Strength training is well-regarded for its beneficial effects on weight loss. However, training applications may vary from person to person in terms of the types of exercises employed, the frequency of training per week, or workout splits. Nonetheless, there are fundamental strength training principles to ensure that you are building muscle and losing fat and not just wasting your time and effort in the gym. Here are 5 of the most basic strength training principles for weight loss, regardless of whether you’re a novice or if you’ve been lifting for a while.
Progressive overload is the gradual increase of stress or resistance to your muscles. In other words, your body should be working harder than the last training which could be done in various ways and not only increasing weights. You can progressively overload through decreasing resting times, doing more repetitions, doing reps at a slower pace, doing exercises one side at a time, or doing more challenging variations of an exercise.
Progressive overload will give your muscles the right signals to keep them in constant tension instead of making it used to a particular intensity that leads to a plateau in both performance and muscle gain and fat loss goals.
If you are a beginner, it may be challenging to determine which weight to start. A general rule of thumb is to start with a weight that you are comfortable with and allows you to perform the exercise in the correct form and speed. From there, increase your weights that challenge your body to lift them. Ensure that it is challenging enough but does not totally exhaust you that you cannot perform the rest of your workout.
Proper form and technique
While increasing intensity is needed to keep the muscles growing, a higher volume should not compromise proper form. Do not lift heavier weights; you are not yet conditioned to lift to shoot for a personal record or show off who has a bigger stick in the gym.
Proper foot position, range of motion, adequate time under tension, alignment of body parts during the movement, and angle of movement are elements of proper body form that should be considered during workouts. Proper form improves training quality more than a high-volume exercise with poor technique. Maintaining good form and technique makes you work out more efficiently, using your energy for added intensity rather than waste the movement. This will also target the muscles that each exercise intends to work on instead of letting other muscles or joints compensate for it that may lead to injuries.
Keep it simple
To help you with consistency, especially if you are a beginner, stick to the basics first. Do not overcomplicate your workout program by forcing yourself to use all gym equipment or machines. Include predominantly compound movements in your workout programs such as squats, deadlifts, rows, bench presses, and overhead shoulder presses, using just free weights such as barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells. These exercises give the most bang for your buck as they work on various muscle groups at the same time, promoting faster fat loss and muscle development.
Once you’ve mastered these basic compound lifts, you may start adding isolation exercises that focus on your target muscle groups. That’s when you may use gym machines that have specific instructions to work on particular muscles or add more complex variations to your workout.
The effects of weight training do not come by overnight. Moreover, fitness goals do not have clear deadlines like what most fitness influencers promote in their fad programs like “lose fat in 10 days” or “get abs in just 30 days.” The effects of weight training are built for months or even years. Just ask professional bodybuilders or powerlifters. Hence, to see the full impact of strength training, you must be consistent with your workouts for some time.
Do not jump from one workout program to another. It is best to try it out for at least four weeks of consistent training and ensure that you are pushing yourself hard in every exercise before deciding if the workout is not suitable for you. Changes in metabolism that encourage muscle gain and fat loss do not happen immediately. There are also many factors such as genetics, hormones, sleep, stress, nutrition, or pre-existing health conditions, which affect how quickly your body responds to strength training.
Rest and be patient
The resting period is as important as the lifting period. Resting allows the body to recover to come back for the next set or workout with enough energy and intensity, most especially if you have an injury. However, getting rest in between workout days does not mean you completely do nothing. While passive rest like sleeping is necessary for recovery, active rest or moving in lesser intensity than regular workout days is also encouraged to increase your blood flow, aiding your muscles to repair.
Strength training’s goal is to build your body strong muscles that your body can burn calories and fat at a fast pace even at rest; hence, you must apply adequate intensity during your workouts, but consequently, let it rest as it burns calories on its own.
In parallel to resting, be patient with the results. Do not think that working out every day for prolonged periods will immediately make you lose fat. On the contrary, training more may not produce additional benefits and may make you feel more fatigued. Training will then work against your advantage by making you feel tired and susceptible to injuries.
Strength training is a continuous process of adding resistance to your exercise to induce muscle gain and fat loss. To maximize strength training’s effects on weight loss, one must keep in mind the basic principles such as progressive overload, proper form and technique, and getting adequate rest. Effects of proper strength training on weight loss will be seen throughout a consistent training regimen.