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6 Tips for Successful Weight-Lifting Workouts

Training techniques that will help you get results.

Rule No. 4: Learn the Power of Slow continued...

Ryan agrees. "A lot of sports rely on high, fast motion. But when you’re doing weight training, it's slow, deliberate motions with controlled breathing," he says. "Don’t hold your breath and do the reps. And don't move too quickly."

Further, Schroeder says, beginners will benefit more from doing more repetitions with a lighter weight than from trying to use heavy weights they can lift only a few times.

"In the beginning," he says, "you have such a huge adaptation phase -- you're using muscles you never used before, and you're shocking your system, even with a light weight. So you are much better off and much safer to start much lighter with more repetitions." he says.

Starting with lighter weights means you're less likely to end up with the kind of muscle pain that could end your weight training workout program on the spot.

"It's a discouraging scenario when you hurt all over," Bryant says. "And starting slow means you are less likely to feel the kind of pain that causes you to get discouraged and quit after one or two tries."

Rule No. 5: Rest and Recover

Although it has little to do with form or function, experts say the real key to successful weight training is to understand the importance of rest and recover. At the core of weight training is a tearing-down and building-up process that ultimately makes muscles strong.

Schroeder explains: "In order for muscles to build, muscle fiber has to be torn, which is what happens when you stress the muscle with weights." 

While that tearing process is vital for the muscle building activity to begin, it's really the respite in the next 48 to 72 hours that leads to muscle strength.

"Think of it like paper being torn," Schroeder says. "You've got to tape it back together before you can rip it again, and that's what a rest and recovery period allows you to do.  It allows the torn muscle fibers to come together so you can tear it again." Each time you do, he says, the muscle gets stronger.

If you try working out every day, you'll not only increase your risk of injury but also work against getting the results you want. Ryan says that one of the key reasons some people don’t see results after 8 to 10 weeks of weight training is because they are simply not giving their bodies adequate time to recover.

"If you don’t see any change in your body after a few months, don’t think you need to do more. You probably need to do less," he says. "If you over train, all you get are breakdown and no buildup."

So how do you know when you're ready to hit the weights again? Ryan says to use muscle soreness and fatigue as a guide. "If you feel significant soreness, if your muscles feel fatigued, then it's too soon," he says.

Bryant says that as long as there is no injury, for most folks, the recovery process occurs within 48 to 72 hours after a workout. If you want to work out more often than that, he says, simply switch to a different area of the body for each workout.

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