10 STRENGTH TIPS FOR BEGINNERS: How to start lifting.
I am not a weightlifter expert by any means, but in the past few years I have found lifting to be something I really enjoy. I also have found little to no information on how to start lifting, or many vegan women bloggers that lift. Yes, they are many on instagram, but not many are sharing their tips on how they got started anywhere, so I thought that my experience could help you.
There’s a few things that I wished I knew before I started lifting, and some others that I did that have helped a lot.
Here are my top 10 tips for beginner lifters.
10 STRENGTH TIPS FOR BEGINNERS: How to start lifting.
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF
Specially if you are staring without a personal trainer or coach, and even if you do, you want to know what is happening with your body, what you should be feeling and where.
Weightlifting can be done many different ways, and for different goals. I.e., if you are looking to change body composition than your training will look very different than someone that wants to compete as a power lifter. Both great, but trained different.
Be clear with your goal, and be real. What is that you are looking to achieve and read on it. Watch videos on how to perform exercises like squats, deadlifts, chest press, etc. Learn, learn and learn a bit more.
Here’s some great resources:
2. START WITH THE BASICS
I love challenging myself and adding pulses, hold, resistance bands it is a great way to add that extra burn, but if you can’t perform a squat with proper form avoid fancy little add ons for a bit. Don’t feel discouraged! You will get there faster than you think but it is very important to focus and master the basics first.
Focus on compound moves, like squats, deadlifts, bench press, dips, etc. You will not only work the biggest muscle group targeted but will use pretty much your whole body.
Once you feel comfortable with each move (not necessarily when you lift “heavier”) than add some other things like pulses or resistant bands.
3. FOCUS ON FORM
Good form over heavy weight every single time. You want to perform each exercise correctly from the beginning to avoid injuries, and you want to get the most of the exercises.
Start with bodyweight exercises and build your way up with dumbbells, than barbells. Idolize the machines, that’s why they are there for! Ask a personal trainer to watch you, and correct your form when needed, and as I said before, watch videos on how to perform each move and read on what you should be feeling and where.
4. VIDEO YOURSELF
This has helped me so much through out the years. I know it can be embarrassing to place your phone down and record yourself while the gym is crowded, believe me I get it.
I try to get in on a early weekend morning when is mostly likely to be empty and video myself on moves that I know I struggle the most. That way I can look back later on the day and notice when my form started to get worst and what I can fix next time or focus on.
As well, is a great tool to track your progress! It is a bit embarrassing to look back to old videos and see how bad my form was, BUT it is pretty rewarding to see the progress.
5. PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD
A fancy phrase for “increase your weight a little bit every week” - if you want to gain strength, you need to push your muscles a little bit. You can’t go from 20 lbs. to 200 lbs. overnight, it happens over time.
Increase your weight couple pounds every other week, or every week if possible. You might don’t complete your whole set, but that is ok. It is suppose to be challenging.
6. KEEP A RECORD: Track the weight you are lifting every season
You might have the best memory of the world, but memorizing how much you lift on every exercise every week can be a little tedious.
Bring a notepad and pen, or use your notes app (like I do) and write how much weight you used for every exercise. I like to add how many reps and sets I was able to complete, and if I am feeling fancy, I add little emojis on how I felt. You might think I am kidding, but after a few months, it is nice to look back and see your progress, and how you went from 😭 to 😁 and 💪
It also can help you to move from dumbbells to barbells! There’s no limit.
7. HAVE A PLAN: and stick to it for a least a month.
Wether you build your own, or search one in the internet. Have a plan with you. You want to know what you need that day, and feel confident about it.
I like to keep the same split of exercises for at least 3 weeks, than switch it. That way I can track my progress and actually see improvements. If your plan changes every week, you will most likely never see any changes on the weight you lift, because you are not doing the same exercise more than once.
If you are a bit more advance or you already feel more comfortable, than yes, maybe you can change it every other week, but I think that at the beginning you want to stick to the same routine for a few weeks to work on form, on your compound moves and progressive overload.
8. STAY PRESENT: Mind muscle connection is a thing, and always engage your core.
Wether you listen to music or listen to podcasts, it is pretty easy to loose focus while working out, and start thinking about your next meal or plans for the weekend. Stay present, and really think which muscles you should be using, activating and focus on that. It will help you develop that mind body connection but also to be aware of your form and correct anything you might need to right there.
As well, ALWAYS engage your core. But Ana, what those that mean? It means that you need to keep your abdominal muscles tight all the time. As I said in my classes, think about pushing your belly to your spine and tuck your pelvis in, you will naturally engage your glutes. Do it on every single exercise, even if just a plain bicep curl, think tall and proud, core engage, shoulder plates tight, every single muscle is working.
9. WARM UP AND COOL DOWN
Always warm up your muscles before lifting. There’s a lot of controversy around wether to stretch before or after a workout, but whatever your take is on this, warm up every single time. Even if is a few jumping jacks, get your blood moving.
I like to “activate” my muscles first, so if I am doing legs I will perform bodyweight squats or crab walks with resistance bands before any compound move to get my muscles ready or “awake” - and if I am doing upper body, I do a few arm circles, or assisted pull ups, or push ups.
And always cool down, a few static stretches, or maybe a quick minute yoga flow. Stretch your muscles and let your heart rate drop.
10. BE CONSISTENT AND PATIENT
Weightlifting can be very rewarding but you need to give it time. Don’t rush your workouts, show up and do the work. Is about doing it over and over and over, just like any other sport. You will improve, and you will notice mental and physical changes, some days you will be tired and some weeks you won’t improve as much as you’d like to, but don’t give up. Keep showing up.
These are my ten tips for beginners, I will write a few other blog posts answering more specific questions, like how to go from dumbbells to barbells, or how to use machines, cardio ideas, etc. Stay tune for those, but if you have any questions leave them down below, or shoot me a DM on Instagram.
I want to know, what would be your tips for weightlifting beginners? Tell me in the comments!