID: PMC8895240. ??
- Schoenfeld, B. J. “The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training.” Journal of strength and conditioning research, 2010, ??
- “Physical Activity and Adults.” World Health Organization, 2020 ??
- Rhea MR, Alvar BA, Burkett LN, Ball SD. A meta-analysis to determine the dose response for strength development. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2003 Mar;35(3):456-64. doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000053727.63505.D4. PMID: 12618576. ??
- Conceição M, Cadore EL, González-Izal M, Izquierdo M, Liedtke GV, Wilhelm EN, Pinto RS, Goltz FR, Schneider CD, Ferrari R, Bottaro M, Kruel LF. Strength training prior to endurance exercise: impact on the neuromuscular system, endurance performance and cardiorespiratory responses. J Hum Kinet. 2014 Dec 30;44:171-81. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2014-0123. PMID: 25713678; PMCID: PMC4327368. ??
- Strength Training or Cardio First – Fitting Exercise Into a Busy Schedule.” ACE Fitness, 2014 ??
- Westcott, Wayne L. PhD. Resistance Training is Medicine: Effects of Strength Training on Health. Current Sports Medicine Reports 11(4):p 209-216, July/August 2012. | DOI: 10.1249/JSR.0b013e31825dabb8 ??
- Layne JE, Nelson ME. The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999;31(1):25-30. doi:10.1097/00005768-199901000-00006 ??
- Hassmén P, Koivula N, Uutela A. Physical exercise and psychological well-being: a population study in Finland. Prev Med. 2000;30(1):17-25. doi:10.1006/pmed.1999.0597 ??
- Chung, PK., Zhang, CQ., Zhao, Y. et al. Effectiveness of resistance training on resilience in Hong Kong Chinese older adults: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. BMC Geriatr 21, 250 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-021-02197-8 ??