Strength training – or weight training, resistance training, or muscular training – has become a fundamental part of most exercise programmes. It involves using one or more muscle groups to perform a specific task, such as lifting a weight or squatting. Or it can mean any physical movement in which you use your body weight or equipment to build muscle mass, strength, and endurance.
Not just for gym bunnies, weight training has multiple benefits for anyone of any age, gender, or current level of fitness. Improving your overall strength can help you perform daily tasks such as carrying heavy shopping bags or running for the bus. Plus, the increased range of motion and mobility of your muscles, ligaments, and tendons means being better able to support your body, which in turn means a lower risk of falls or injury when taking part in your chosen sport.
If strength training is something you’ve been thinking about taking up, you may be wondering if you can do it on your own at home, you need to join a gym, or whether you need a personal trainer.
What equipment do you need?
To start a strength training programme on your own you don’t need lots of fancy equipment. Just some small dumbbells or a kettlebell, and a resistance band – all of which are readily available from sports shops and don’t take up much room. Plus you can find plenty of beginner’s tutorials online that will allow you to start slowly and build up a routine. It’s only when you start lifting heavier weights you might want some one-to-one guidance, or upgrade to more flexible or challenging equipment. This is where you may find it beneficial to join a gym.
The benefits of using a gym
If you don’t know what to do in a gym or you’ve never stepped foot in one before, it can seem like a pretty scary place. But everyone was a beginner once, and gym staff are trained to help newbies feel comfortable as quickly as possible. Make sure you book an induction for your first visit which will include a tour of the gym’s facilities, how to use the machines, and what classes are available. The staff that run inductions will ask you what your fitness goals are, then tell you which equipment and exercises are best for strength training.
When to use a personal trainer
If you’ve reached a plateau with your strength training goals, it might be time to get help from a personal trainer (PT). PT fees aren’t usually included in your gym membership, but they might be worth it for at least a few sessions to set you back on the right path and make your workouts more effective. PTs will plan personalised sessions for you based on your current level of fitness and what you want to achieve. They will help you with your form, give you the benefit of all their knowledge and experience, gently push you to work harder, and – perhaps best of all – keep you accountable for your strength training journey.
About the Author: Helen Say is a freelance copywriter and blogger www.cblservices.co.uk