What are some strength training tips?

Training for strength means that you are teaching your body to be able to produce enough internal force to be able to overcome external loads. This can be important on a functional level and can translate to becoming more efficient at safely performing everyday activities such as picking up a baby, lifting a heavy box from the floor, or opening that heavy door to get to get into the office. 

Build a Foundation First
Start your new program by building a foundation first with exercises that involve little to no movement of the spine and focus on contracting the abdominals, buttocks, and leg muscles while performing all exercises. In addition, focus on performing all exercises with proper form by keeping your feet pointing straight ahead, keeping the knees in line with your second and third toe, activate the abdominals by pulling in your belly button towards  the spine, pull your shoulders back and your shoulder blades down. Be sure to also keep your ears aligned with your shoulders in order to avoid the head from moving too forward or to backward.

Train for Strength
Strength is best achieved with repetitions that range between 1 to 12, with sets that range between 2 to 6, and an exertion level that is between 7 and a 10 (on a scale from 1 to 10).  This means that the weight or exercise needs to be challenging enough, the number of repetitions per set should be relatively low, and the number of sets performed are at a moderate number. 

Have a Plan
Add purpose to your workouts by knowing what exercises you will be performing before you get to the gym. Create a list of exercises you will perform before you walk into the gym. This will help to keep you focused.

Before starting each strength training workout, engage in a warm up that consists of foam rolling, stretching, and some cardiovascular activity. Foam rolling can help soften any existing knots within the muscle, as well as desensitize trigger points. Stretch before performing a cardiovascular warm up in order to lengthen muscles and help increase the range of motion at the joints. Finally, perform cardio for 5 to 10 minutes to help prepare the body for strength training.

Get Help
Investing in a certified personal trainer can take the guess work out of your training program. Fitness professionals are trained in creating workouts that meet your individual needs. 
First make sure you are cleared by a physician for physical exercise. One of the most important tips concerning strength training is using the proper technique for each individual exercise. Many gyms offer a free orientation to show you the proper way to use the equipment, but hiring a personal trainer, even for one session, will guarantee that you are taught the proper techniques. Working with a personal trainer will also increase your chance for success. The trainer is a specialist in modifing your program each week -- progressions -- that will keep your body from hitting a plateau so you will see the body composition changes that are your ultimate goal.
Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Here are 4 simple tips for strength training

1. Progress your program
    a. Increase the number of reps
    b. Increase the number of sets
    c. Increase the intensity (weight that you use during a given exercise)
    d. Decrease the rest between sets and exercises
2. Vary your program
    a. During a week perform a medium, light, and hard day
    b. Use different equipment (Dumbbells, Cables, Bands, etc)
    c. Change your body position (2 arms, alternate arm, 2 legs, 1 leg)
    d. Change your grip (palms down, thumbs up, palms up)

3. Maintain proper alignment
    a. Feet straight
    b. Knees aligned with your second and 3rd toe (like you were on skies)
    c. Active abs (pull your bellybutton to your spine)
    d. Shoulders back and down
    e. Ears in alignment with your shoulders (military posture)

4. Get a coach to design a goal-specific plan for you to max your results
    a. A coach can create a very specific road map that you can follow

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.