Weight Lifting 101: 5 Basic Principles of Strength Training

Enrico Fioranelli
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Strength training will not only improve your overall health and strength, but it will also enhance your yoga practice, which you can learn more about in The 5 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Yoga Practice. While there are several ways to strength train, it is important that you follow these 5 basic principles to ensure you get the best overall results:
 
 

1. Train evenly

When you look in the mirror, you may feel that your arms need more definition, your butt needs a little shape and lift, or your keg needs to be traded in for a six-pack. To obtain these results, it is vital that you work out your entire body evenly. If your specific goal is fat removal, you need to realize that you cannot spot-reduce fat. You do not determine where your body puts fat on and you cannot pick where you want it removed. When you work out your entire body, you will see fat reduction from those trouble areas and your body as a whole.

It is vital that you work out your entire body evenly.

By working your body evenly, you will increase your body’s demand for muscle, and by doing this, your body will build more muscle and those problem areas will become more toned. Afraid of getting too muscular? Don’t worry: the hulk needed gamma radiation to build those extra big muscles. Large, bulky muscles do not happen by accident – they are intentional. By controlling how you do your workouts, you control your results.
 

2. Rest up

When you sleep, your body enters a deeper resting state. During this state of REM sleep, your body can focus on recovery and healing, and it is also the time when your body uses the highest percentage of fat as an energy source.
 
Rest is important for your body, and we are not just talking about the 8 hours of sleep that you should get every night. Rest between strength training sets is critical. When your heart rate is elevated, your body is not capable of applying the same workload as when you start at a lower rate. Give yourself time to rest and catch your breath in between workouts to maximize your results.

 

3. Fuel your body

Perhaps the most important component in any fitness or strength training program is making sure that your body is appropriately fueled. Make sure that you eat before your workout so you have enough energy to preform your workout, repair your muscles, and keep you going throughout the day. Also, make sure you eat after your workout so that your body can recover.
 
When you work out, you are breaking down your muscles and causing microscopic tears. Your muscles need the appropriate fuel to heal and come back better than they were before. Have you ever felt dizzy during a workout? Chances are that your dizziness was due to low blood sugar. Fueling your body before and after a workout will ensure that your body is performing to its optimal potential during your workout and recovery.
 

4. Push yourself

Remember your teenage self when your parents had to practically dump a bucket of water on you to get you out of bed? Think of your body as that stubborn teenager who wants to stay in that dormant state, and your strength training program is the bucket of water that’s going to get you moving. Simply looking at the weights isn’t going to help you improve your strength or physical appearance. You are going to have to pick up those weights and push your body. You need to give your body a reason to change.
 
So, what does this mean? If you are comfortable doing 10 repetitions with a particular weight – say 10 pounds – either increase the weight to 12 or 15 pounds or increase the number of repetitions. By grinding out an extra repetition or two, you are establishing a demand for your body to change – and it will! Remember, it’s going to be hard. You are going to have to push yourself, but it will be worth it in the end.
 

 

5. Forms Matters

Each time that you strength train should feel like a challenge, and you should finish each workout feeling proud that you accomplished something difficult. However, it is vital that you always use proper form. If you are doing an exercise to work out your biceps, such as a bicep curl, you should only feel it in your bicep. Know the proper form for the exercises that you are doing, know what muscle you are targeting, and do not negatively alter your form to lift more weight or do an extra rep.

When you break form, you risk injury, and you do not work your muscles the most efficiently.

Following these five principles of strength training will ensure that you get better results while preventing injury and training as safely and effectively as possible. It is important that you strength train, but it is more important that you strength train properly. By training your body evenly, resting appropriately, fueling your body, pushing yourself, and maintaining proper form, you will achieve the results that you desire.

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The 5 Reasons to Add Strength Training to Your Yoga Practice
Strength training is a method of exercise in which you push your muscles to their limits, thus causing them to grow and develop. You can enhance your practice by adding a strength training regimen to your yoga routine, and yes, we are telling you to lift some iron!
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Enrico Fioranelli

Enrico is a personal trainer and certified strength and conditioning specialist, who has helped students, housewives, and Division 1 athletes achieve the results that they desire. Enrico is an all around athletic guy who is indiscriminate in his workout style of choice, from yoga and Tai Chi to mixed martial arts, strength training and running. He commits himself to lifestyle that includes healthy eating, no alcohol, and a 3-mile walk each morning his puppy in tow.

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