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Weight Training Basics

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Stick With the Basics: Proper Nutrition, Rest, Warm-up

The most important principles to prevent injury, Gillingham says, are proper nutrition, proper warm-up, and enough rest between workouts. "Whatever your personal goals are, you need a training plan so you have an idea what you're going to do when you go into the gym."

Paul Lauer, a certified personal trainer in New York City, suggests you work each muscle group once a week. That means you might do an upper body workout one day, then cardiovascular exercise the next day.

For someone who just wants to be in overall good shape, two weekly sessions with weights plus three days of cardiovascular exercise makes a good schedule, he says.

A substantial percentage of Lauer's clients seek him out for help in recovering from injuries due to improper weight-training methods and sports-related injuries. Though each person's workout depends on his or her specific situation and goals, a thorough warm-up is essential.

  • Typically that might start with 10 minutes on a stationery bike.
  • Then, if you're going to work a particular region of the body, stretch and warm that area.

When you work out with weights you need protein to rebuild muscle tissue, Gillingham and Lauer agree. Gillingham recommends supplemental protein powders. "Everyone's using them, and they're great in their place, but they don't replace protein from foods," Lauer warns.

Start Slowly

If you haven't exercised in awhile and you're going to start weight training, start slowly, says Gerard Varlotta, DO. "We see lots of people who make a New Year's resolution to start exercising again. They think they can start at the same level they left off, and they forget they may be 20 years older now."

Notice whether you already have pain in any region, says Varlotta, a sports medicine rehabilitation physician at New York University Medical Center and the Rusk Institute in Manhattan. "You could reaggravate areas that have previously been injured or have some degeneration. Give it a try, but if you experience discomfort that doesn't go away with rest and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, then consult someone about ways to modify the exercise."

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