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How to Weight Train: Understanding Progressive Overload

So you want to get stronger and toned. Or perhaps you want to combat the natural decline of muscle mass as the human body ages. You know you need to start (or get into) resistance training, but you don’t know how to weight train exactly.

Maybe you’ve even gone to the gym and tried it out.

Yet, you don’t really know what you’re doing. You pick up a few weights, pump out a few reps, and call it a day, never really making much progress. Perhaps it’s even been months of this, and you aren’t getting the results you want.

The reason? You aren’t using the concept of progressive overload.

The body won’t change unless you force it to. And if you’re wondering what on earth progressive overload means, don’t worry. We’ve got you.

In this article, we’ll explain what progressive overload means and even provide you with some essential weight training tips so that you can perform weight training at home or use weight training for your weight loss goals and more.

What is Progressive Overload?

Progressive overload involves slowly increasing your weight, frequency, or repetitions. This challenges your muscles, forcing them to grow. With more muscle, your body appears more toned and lean.

The key to this is going slowly and allowing a rest day after each session to give your body time to adjust and bounce back. Too much, too soon, can quickly lead to injuries and plateaus.

While you may not notice immediate results, as time goes on, you get way more bang for your buck when you continually lift heavier and heavier weights or increase your reps at the same weight. In fact, the benefits of weight training include less pain, better support for your joints, and easier weight maintenance.

And here’s some other good news: It may even take less and less time to maintain.

A good rule of thumb is to only increase your weights or reps by 2.5% each week. This may mean only increasing by a few pounds every 4-6 weeks. You can also mix it up, alternating between heavy leg days versus high-rep leg days, depending on your goal.

Weight Training for Beginners: Tips & Tricks

Tip #1: Begin With Your Body Weight

If you’re new to weight training and if you want to try weight training at home, bodyweight exercises are a great starting point. They can also be super useful if you don’t have the equipment and if you don’t want to spend the money to invest in expensive gym equipment.

For instance, you can start with planks, push-ups, squats, and more. This can further help you get your form down before you add any additional resistance.

Make sure to check out: Low-Impact Exercises You Can Do At Home

Tip #2: Don’t Forget to Warm Up

5-10 minutes of walking or jogging is a great way to warm-up before any resistance workout. You definitely don’t want to start off cool. This, again, can lead to injury and pain, which we don’t want!

Tip #3: Watch Videos for Form & Technique

Maybe you don’t want to invest in a personal trainer, or perhaps this isn’t an option right now if the gyms are closed where you are.

Either way, the internet is full of knowledge and power. There are endless videos that demonstrate the right way to perform any exercise you can think of, including major moves like squats, deadlifts, push-ups, chest presses, and more.

Use these videos to help guide your form, and if you can, use a mirror to check if you’re doing it right.

Tip #4: Plan Your Workouts

If it’s not in your calendar, will it really happen? Plan out your workouts as you would plan out your work week. Make them a priority!

This can also ensure you get enough rest in between each weight lifting session.

And when it comes to getting stronger, rest is an essential piece of the puzzle. Rest is when your body works on rebuilding your muscle tissue, which gets broken down when you exercise. Aim to leave 1-2 days in between each workout.

Tip #5: Rest for 60 Seconds Between Each Set

This ensures you can lift the most, without jeopardizing your form, at each at every set. It also reduces muscle fatigue, allowing you to make it through your entire workout.

Looking for more ways to recharge? Make sure to read: Your Guide to a Rejuvenating Self-Massage

Tip #6: Repeat the Same Moves

Yes, this may sound boring, so choose wisely!

Doing the same moves and being consistent will get you to your goals much faster than doing different workouts and exercises every time. When you do the same workout, you build on what you’ve previously done - which is exactly how progressive overload works!

Tip #7: Stretch Afterwards!

As far as weight training tips go, this one is essential. Don’t skip your cooldown. Save 5-10 minutes at the end of your workout to perform a few gentle stretches and allow your body to reset.

Start Weight Training Today

Weight training can be empowering and rewarding all in one.

If you don’t know how to weight train, start with the info and tips above. You can also use YouTube or online workouts to guide you and determine what exercises you should include in your regular workout plan.

Start getting more effective and efficient with your workouts! Weight training can help you get there.

Related article: The Only 3 Strengthening Moves You Need

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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