The lowdown on weight lifting

The lowdown on weight lifting

There is a huge range of weight lifting exercises you can do, and all of them have their pros and cons. The hard part is knowing which exercises are best for you.

Here are 5 top tips to help you decide:

1. Types of lifting exercises 

There are machine weights, which as the name suggests are machines that create a resistance for you to work against.

There are free weights, which are things like dumbbells where there is no set path for the weight to travel.

Lastly, there are body weight exercises - these involve exercises where your body is the resistance, such as pull-ups or press-ups.

2. Compound or Isolation

Weight lifting exercises can be broken down into compound and isolation exercises.

Isolation exercises focus on just one area off the body, for example the leg extension machine works the quadriceps muscle.

Compound exercises work a range of muscles in one movement: for example, a squat incorporates the legs as a whole as well as abdominal muscles and the upper body.

3. Machines or free weights

If you want to really focus on a particular area, machines are great. They can also be a good way to come back from injury or serve as an induction to resistance training.

However they do some of the work for you and don’t stimulate as many of the little stabiliser muscles as other free weight lifting techniques do. 

4. Achieve maximum effectiveness

If you are pressed for time in your workouts, it would be best to use compound exercises as they can work the whole body.

Doing a few compound exercises such as bench press, squats and deadlifts with some abdominal exercises and cardio a few times a week will benefit your body greatly.

Not only will it promote lean muscle mass but it will also increase your strength in other areas without even trying.

5. Exercise without weights or machines

Body weight exercises are great in circuits or if you don’t have a gym. Doing a few exercises in the park such as some press-ups and lunges as a half way point on a run or bike ride will increase your body’s fat burning ability whilst helping to tone up those troublesome areas.

Of course you can always overlap and use a mixture of lifting varieties together to create the ultimate workout.

Fitness instructors are a great place to start when embarking on your weightlifting journey or to help you out if you have reached a plateau.

As always it is important to be safe when doing your workouts to prevent injury. Make sure you do the exercises with the correct form. YouTube holds a wealth of information if you find yourself with nobody to ask.


The Author

Izzy Jeffs

Izzy is the British women's champion javelin thrower and has competed in two Commonwealth Games finals. She has competed for Great Britain on several occasions. Izzy spends a lot of time training in the gym, building muscle. When she is not training at the track or in the gym, she is eating. You’ve got to eat big to get big! Izzy also holds a Sports Science degree from Loughborough University.

Comments

craig t.
4 November 2015

craig t.

Bodyweight exercises rule! Saying that, I do enjoy the novelty of using machines.

Mike D.
18 October 2015

Mike D.

"they do some of the work for you and don’t stimulate as many of the little stabiliser muscles as other free weight lifting techniques do" Exactly!! This is is precisely why I use free weights now.

Frank H.
16 October 2015

Frank H.

The best move I ever made was stepping away from the machines. Like you say they do have their uses but there are better ways of getting in shape and pushing your muscles to the max.

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