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Strength Training Tips for Beginners

Strength training can be intimidating to a fitness newbie, especially if you've never operated one of those machines with the pulleys and levers, or you don't want to go toe-to-toe with that tan, grunting guy. However, strength training is a crucial part of getting fit that just can't be ignored. Cardio alone doesn't cut it. I repeat: cardio alone does not cut it. Now I'm not saying you should be able to bench press like Arnold, but even a few days of light strength training each week can do wonders for your health—and not to mention, your physique.

Not only does resistance training help build muscle strength, it increases your body's resting metabolic rate, causing it to burn more calories throughout the day. (Yes, please!) It also reduces blood pressure, decreases your osteoporosis risk, and improves your balance. If you're a strength-training beginner, these seven tips will get you going in no time.

Do a Cardio Warm Up – It's important to get your heart rate up before starting your strength-training routine. Begin with a 5-minute warm up of brisk walking, light jogging, or dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching uses controlled movements to loosen up your muscles and increase your range of motion. Try doing some walking lunges or butt kicks.

Concentrate on Compound Movements – When it comes to strength training exercises, the big compound movements are the best.  The squat, bench, deadlift and overhead press should be staples of any strength training routine.  They hit every major muscle group and they train your body to function as a unit.  This is much more effective than isolation exercises.  In fact if you hit those four exercises hard enough you won’t really need to do much more.

Learn Proper Form – This may be the most important tip when it comes to strength training or to anything you do in the gym.  When you are lifting weight there is always the chance of injury.  As you get stronger that chance of injury continues to increase.  It is important to learn proper form first before you start trying to increase strength.  If you try to increase strength before you have learned proper form you are setting yourself up for disaster.

Have a Spotter – This is important even after you have learned proper form.  Accidents can happen and having a spotter around can keep you safe.  Having a spotter also allows you to push harder knowing that they can save you if your muscles fail.  Find someone that you trust, and knows how you like to be spotted.

Be Patient – This may be one of the hardest things for strength training beginners.  They really want to make progress right now.  However, building strength takes time.  You have to look at this in the long term.  Be patient and make steady progress.  That steady progress will really start to add up over time.

Fuel The Machine – If doesn’t matter how big of an engine your car has it won’t run without gas.  The same is true for your body.  If you want to build muscle and get stronger then you have to give your body the fuel that it needs.  It is best to stick to whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible.

This is just a short list of tips for beginners.  There is more to strength training that just this.  However, if you make sure to focus on these 6 tips then you will be well on your way to making steady progress in the gym in a safe manor, and that is what going to the gym is all about.