Tips for Weight-Training Workouts

Get the most out of your workout.

Strength training is an important part of any fitness routine. Whether you’re looking to boost your metabolism, tone your muscles, or strengthen your bones, it’s easy to reap the many benefits of lifting weights. Here are tips for improving your routine.

1. Make sure you wear comfortable and supportive shoes.

2. Never hold your breath during weight training — it can cause your blood pressure to rise dangerously. Instead, exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you bring the weight down.

3. Lift and lower weights slowly, using a smooth, controlled motion. If you depend on a weight’s momentum to move it, you won’t get strengthening benefits.

4. Start with weights that can lift comfortably 10 to 12 times (a “set”). As you get stronger, you may either increase the number of repetitions or the amount of weight (not both at once). When a set of 12 repetitions feels easy, try increasing the weight by 5 percent. Let your muscles recover between sets.

5. Work the large muscle groups (legs, back, chest, arms) first, but include all muscles in your total workout plan. Also equally work the muscles in opposing pairs — hamstrings on the back on the thigh and quadriceps on the front of the thigh, for example.

6. To maintain strength, train with weights at least twice a week, but never work the same muscles on consecutive days; muscles need at least 24 hours to recover.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest