Beginners Guide to Strength Training: Four Factors to Consider

UK Fitness Pro
UK Fitness Pro
· 2 min read
A man using a beginners guide to strength training

Strength training is a type of exercise that forces the muscles to contract under the tension of heavy weights. This is why it is also known as weight training or resistance training. The weight that the body is made to bear can be from weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, or bars, or the body's own weight. It is a method that weight loss California gym instructors, for example, use to help clients lose weight and keep it off.

In this beginners guide to strength training, we look at four factors represented by the acronym FITT. F is for frequency of training, I is for intensity, the first T is for time (i.e., how long a session is), and the second T refers to the type of exercises that you do.

Before you start strength training

When you’re about to start strength training, whether it is for weight loss or strengthening, it is important to keep these four factors in mind:

With respect to frequency, it will depend on your goals, age, whether you have trained before or not, and your health and fitness level. If you are a complete beginner, start slowly. Work out every other day and give your body a chance to rest for a day before picking up weights again. Beginners typically hit the gym with gusto, but you don't want to injure yourself or be too sore to complete your next session.

In terms of intensity, start small too. Science supports the effectiveness of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), where short periods of intense exercise are coupled with short recovery periods. Beginners should lift lighter weights for short durations. Lifting heavier weights should be done when it no longer feels strenuous to lift the lighter weights

When it comes to time, when you start strength training you should aim for short durations. Then, as you go along and your body gets used to it, progressively add to your exercise sessions. Even adding 5 or 10 minutes every week or every two weeks will help you to make progress.

Regarding the types of exercises you do, you can start with those that use your body weight. These include squats, lunges, leg, shoulder, and glute bridge exercises, calf raises, heel drops, planks, and mountain climbers. Rest in between, then finish with dumbbell or kettlebell exercises. When you can do these exercises without straining too much, you can start using heavier dumbbells, kettlebells, or both. You can also try and do variations of bodyweight exercises such as different types of squats and lunges.

Nutrition and strength training

As well as the above four factors, it’s important to remember when you start strength training that exercise goes hand in hand with diet. It is important to get both of them right. Apart from eating the right food, it would help if you also got its timing right. You should time what you eat and drink to give you the energy to train, sustain your energy levels throughout the day, and help your muscles recover.

Plan for a healthy, balanced diet throughout the day and specific pre- and post-workout food and drinks. Consuming energy-giving snacks like a banana before a workout provides added energy to keep going. After working out, a snack or drink with protein helps with muscle recovery.

What next?

If you’d like some more guidance as you start strength training, just head to the homepage to find a personal trainer in your area or one that can provide guidance online. For example, here's a list of personal trainers in London that specialise in strength training

If you liked this article, you might also like these articles on common weight-lifting issues and the benefits of strength training for runners